Meet Veeral Majmudar, the president and chief executive of Savan Group — an 8(a) management consulting firm based in Arlington, Va. The self-pronounced Michael Jordan fan is an entrepreneur who holds an M.B.A. from Georgetown University. At Savan Group he oversees the company’s day-to-day operations and the design, development and implementation of strategic plans.
When WashingtonExec featured him in 2011, Majmudar spoke about some of his best mistakes, the growing risk of cybersecurity threats and the importance of teamwork.
This time around Majmudar gave us his take on where he plans to take the company in the next three years, his market outlook for government contracting, his strategy for overcoming constrained federal budgets as well as how he would change the federal procurement process and LPTA.
WashingtonExec: What are you most excited about with respect to Savan Group? What challenges exist for you in the next three years?
Veeral Majmudar: I’m most excited about the potential for our work to have a real impact on a national level. A great example is in recent years we’ve been working with a number of clients conducting in-depth research focused on specific policy initiatives. And in many instances, this research has contributed to a broader goal as part of some sort of national initiative or national programs.
In terms of challenges, I think the challenges that exist now and will continue to exist for the near future are those that we all hear about. You know, the contracting environment certainly is still a challenging one…a competitive one. At Savan Group we have tried to position ourselves in a manner that allows us to be a niche player with specific subject matter expertise. We have to continue to work to build that reputation, to build that brand, to educate our clients on what it is that we do and that we’ve done successfully, so that we can carve out a place in the market that speaks to our skills, to our expertise and to our experience. Hopefully that results in more opportunities for the firm.
“The pie has been getting smaller for several years, but the number of people at the table has remained constant — if not increased.”
WashingtonExec: What is your market outlook for government contracting as it stands now?
Veeral Majmudar: I would characterize my outlook as cautiously optimistic. It’s been a tough few years for anyone involved in the government contracting industry. This has been particularly true for small business. Despite the fact that government has small business participation goals, we have seen increased competition at all levels, on all sizes of contracts. The contracting market, by and large, continues to contract, no pun intended.
The pie has been getting smaller for several years, but the number of people at the table has remained constant — if not increased. We have seen some upswing in activity, but it continues to be a very demanding market in which players, particularly small businesses, must continue to be proactive in identifying opportunities, in working with contracting officials in various agencies to ensure that they are getting considered for new opportunities.
WashingtonExec: What’s key for a small business to survive in an economic downturn?
Veeral Majmudar: I’ll outline three objectives I’ve laid out for our firm that are critical for success in this environment. First, small businesses need to form strategic partnerships with other organizations that complement their core competencies, thereby providing clients with a broad array of integrated service offerings. We do a great job identifying firms that could be partners of ours — in that way, we provide a better value proposition to our clients.
Second, small businesses have to provide best in-class project management services. Our experience has show that, more than anything else, clients want a seamless, proactive, efficient project management approach that allows them to focus on day-to-day activities while ensuring that contract objectives and milestones are being fulfilled and that they are receiving full transparencies in terms of contractor activities.
Lastly, and this going to sound cliché but I do think that finding the right people is fundamental to any small businesses success. Finding the right people has tangible and intangible benefits. When you hire the right people you ensure project success, you develop a better corporate culture and more than anything else you build stronger client relationships.
“The only way to ensure fair and equal competition is to be an active participant in ensuring that occurs. When it doesn’t occur, we have an obligation and responsibility to address that and let people in power know that perhaps this wasn’t a fair and equal competition.”
WashingtonExec: If you could change the procurement process, how would you change it to ensure fair and equal competition?
Veeral Majmudar: Great question. Small businesses need to remain active in the dialogue. Given the competitive landscape in the current climate and current budget, small businesses need to leverage the resources available to them to educate contracting officials and others in the industry regarding small business goals, small business opportunities and the actual procurement process.
The only way to ensure fair and equal competition is to be an active participant in ensuring that occurs. When it doesn’t occur, we have an obligation and responsibility to address that and let people in power know that perhaps this wasn’t a fair and equal competition.
WashingtonExec: What are your thoughts on Lowest Price Technically Acceptable contracts in business?
Veeral Majmudar: LPTA has become much more common than it used to be. On one side of the coin you can certainly understand why, as agencies are trying to procure services with limited budgets. However, I think there are real risks involved with this, particularly when you don’t have a very defined scope of work. Lowest Price Technically Acceptable in many cases results in the government procuring services from vendors who may or may not be qualified, because their only criteria for ensuring or awarding the contract is compliance with the proposal requirements and then the lowest price. In some cases, contractors who are qualified, who may actually provide the best value to the government are not necessarily the cheapest. At the end of the day, if you bring in a sub-par, or under-qualified firm, you’re going to end up paying more for those services in the long run, whether it means because you have to go back and repeat some of the work or whether you have to extend the contract because things weren’t done as you envisioned.
It’s a real risk and I think government agencies should think twice about procuring services on a LPTA basis.
WashingtonExec: What takes up your spare time?
Veeral Majmudar: Joyfully, my kids take up my spare time. When I’m not in the office, I’m usually with my family and if not that, I do enjoy a nice round of golf or being active in some sort of sport, whether it’s basketball or tennis, just getting some physical activity when I can. I am also involved with Georgetown University’s Business School Entrepreneurship In Residence program, which allows me to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and help them formulate their ideas, build their concepts, and ultimately, help them achieve a dream and goal of starting a company.
Related: Veeral Majmudar’s Three Pieces of Advice to his Children: Think for yourself, Treat others as equals, Mistakes happen
Related: Veeral Majmudar, CEO of Savan Group: Sequestration’s Impact on Small Business