The WashingtonExec Federal Acquisition Council kicked off the busy fall proposal season by hosting a morning roundtable on the topic of “The Future of BD Leadership” with guest provocateur Ed Swallow, President and CEO of Pegasus Strategic Advisors and former Vice President of Business Development for Federal & Defense Technologies at Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Like many business development professionals in the government contracting space, Swallow held the title of “Business Development” for only eight of his 35 years while “always having BD in his blood” and focusing on driving line, program and technical value propositions.
As the govcon IT space continues to contract with reduced federal spending, many at the executive level are debating whether or not to integrate business development duties with those who are client facing or who lead proposal and marketing efforts, thereby creating roles that are a hybrid model of sales, capture and delivery. The benefit of a multi-pronged approach is developing a workforce that can leverage a diverse set of skills, the detriment is asking a workforce to execute something they are not necessarily trained in or are interested in pursuing.
Capture, proposal and delivery make up a part of the “ideal business development professional” but establishing credibility and lasting relationships are equally, if not more, important. The best BD professionals are those can drive trust with current customers, while understanding the company’s operations personnel needs, and also evolving with the overall mission driving the customer.
Many at the roundtable worked in the govcon space in the 1990s, a time of declining federal budget and a time where many companies had to centralize business functions. Those a part of the discussion believe that as the market continues to contract we will see a decrease in workforce specialization and that stand-alone capture, proposal and accounting manager functions will fade away and be outsourced to boutique firms. This shift, in an LPTA environment, will incentive those at the executive level to focus on building versatile employees for the future, not just building capacity in specialists that become increasingly hard to afford.
Like the federal government, federal contractors are being asked to “do more with less” and focus on today’s mission need of the federal government – saving money. As Swallow said in his closing remarks “focusing your strategy on what wins, only doing the things that are directly related to winning and deploying people capable of playing multiple roles simultaneously is the key to winning more while spending less.”
The WashingtonExec Federal Acquisition Council for Business Development Council, Chaired by James Scampavia, VP of Business Development at AMERICAN SYSTEMS, was formed in early 2014 to meet the evolving needs of acquisition professionals in the private and public sectors. VP of Business Development, or equivalent leaders, of emerging and large businesses meet multiple times a year with acquisition and procurement professionals on the rapidly evolving needs of the government customer. Each organization selects one critical talent within the company’s BD unit to observe and participate in meetings.