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ERS

Ability to control and manage subcontractors

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When the government asks you to describe your ability to control and manage your subcontractor's, besides contract type, can someone provide other examples that the government likes to see or should be in place?

Thanks,

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When the government asks you to describe your ability to control and manage your subcontractor's, besides contract type, can someone provide other examples that the government likes to see or should be in place?

Thanks,

ERS,

Interesting question and one whose answer, I would assert, transcends the contract or acquisition management function. I hesitate to get too specific, because I think the answer depends on the type of work being performed. For example, I would expect management of construction subcontractors to be different--at least to some extent--from management of service subcontractors or build-to-print manufacturing subcontractors. So I'm not sure I (or anybody else) can do much more than point you in certain directions.

It's been clear to me for a while that, where multiple subcontractors and multi-tier supply chains exist, effective management of said subcontractors is the real key to effective program execution. I can point you to a couple of white paper/informercials on that topic, if you like.

The "iron triangle" or "triple constraint" of program execution is, traditionally: on-budget, on-schedule, and meeting quality and performance specifications. I imagine your government customer might want to understand how you intend to manage and control subcontractors in order to achieve those goals. Generally speaking, Earned Value Management Systems (EVMS) play a key role in that process. (I believe there is an interesting EVMS piece on WIFCON's analysis page. :D ) Integration of subcontractor status, CCDR and variance analysis with prime contractor EVMS data is an interesting topic.

Another interesting topic is change control and compliance with Limitation of Funds/Limitation of Cost clauses.

Recently, I have become interested in implementing risk management into both EVMS and supply chain management. DOD has an interesting manual/booklet on integrating EVMS with risk management. but there is not too much on integrating risk management with supply chain management. Such topics as risk-adjusted competitive price analysis need better coverage, in my opinion.

Your communication protocols and associated IT infrastructure might reasonably be viewed as playing a role in effective management and control of subcontractors, I should think.

There may be lots of other vectors to approach the subject, but those come immediately to mind.

Hope this helps.

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Here's my "vector." You must explain how you will (a) monitor and (B) control: (1) quality, (2) cost, and (3) schedule. You must be as explicit and specific as possible about each of those five elements as proposal space permits.

Think of a matrix, with three columns headed: (1) Quality, (2) Cost, and (3) Schedule, and two rows headed: (A) Monitoring and (B) Controlling. Now think of inserting into each of the six cells who, what, when, where, and how. The amount of detail that you can devote to each cell depends on your proposal page budget. Remember that you will be addressing people (evaluators) who will be looking for and rewarding clarity and specificity. The clearer and more specific you can be the better.

Explicitly and in detail, describe how you will allocate sufficient resources to keep an eye on your subs and make sure that they're doing what they're supposed to be doing--according to specification, within budget, and on time. I can't tell you what to say about those things, or what to emphasize, since I don't know who your prospective customer is, the kind and size of job you would be doing, how many subs you would have, and what they would be doing, but you must talk about those things--monitoring and controlling quality, cost, and schedule.

For example, when discussing how you will monitor quality, describe your organization and processes--who, what, when, where, and how--for measuring performance and taking prompt corrective action. Remember that everything is linked to everything else-- faulty quality can affect cost and schedule, poor cost control can affect quality and schedule, poor schedule control can affect cost and quality. Show that you realize the links and emphasize that you plan to adopt a "proactive" and "integrated" approach. (Evaluators love those kinds of words.) Again, the amount of detail will depend on your page budget.

If you have a creative proposal designer you can do a lot with these topics. You can save a lot of words with creative graphics, but use both graphics and words (some people like to read, some like to look at pictures). And don't use ridiculously complicated charts.

Don't go overboard in discussing any one process, like EVMS, unless the customer seems to be especially interested in it. Consultants and naive government personnel love to talk about EVMS, but the topic draws cynical smiles and smirks from old timers who remember Cost/Schedule Control Systems Criteria. Know your audience.

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"When the government asks you to describe your ability to control and manage your subcontractor's, besides contract type, can someone provide other examples that the government likes to see or should be in place?"

I assume that this is for proposal submission and evaluation - but for what (.e.g., service, construction, research and development, design-build, etc.) is this and is it a cost or firm fixed price, fixed price incentive, etc. contract?

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ERS,

Vern's advice is solid (as usual). Although in the past he's called such efforts exercises in "creative writing," he's given you a roadmap to getting a good grade for your efforts, and you should follow it.

That said, I'm wondering why you and your company need to ask these questions. Not that there's anything wrong with the questions, per se, but they indicate (at least to me) that your company may not be as prepared as it could be to respond to the solicitation. There are a thousand consultants and professional proposal writers who want to help you succeed (and get paid for it, naturally). If your company is not availing itself of their expertise, then you may be missing a trick or two.

Asking questions on WIFCON is fine. You'll get good advice from people like Vern who've reviewed and evaluated lots and lots of contractor proposals. You might even get some vague advice from people like me, who've written and priced several contractor proposals (some of which were actually successful). In any case, the answer to your particular question is as much a matter of project/program management as it is anything else. As I noted, subcontractor management is not solely the province of the contractor acquisition workforce.

In fact, I recently argued at a local NCMA meeting that the job of those folks was to place the right contract at the right price in a timely fashion, and then to (mostly) get out of the way and let the program team execute. The expertise needed to create the right contract vehicle at the right price is invaluable; yet I find too many contractor "contract managers" want to own subcontract oversight and management as well, refusing to cede that territory to the program execution team. There are good reasons for Government contracting officers to be the owners of the post-award contract administration processes. I argued that there were far fewer good reasons for contractors' acquisition professionals to own those processes.

My point is that, no matter how great the answers you get from WIFCON are, on this particular topic I would argue that you are getting only a part of the complete answer. Although Vern gave you a great structure and the right process steps for developing your answer, at the end of the day the content has to be your company's own and, unless you have the particular expertise to answer the mail yourself, you'll need to involve other corporate functions in creating that content.

Hope this helps.

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It is creative writing. Most of what you'll say is stuff that you'll make up in order to answer the question, "How will you... ." It's like writing fantastic literature or science fiction. I'm waiting for someone to write a proposal in the form of a graphic novel (which is not as silly an idea as you might think). Imagine a proposal in the form of a documentary film, with Angelina Jolie as narrator. (Again, not as silly an idea as you might think, although you probably can't get Angelina.)

(My wife's first cousin was a producer of Charlene Theron's Oscar winning movie, "Monster." Maybe I can get Charlene.)

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You guys are GREAT!!!

Vern, I understand what you are saying and I believe my company can speak to it in such a way. It completely makes sense to me now. I really needed to get an understanding of the intent of the question and I hoped I might get that from at least one seasoned professional on this site . :D I got 2 so thanks!!!!

here_2_help: Your information was very helpful, thank you. We do alright here with our proposal writing, but when one hasn't been asked this type of question before in any prior RFP ever received from the government, well, I think one should explore how best to answer it and seek advice from people who have great, good or better knowledge of it. I had an idea, but needed a bit more information.

Again, thanks.

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