A year after Mia began guiding Elabor8 on the journey to winning government business, the niche consultancy has embraced new government sales strategies, and is now supporting the government digital transformation.
Deciding your business needs to tap into the massive government market and making it happen are two decidedly different things. Government works differently from the commercial sector. The hot buttons are different. The processes are different. The opportunities are certainly there, but the challenge is often how to be considered a viable contender.
This is what Elabor8, a consultancy that specialises in improving process effectiveness using the Agile project methodology, discovered when it set out to market its services to government departments and agencies in 2016.
“Government represented a largely untapped opportunity for us, particularly as the digital transformation is driving demand for Agile in government,” says Kim Ballestrin, Head of Industries at Elabor8.
“But after talking to various government people, it soon became clear that we had no means of selling into government. We weren’t really aware of what was involved. Firstly, we weren’t on the right government purchasing panels.”
Kim says the Elabor8 team realised that, just as they coach organisations in Agile, they needed a government business specialist to coach them in how to engage with government. So Elabor8 engaged Mia in early 2017 to guide them on the journey.
Mia immediately began working with Elabor8 to build knowledge and strategies for identifying, generating and winning government business opportunities, initially focusing on the Victorian and Federal Governments.
According to Kim, Elabor8’s first major government opportunity came through the federal Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), which emphasised the need to be registered on the right government purchasing panels – in this case the Digital Marketplace. The Digital Marketplace is a federal government web portal where government buyers and sellers (especially small to medium enterprises) can connect for the procurement of ICT products and services ($6 billion a year total spend).
Registration on the Digital Marketplace is mandatory for engagements by certain federal departments, including the BOM. Companies need to register and be evaluated in specific criteria. Elabor8 registered in four Digital Marketplace criteria – 1) Agile delivery and government, 2) Software development and engineering, 3) Training, and 4) User Research and Design.
Mia provided advice and helped pull together the information for the submissions to ensure the content and messages would be well received by government assessors. After successfully registering in these categories, Elabor8 is winning work and remains eligible for contracts with other agencies. The company hasn’t looked back.
“The amount of work gained through the Digital Marketplace has blown away my expected forecasts for government contracts,” Kim says. Among the contracts won is a project for the Department of Immigration in Canberra to provide Agile consulting, training and coaching.
Government panels and more
Beyond the Digital Marketplace, Mia is continuing to coach Elabor8 in a number of areas aimed at growing both state and federal government work. This includes helping prioritise which federal and state government departments to target, identifying additional purchasing panels, advice on submissions, and introductions to key government influencers. Attending key events and targeting speakers and attendees is also key.
Elabor8 is currently awaiting confirmation of acceptance onto two important purchasing panels for the Department of Defence. They are also registered with a number of state government purchasing panels in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
“We now know to monitor panel opportunities,” Kim says with a grin. “If we’re in conversation with government, we know we’re eligible to be engaged if we’re on the right panel – or at least we now know to ask which panels we need to be on.”
Kim says the process of selling into government has required some adjustment. “The lead times for government are really long,” she says. “The path to signing the contract requires significant investment in both time and energy, with a lot of nurturing of relationships.”
In the end, though, Kim maintains the amount of business being brought in through government contracts is making all the effort worthwhile, with the guidance and coaching Mia continues to provide being a huge part of that.
Elabor8 is a consulting company that helps speed the creation of customer value through a focus on people, teams and organisational agility. We give organisations the flexibility to approach challenges with the skills, insight and capacity to deliver real value. Our whole-of-business approach builds knowledge and capability in people, and efficiency improvements in teams, processes and systems across technology, product innovation and design, agile delivery and advisory.