Archive for Administration

Lessons Learned

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LESSONS LEARNED

What is a “Lessons Learned” session and what is it for?

We all learn as we go in business. As different scenarios come along and we struggle with them, we learn. This is why experience is the true indicator of probability of success.  A session doing a “Lessons Learned” can be a quick discussion but to the point and can reap great benefits.

Doing an “LL” creates cohesiveness to your team. It identifies mistakes immediately and brings about solutions and resolutions to do things in a different way the next time.

The most important “LL” sessions come after proposals that do not win the award. Typically, you can obtain a briefing verbally from the Prime or the Government buyer regarding the reasons why you did not win. If not, your team can generate its own ideas and research those ideas.

What if the funding on a contract goes wrong and you lose incentive fees on a Cost Plus Incentive Fee type contract? Discuss this with your team and it will not take long to create a learning experience out of the brainstorming teams do.

There is no blame or shame to looking at your failures. As a united front, the team looks at these failures and gets stronger and better.

Now here is the most important part:  Don’t forget the great things your team accomplishes! Those are great “LL”. If you try something new or you implement a specific process, examining the success will enable the team to repeat it.

How do you do a Lessons Learned session?

1. Site the object of the lesson. For example: Did not manage costs and now have to ask for more funding sooner than anticipated.

2. Discuss the way the costs were handled and what circumstances lead to the over expenditure.

3. Brainstorm on how to avoid this in the future. Ask the team who can help mitigate the problem in the future and how.

4. Write down the Lesson Learned and distribute to all the team members for their safe keeping.

5. Conduct all discussion in a constructive and open-minded manner, never leaving the lesson in one individual’s lap.

Last note on the subject:

Include your “LL” with your record of your performance rating in order to assist in creating a past performance history that is truly meaningful so that it becomes evident that your team is progressive and strong.

 

By Contract Connections Administration Services, LLC

Cheryl Ann DePace 410-302-6251

Government Contract Compliance

 

Yes I'm Compliant on a badge with lanyard to tell customers that you comply with important legal rules, regulations and guidelines to give them confidence that your practices are legitimate and safe

 Government Contract Compliance

What does it mean to be “compliant”?  In the case of Government contracts, who are you complying with?

Well, the answer to that might be easy. We comply with the Government’s rules and regulations.  But how do we do that? Who knows if we have been naughty or nice?  Do they come looking for us like the IRS and tell us to be prepared because we are getting audited?  Do we submit anything to anyone that holds us accountable on a regular basis?

Let’s look at this!

The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) is the cognizant audit agency that is responsible for performing audits to ensure Government compliance with FAR.  Predominantly, it is the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) which determines how contracts with the Federal Government are regulated.  DCAA approves a company’s accounting system for the Federal Government.  DCAA approves a company’s indirect cost rates (Overhead, General Administration, Fringe Benefits, Material and Handling etc.).  What is the purpose of these audits?  Why do FAR regulations exist? FAR regulations exist to minimize the financial risk of the Government and thus, saving the taxpayers’ money.

Once an accounting system is approved, it is approved.  However, indirect cost rates will go across the desk of a Contracting Officer if you bid on Requests for Proposals. How does the Contracting Officer determine that they are fair and reasonable? Why, they are reviewed by DCAA by request of the Contracting Officer!

So, our contracts go to DCAA for audits of indirect cost rates on a frequent basis if we are competing in the open Federal Government contract market.

This is all about being in compliance and the best way to be in compliance and to remain in compliance is to be proactive with the infrastructure of your business.  What does that mean?

It means that, from the very beginning of doing Federal Government contracts, you must set up your accounting system so that it will meet DCAA requirements.  How is this achieved?  You must seek a firm who is knowledgeable, and experienced about the FAR regulations.  Remember, Government contracting is a special niche which requires customized and flexible solutions for the technical issues that comes with government cost accounting.

And what about Indirect Cost Rates?

The important thing to remember is that a small business will have rates that go up and down a lot in the beginning. You must calculate your indirect cost rates as it is stipulated in the FAR and bill your Prime contractor or the Government accordingly. Basically, it is simple. Your total costs are compared to those that are related to overhead as a percentage. The same is done for your other indirect costs.

These “cost pools” and their ratio to the expenses in each category of indirect costs are calculated as of the date of their implementation.  Those Indirect Cost Rates are then applied to labor costs.  A labor rate submitted on a Government proposal is then “burdened” in that it contains the applicable indirect costs and wrapped into a combined cost.  Rule #1, aside from accurate math calculations, is consistency. You must settle on the indirect rates you are going to use for a time period and ask the DCAA to make a determination as to their reasonableness.  Provision is made for the time constraints in proceeding with the process. Small businesses in particular with rates that go up and down need to revisit their rates annually.

This is where the term Provisional Indirect Cost Rates comes from. The DCAA will allow you to predict your actual indirect rate costs and make provisions for you to use those rates in your bids until they are audited and either accepted or adjusted. If an adjustment is necessary, then it is made before the contract is closed out.

DCAA will come to audit your accounting system. They determine that it can calculate and burden these indirect cost rates along with allocating, allowing or disallowing, all costs incurred to the contracts.  This will occur when you bid on contracts that are large enough to require an approved accounting system. As a subcontractor, a small business may not need to have an approved accounting system; that is until they work on a contract that is awarded over a certain amount.  This is determined by The FAR and the amount changes periodically.

This is just a short and vague description of the auditing functions of the Government but it makes two things very clear:

  1. Compliance from the beginning will save you much consternation later on.  This includes timekeeping compliance to support your costs.
  2. Understanding Cost Accounting Standards is of top priority for contractors and subcontractors.

Please refer to the following link for an excellent resource of information on this subject (given by DCAA).

http://www.dcaa.mil/cam/Chapter_08_-_Cost_Accounting_Standards.pdf

Does this seem to be overwhelming?  Contact me and I will refer you to a Compliance Professional who is working with Contract Connections Administration Services.  Sign in to my website so that you will be informed of any changes in the area of this part of Federal Government contracting.

Cheryl Ann De Pace www.thecontractnavigator.com    / Mark Vilches   Main@dcaaspecialists.com       410-302-6251

Grow Your Business, Subcontracting!

verhuis1  Don’t Let This Be Your House

This house is the house of many who are struggling with their small businesses right now. I have sent my workers to take it away and replace it with a win-win house of prosperity.

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This house is owned by someone who does subcontracts with the Government.  This is a win-win house of prosperity.

It may seem like a whole lot of extra trouble to do subcontracts with the Government but remember: The process for doing well with your subcontracts is easily taught. The government always pays its bills!

There is a big demand for GOOD subcontractors who know what they are doing.

You need to do a good job and build a significant past performance. The key is to manage your contracts like projects and to learn the metrics and analyses that keep things easily monitored and controlled.

And when you are at the end of the subcontract, you need to close it out. This means that it is done  and you are not billing incorrectly on your final payment.

So, you need to stay in compliance with the regulations regarding subcontracts in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).  This is accomplished by understanding the FAR and looking up the clauses that are given in the subcontract.

Subcontracting opportunities are listed on various databases. These databases exist in an effort to keep a supply of small businesses available for the Government and to be assured that small business will get 30% of the Government contracts awarded.  This is a regulation!

Past performance can be documented through a method called The Subcontract Project.  Anyone with project management experience can easily follow this methodology. Bid on opportunities and network with other small businesses. Involve yourself with forming teams of competent vendors that join together and create an effective work plan.  When you win, you will need to manage your subcontract from the very start.

With templates and good old fashioned hands on experience, you can become a certified subcontractor and this will make the Prime look twice at you in its hunt for small businesses to subcontract. After all, you have been trained and have demonstrated your knowledge of the things that matter the most to your Prime contractor.

Subcontracts are also negotiated regarding terms of payment. You can, as a subcontractor, negotiate for net 30 or even payment bimonthly based on the fact that you are a small business.

The Statement of Work is given to establish the explicit expectations of the work you will do. Follow it and your other terms and conditions. Then document your success!   The most important part of the proposal, aside from the actual financial bid, is proof that you have done well in the past and will continue to do well with the new assignments from the Prime contractor.

In order to prosper more in this economy, put yourself where the money is.  Understand that it is mandatory that you, as a small business, are sought to do work that the Government has to offer.

How long does it take to make the transition into Government subcontracting? Simple! It could be one day or months, depending upon your level of understanding of the process and the project of a subcontract.

You must be registered as being approved to do work for the Government by being registered on www.sam.gov .  There are codes and other formalities but you can be guided through the steps move through it quickly. Once you are in www.sam.gov , you are visible to all Primes looking for someone who does your work.

Subcontracting is said not to be as lucrative as being a Prime and contracting directly with the Government. In my opinion and with my experience, although your profit may be lower- in the long run, you will do well to become a popular subcontractor and reap the rewards of your past performance and naturally progress into the position of bidding directly to the Government.

Consistently working and consistently getting paid is a more lucrative choice.  There are no collection agencies necessary in your life when working for the Government. There is no advantage to withhold money from you in this industry as you are always working under strict regulations. So, you won’t be calling on collection agencies with Federal Government subcontracts.

Reach out to me if you are interested in The Subcontract Project class. Sign into my website at www.thecontractnavigator.com .  Dates and times will be sent to you.

verhuis1

Contract Connections Administration Services, LLC

410-302-6251

Cheryl Ann De Pace, Director of Operations

The Subcontract Project

Contract Tracking        +        Financial Tracking     =          Closeout

Watch a video on Closeouts

Here is a very simplified formula for the process of a subcontract.  There are Terms and Conditions to follow (Contract Tracking) and there is your Funding (Financial Tracking).  Lastly, there is the Closeout when you have performed a reconciliation of your records with the Prime contractor’s records and you have a complete record of the administrative details of the contract.

There is a lot that goes along with this simple diagram. As you can see, there is a starting point that leads to a closure of the contract.  The contract has been initiated; it has been administrated, has expired and is now over. Both parties agree that the contract has come to its end without any miscalculations and with a delivery of the products or services in a satisfactory manner.

If you remember this diagram, you can use it to simplify your filing system and your process.

It is true that much has to transpire between the award and the closeout.  This is where your ability to remain organized and to document all conversations during the execution is of paramount importance.  Within the Financial Tracking is the need to apply indirect rates to the billing under circumstances and in most cases a fee percentage.  Fluctuations in this area are typically caused by changes in the indirect rates which apply across the costs as they are forecasted and must be approved.  Indirect rates are the percentages applied to the costs according to overhead and fringe predominantly.  With an approved accounting system, you do have the option to fix the rates for the contract and not delay the closeout for approval and adjustment.  So, with everything else tracked and all terms and conditions met, the closeout becomes the unpopular task of the process of a subcontract.

My recommendation is that you start documenting your process from the very beginning by utilizing a uniform format that pulls your project together in a linear fashion. If you have not had instruction in project management, I recommend a class that explains the principles and the stages of a project. Learn the tracking of a project. Organize what you do, religiously.  If it takes a little longer on the front end to organize your files and follow a consistent path, do it. It is well worth the effort.  Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Lastly, some words on the Federal Acquisition Regulations (the FAR):

Read the FAR Clauses associated with your subcontract. These have been passed down from the Prime contractor without explanation or clarification. You must look them up and read them and note them. This may seem daunting as the FAR is a very large body of regulations.  This is where you set up your file for tracking and note what needs to be considered part of the terms and conditions of your subcontract.  The individual who read the RFP became well versed in these regulations so that is the individual who can be most helpful.  Before you were awarded your subcontract you did a proposal in consideration of all these clauses.

In financial business settings, there are products that have different guidelines.  The underwriter of a financial product application has to know the product description to be effective. The FAR has a similar application. It is not uncommon for companies to write their own product description manual in order to have a good reference tool.  You can do this with the FAR.  Create a manual that has the primary sections of the regulations and then break it down into sections for the “parts” you may need to look for.  This is a project in itself but a good administrative support person can do this and it is well worth the effort. Then you have your guidelines that change.  These become this individual’s focus.

To summarize:

You may ask why someone would need to be so fastidious about tracking the projects you call your subcontracts.

If you are armed with order, consistency, good tracking, and easy references- subcontracting with anyone will be much easier.

The answer is simple and mitigates your risk in not developing a good past performance.

The better you are at organizing and tracking your subcontracts, the better you will be in the end when it is time to do a closeout.  Consider that the Closeout of the contract is the most important element of your project. It is the most difficult too.

Therefore, the simple diagram above can truly represent the simplicity of it all and that is what this blog is all about; keeping it simple.

 

CONTRACT CONNECTIONS ADMINISTRATION SERVICES, INC.

Cheryl Ann De Pace

410-302-6251

Where you get a D U N S number!

 

 

 

http://www.dnb.com/duns-number.html

Just go in and register and follow the process. If you intend to do business with the Government, you need to register with SAM at www.sam.gov .  To complete the paperwork,  you will need a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet. It is free of charge for you if you are going to be in SAM.

 

It’s a holiday!

stop[1]Happy Holidays to all of you, particularly those who are working today. What are you doing? This is the largest celebration taking place all over the world! It is time to take a break. Ha! Being self employed, especially, makes that tough, doesn’t it? We all have our books to keep and our blogs to write. We have budgets to follow and backlog to attend to. Are you the owner of a small business? Well, then there are positions that can’t be filled at that! So, I am guilty as sin. I really can’t advise you on this one. But, I can tell you what happened to me today that made me “STOP”. Here it is.

My fiancé and I were both sick from working too much and woke up to unpacked Christmas decorations and two cats that somehow know that they are owed a pate on a china plate today. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and shook my head thinking about yesterday when I worked all day and drove two hours to boot. Ugh, why did I do that?

The weather was warm and we opened the front door to let some fresh air in the house. And what did my wandering eyes see but a red stocking in the hand of my loved one. No, he did not give it to me. He fell behind in his Christmas duties just like I did to help a dear friend move into his apartment. No, this stocking had been hanging on my door outside and it had my name in glitter on it and toted a red card inside. I was enchanted.
The stocking was from a dear friend of mine whom I had not heard from in quite some time. As a matter of fact, she does not know that I have my own business now and am sliding into workaholism. The card read,

“Cheryl, I have not been taking out very many Christmas decorations these past couple years. Somehow I came across your stocking- the one we made for you when you lived with us. It is hard not to think of the friendship we had and I wanted you to have this to show you that you are missed and loved. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Blessed New Year!”

Folks, my heart sank to the floor. I asked myself what I was doing by losing my balance and drifting away from the reason why I am working so hard to build my business. I want to create something out of nothing but what is inside of me and give it to others, sure. But, I am measuring it in dollars and cents and that is not the measure of my success. How many other friends are thinking of me as I run back and forth, here and there and everywhere, on the hamster wheel of work? And now I am grateful that I am sick on Christmas instead of a work day?

Well, my fiancé and I are having Christmas on Sunday and we are going shopping and building the Christmas town we build every year tomorrow. We are going to wrap the gifts and play Christmas music and…
I am just going to write this one little blog, okay? I can’t kid you. I love what I do and I have to admit that it can get selfish. Yes, I said it! “Selfish!”
So, STOP! Enjoy the fruits of your labor. It cannot be less than the exhilaration of that paycheck you give yourself as you build the business you are proud of. Stop and live your private life and forget about the million things you could be doing instead.

I wonder how many people can relate to this little story today. Perhaps there is fear or a lack of confidence at the base of your efforts to catch up on your worldly business duties. Put it all away. There is a reason for this season. As a matter of fact, there are many reasons and they don’t include working until you are sick and crashing when you have time off.

Merry Christmas, my hard-working associates! I see you in my mind. I know what you are doing. Love your other life too. Pick up a hobby if you don’t. And if you miss someone who is doing what I DID- hang a stocking on their door and remind them that we would not have holidays if we did not work. And we would not have loved ones if that is all we did.
Now, I am going to go have a pizza. Yes, it is fattening. Let it be. Let it be. Speaking words of wisdom…LET IT BE.

Here is to a loving and restful Christmas with all the trimmings and a prosperous New Year (another day you need to take off, okay?)

large-red-stop-sign-166.6-4660[1]Cheryl
Contract Connections Administration Services, LLC

Your Closeouts – Remember Those?

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I am the File Queen for CCAS, LLC. I am hidden in your tallest stacks of 5- year-old files. I eliminate them and create order and good audits. Oh, do I love thee. Let me tell the ways:

1. I list every file you have with their status in a spreadsheet so I can kidnap your files and hold them with me. I become the guard and you need only to do a Control-Find to see if I have a file.

2. As you hold the list on your computer, you will receive updates as the closeouts slowly take shape and you are in need of a filing protocol. Order. We need order so that the forms can be received and filed and the files can be plucked from the pile and get their “freedom” stamped, “CLOSED”.

3. The close out of a Federal Government contract or subcontract revolves around problem solving. Whatever is needed for the actual close out brings about questions and research and communications with the past. This is not a fast process. Financially speaking; the file needs to be reconciled like its progress reports that are merely monthly reconciliations. If you follow a good progress reporting process monthly, you will find that the closeout takes form on its own. That is my secret. It is like putting your finger on the pulse of the file each month and then you record the vital signs on a spreadsheet with the same entries for a high level comparison. This comparison is done with correct data.

4. Keep a checklist of what you need to obtain for the file. Don’t use a checklist that asks you questions. The questions should be in your head and creating a synergy, a feeling for the file. But you need to bet detailed and concise when you are collecting the forms you need. You need to hear from the Program Manager or the Principal Investigator. You need to hear from the Vendor. And finally you need to hear from your accounting department or access the database of the financial course of the contract.

5. The emails are kept and the phone calls are noted. The process is not boring and it is full bodied and time consuming. But…

…imagine this…
You have a contract with a University that you know from the past. You want to know more to manage the contract and you want to see the old file. You go to a file cabinet and follow the nomenclature to find it. Not a single file is out of place or there is a card place holder where it may have been borrowed by another. You open the file and everything is in the same order you expect in any of the files. You are instantly aware of the contract’s history and contacts. There is a rating of the contractor. You know they will be weak in providing pricing. You make some decisions regarding how you will manage the file…to include a calculator made for the contractor to use when you need progress from them.

Meanwhile, a contract period of performance has just ended. It is time for the file to move through the process to go to the closed files and join them. A process is used by following a simple checklist and the knowledge of the contract closeout process. The questions that you are supposed to be asking are those that will lead to healthy audit findings. You have a special person who knows all about closeouts and you feel confident that they will close out the file adequately. Nothing is piling up and rotting in the back room! There are no mysterious archives of files that never seem to look as nice as the contracts in process. No more!

When I started my consulting business, I had put in 12 years of doing a lot of contracts and subcontracts. I have, at any given time, as I review a file: millions of questions that come from my experience. I know where to start and I know when I have truly completed the closeout.

But my clients know that closeouts are typically considered the most unpleasant contract action. They know that it is something that can be done at a later time in most cases. Do they acknowledge that they need to be taken care of sooner than later? What do the auditors want to see? When will they come to see my files? Can I hire a temp to do the close outs like an administrator who then relies on the Contract Administrator for an understanding of the story of the file?

I recommend that you hire a specialist and clear out the backlog so that the closeouts may then be maintained by all those who use the files. I recommend someone who can go right to the bones of the contract and the history and that requires experience. Every single contract is different. Every single close out is different.

So, the Universe has put me in the midst of many closeout files. I have other things to do and I know too much to overlook anything that may come up negatively in an audit. After doing about 300+- of them, I have encountered many interesting situations. Closeouts are more interesting than contract definitization or putting together negotiated terms and conditions. Closeouts are an administrator’s final analysis and it takes an individual who knows them from soup to nuts.

Call me and let’s discuss your closeouts if you need to take control of them. I will come to work on your site and change that part of your world! And I am smiling about that because I enjoy it.

Are you ready for an audit of your expired contracts? Are you able to read and utilize your history with your vendors? Isn’t utilization of your history an excellent tool for subcontracting and teaming? Do you want an expert to come in and put order into the cabinets and clarity in your files?

Call me to discuss this at 410-302-6251.
Classes are available in closeouts also.            cartoon-apple-8[1]

TRAFFIC! Ugh.

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TRAFFIC!

I drive 35 miles to work but you could swear that I drive 60. Some lucky days, I get to work in 50 minutes and it is glorious. I love that 65 mile an hour speed limit on I95. Yes! Other days, I get caught in a snarl of bumper to bumper rolling metal compartments that jerk to a stop intermittently. So, I have a long time to think when I go to work. I refuse to try to hurry or to cut in and out as I find there is no way to prevent the inevitable; some days I it will get messy.

I started to think about how driving in traffic is a metaphor to life. We may all feel frustrated and cramped by others, wishing that they would just all disappear. New options begin to formulate in our heads like: stopping for a drink, clobbering someone with a foam rubber bat (or a real one), just stopping and getting out of the jerking motion of the lines and lines of cars to preserve one’s sanity. I have developed a procedure that I would like to share for driving in traffic as a metaphor for keeping up with life.

I know that in the worst traffic (or lets say the worst situation), I will arrive at my destination. I plan for the time of one hour as I have learned that I can bet on that time frame for the most part. Then I label the traffic pattern for the day as mild, delayed, or severe. I set my Garmin for traffic patterns that avoid the traffic snarls and I ask for no tolls. (Nothing like discovering a new toll with no cash in the car.)

Okay so what about life and how it seems to be the same in many ways.
You cannot push people out of your way unless you kill them and that is messy…very messy. You can go with the flow as long as you don’t have to cater to idiots who want to get jiggy and move in and out of your mind for odd or silly reasons. You know that time will pass and someday your life will be over so why rush the whole scene? If you find yourself clawing at the walls because you want things to change and they just will not; what do you do?

Pace yourself. Stay back from the guy in front of you. Watch for that look in their eyes that tells you that they are coming to violate your space whether you like it or not. Back away. Sing a song. Adjust yourself and move along. Keep up with the clock but don’t do anything to buy into the surprises that come with dealing with others. They are bound to slam on their brakes for no reason at all. Or they are just as likely to ride up behind you and get pushy. If you don’t move along, then what happens? Some things cannot be helped.

I like to tap a little tune on my brake lights. LOL They know that I am crazy and they are then afraid of me. Watch them pass you. Let them pass you. Then you will pass them. But seriously, use an assertive posture or you won’t get over to the next lane but stay back. Don’t get to close because you will get blamed for hitting them in the rear end. A professional rolling movement with nothing but a grin would do the same thing as a turn signal and eye contact. Sometimes it works and sometimes the tramp next to you will speed up and try to take your place.

Remain in your own little world. Nice music. Good radio show. Hands off telephone conversations. Or then again; try to be perfect. Perfectionism can be a game. It is called mindfulness when accomplished in a healthy way. Hello and See you later and Have a nice day and Bye Bye and what is that black thing stuck to your right eye lid? What? Ha Ha Ha Its all going at the pace that it has to. You cannot change the flow of life. You can change lanes but we are all moving forward until we get to our exit.

And that is the final conclusion. You can always get a GPS that knows where the heavy traffic is and will take you different routes. You can use the exits. Get out if it gets too thick. Learn all the different ways you can go and exit when things get nonproductive. Oh how I love the feeling of hearing the Garmin telling me to take an exit when I did not expect it. The estimated time for arrival stays the same and I don’t have to roll with the rest of them.

Life gets like that. People become too much and you just smile and take an alternate route. Life is traffic. It is good and then it can be severely botched up. But you can let it surprise you and you can learn to make it your own private game. How will we get through this now? Smile wide. Oooops. Someone cut you off. Well, of all the nerve. Ha! So what? Keep going. Let the party continue in your head. Ride easy. Know your limitations and know the limitations of others. Most of all; do well. Do your driving well.

Realize that there will be good days when everyone is on point and the time goes by quick and things go well. Celebrate. It is unnatural for it to be that way every day. Ha! Hunker down and let it all be the back drop of life not a possible death. Do not be afraid and pay attention.

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed?

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Well folks; it is about that time when things start happening after the summer lull in activity. Conferences, meetings, traveling, conversations galore! This is the busy time and the end of the fiscal year is upon us too! So, what do you do when it all becomes overwhelming?

Your calendar is your very best friend. And you need to have one that you can write many things on one day, yet see the whole month before you like a map. I have a desk calendar. It is the whole month laid out before me. The squares are big and I use a pencil. The eraser is BIG. This is the most important thing I have for controlling my time. Because it is all about controlling your time and really looking at what you have to do from a big picture perspective.

The most effective way to promote my business is to get out there and meet people who need me. All I have to do is make sure that I am out in the world and that I present myself and speak to what I do. The need is there just waiting to be served. And you know, after reading my other blogs, that I am here to serve. I am looking forward to building my business by word of mouth.

I have to be organized though. I need to be calm and open to the flow of the conferences that I wish to attend. I have to think about which groups of people would be interested in what I have to say and what I can offer them. If the conference or workshop or meeting does not apply to what I do, well then I have to pass on it. That is unless there is nothing else to attend and then I can count on meeting great people and finding clients indirectly.

In addition to organization and time control, I stay out of being overwhelmed by trying too hard. We are all in this world together and we are all trying to make a living. I don’t believe that the economy is that bad in the field of Federal Government contracting. Now is a good time to help each other. The next year is going to be a very active year. So, when I go to meet people, I relax and enjoy myself. I don’t focus too hard on “finding” anyone. There is a natural progression that develops when we go and network. There is no trying except the way you describe what you do and how you can assist people. Money takes a back seat to this. Yes, although it is all about making a living. Credibility and finding those people that you “click” with takes the idea of the money to the back seat position.

The picture I shared with you in this blog is one of a room that has so much junk in it that it is overwhelming. The thought of clearing it out can be enough to make one dizzy and turn away. But if you are methodical and you take one step at a time as you naturally gravitate towards organizing the items, you can find yourself in a flow of energy that takes you right through to your goal. Before you know it, the room is organized and making the other rooms beg you for the same attention.

There are times to look at the big picture and then there are times to look at what is in front of you. There are always moments of strategic placement. That would apply to your choice of engagements. Pick the ones for you. Develop relationships with people you really like. That is when it all falls together. I would go into the messy room of clutter in my mind and find the things I like. I would pull them out and place them on my calendar where they belong. If I keep track of that, I will have an enjoyable schedule of things I look forward to doing. The calendar is the room and the clutter is the many different possibilities in your life coming up this fall.

Choose well and go with the flow. When that room is organized, there will be a nice place for you to sit and the money will come as you serve others.

The Solid Foundation and Reorganization of your Business

 

 

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With change, an inevitable fact in life, there is always a need for reorganization. Large companies change, medium companies change, and small companies change. One might ask if the reorganization of companies would have the same foundation regardless of their size. The question is really, “What is the foundation of any company?”
Policies and Procedures are the foundation of a thriving business. It starts early when you form your business plan and evolves into a set of guidelines that will definitively describe the moving parts of the machine you are using to make money. That’s right; the business is like a money making machine. You need clear and concise directions to be sure that you can refer to them when there is any question as to what needs to happen in different scenarios that arise.

Writing policies and procedures should begin with an outline. The outline comes from your business plan. Some parts of the plan will need to be detailed and some will not. You change your focus from “why” the business is viable to “how” it operates in a viable manner. Here is the view point that one takes to establish a difference between the two:
Business Plan: Contract Administration in order to exercise strict quality control from the award of the contract until the closeout.
Policies and Procedures: Outline of how the contracts are administrated.

Depending on how many individuals participate in writing the policies and procedures, the task can easily be segregated into sections that will be combined in the end to make a complete guide. The Accounting Department creates a flow chart and description of what they do; the Contracts Department creates the same; Human Resources the same; and so on.

So how does it all tie together and how does it work for you? Here is an example:
Let’s say that your President steps down to retire and a new one comes on board. He or she reads the current policies and procedures to see how the teams and staff are working at the present time. This imparts an invaluable understanding onto the new President who is busy gathering information and must keep the organization running smoothly. Then as time continues, the President sees things he or she wants to improve upon. A revision is created through discussions and the support of a good administrator and the policies and procedures are rewritten. Changes are made slowly and deliberately and all remains calm and routine. This is very important so as not to interrupt the work flow of the company.

One more important consideration is that a business plan stays in flux, typically. It develops and deepens as the business takes hold. Therefore, policies and procedures must mirror the business plan. When changes are made they must occur in both documents.

This website is geared towards those of you who own small businesses and I want to stress the importance of those things that a small business does to stay ahead of the growing curve. Policies and procedures, the foundation of your business, must be written early and treated with a serious focus. Most importantly, they must be followed. Rules are made to be challenged, no doubt, but not to be ignored.

If you find that you would like some assistance in developing a nice comprehensive manual for your business yet you do not have time to do it, I have written many of them and would be most helpful in that area. So, if you have any questions, please call me and ask me questions if you need answers (see my contact information on my About Me tab).

Make your policies and procedures manual clear, concise, easy to read, and short-winded. Here is a starting line for your policies and procedures. After the title page, you can write a forward that reads something like this,
“This guidebook is yours to keep and it is written to assist you in understanding how our business operates. Please read it thoroughly, ask questions if you have them, and keep it close at hand. Sign and date on the acknowledgement page to show your commitment to supporting us in our way of doing business. Thank you and welcome aboard!”