By Debra Stouffer, EVP, BRMi
We are executing our 8(a) Graduation Plan, developed four years ago. We review our performance to plan monthly, adjust if appropriate, and maintain a clear focus on achieving our goals.
At the heart of graduation preparation is planning. We invested in strategic planning to focus our activities and investments for “quality” growth; growth that will differentiate the company. So we know the type of growth we want, where we want to obtain it, and what investments and support are necessary for success. The strategic plan guides our decisions, and we revisit the plan annually.
We focused on our people
In regards to the management team, we made some changes. We felt that a new management model was critical to enable the company to capture/win full and open work and to oversee larger profit and loss centers and contracts. For example, we added some missing players to the team. We hired a full-time CFO, Senior Knowledge Officer, BD Director, and HR Director. We also eliminated some positions. When VP attrition occurred, we made a conscious choice not to backfill, but rather streamline operations. We increased the book of business for remaining VP’s and built a solid second tier.
We worked on retention of our key players. This started with identifying who they were and why they were important to the company’s growth and success. We invest in all employees, but pay particular attention to key players.
We focused on improved and regular communication with our employees to build a culture that scales. As a few examples, we have a weekly cadence for management meetings; monthly employee technology talks, quarterly all hands meetings, and planned social events such as a corporate softball league. We listen! We encourage employee suggestions and act on them. For example, we have adopted many suggestions and engaged employees to execute them in an effort to improve company processes and systems. For example, with employee teams, we have developed a career progression model, mentor/protégé program, and employee compensation model that rewards successful personal and corporate performance.
We focused on our processes and support systems
We have and continue to put in place the infrastructure necessary for success. For example, we have committed to permanent/leased office space; in-housing of HR, contracts, and finance; and maturing BD processes and execution. All of these decisions and activities are critical to our ability to withstand graduation shock! Improving our infrastructure enables us to be smart about what we capture/bid, competitive in our bidding rates, and flexible to withstand market shifts and rapidly exploit new market opportunities.
We built a solid business base for the launch
BRMi has built a solid business base and has a progressive record of successful management of ever-larger full and open contracts, reducing our dependence on 8(a) contracts. In 2009, we ended our year at $4.5M; 2010-$6.5M; 2011-$13.3M; 2012-$18M; and our plan for 2013 is $23M – all organic growth. With a solid base of business in DHS, State, and Financial Services and recognition of excellent past performance and partnership with a key partner Six3 Systems, we obtained our facilities clearance and now have a growing footprint in DOD/Intel. We put in-place contractual vehicles to effectively extend and/or replace our 8(a) market success (Stars II; ITS-70; MOBIS). We have also put in-place business alliances with 8(a) and large prime contractors using Mentor-Protégé and joint venture relationships. In fact now, we are looking at acquisitions in key target areas.
Finally, we have and continue to learn from others
We spend a lot of time meeting with our colleagues and learn from them. There are many successful 8(a) graduates that are willing to share their experiences – both what worked and what didn’t work.
Debra Stouffer is Executive Vice President of BRMi and a 30 year IT veteran in the public and private sector. Stouffer is also a recognized “thought leader” with a solid record of achievement in leading large-scale organizations and enterprise-wide IT programs. Prior to joining BRMi, Stouffer served as Senior Vice President at ManTech, leading top and bottom line growth of their $80M Civilian and Homeland Security IT Business. Prior to ManTech, she served as Vice President, Strategic Consulting Practice, and Vice President, Business Development at BAE Systems Information Technology.
As a senior government executive, Stouffer served as the CTO at the Environmental Protection Agency and as the Deputy Chief Information Officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She is also a three time Government Computer Week Federal 100 Award winner and a past President and current Director of the Association of the Federal Information Resource Managers.