Being fast, agile and nimble is something many government contracting firms aspire to be. But for the Arlington, Virginia-based management, consulting, technology and business services firm Dynamic Pro, Inc., that goal has been its singular focus since its founding 10 years ago.
Dynamic Pro’s name says it all.
“I thought the best representation of the work that I wanted to do was encapsulated by the word, ‘dynamic,’” says Dynamic Pro CEO Andrea Stone, who started the company following her tenure with multinationals such as Xerox, FedEx, DHL and Booz Allen Hamilton. “It’s this concept of providing customers exactly what they want with a proactive approach, anticipating unexpected events, and going beyond expectations.”
For Stone, exceeding customer expectations has come through a concerted focus on change and performance management. Along the way, Dynamic Pro has doubled in size year over year – despite an often rocky government contracting landscape beset by sequestrations and belt-tightening. A loyal customer base has followed closely behind.
“Our customer base has not changed – in fact, we are still working with some of our initial ones,” says Stone, who counts the Transportation Department, Amtrak, as well as various transit organizations among her customers.
“Just as we’ve built long-term relationships with our customers, our mission continues to be the same –delivering a multidisciplinary approach to helping clients understand what they need to do and what their program mission is, whether it’s a strategic or change management plan or workflow analysis, and really helping customers come up with an operational strategy and then deliver it in a way where they can track performance,” Stone says.
Additional DPI customers who benefit from this approach include the departments of Homeland Security (where DPI recently won a contract with DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate); Housing and Urban Development (at which DPI recently won a contract to provide technical evaluation panel support and facilitation services); and Health and Human Services.
“We also support many organizations that are charged with repairing, detecting, responding to and recovering from incidents that can be natural disasters or terrorism,” says Stone, citing DPI’s work with Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, Mission Support, and the Technological Hazards Division. “Being able to support our nation in becoming more resilient is part of our core values and mission.”
That emphasis is anything but routine.
When Stone founded Dynamic Pro a decade ago, the industry was just beginning to face questions about grants and program management – especially, where the money was going and if disaster assistance programs administered by FEMA were actually reaching communities in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Stone, herself, was no stranger to witnessing haphazard approaches to project management.
“I came from an environment where people would jot down schedules for $200 million on the back of napkins,” Stone says. “Many organizations at the time, relying on knowledge management systems, had a ton of data – but they didn’t really know what to do with it or how best to use it for decision support.”
As Stone sees it, those industry challenges remain the same. For DPI, that simply means more opportunity to make a mark delivering management consulting, business services and technology services. Many of those services require streamlined resource allocation processes such as grants management and capital planning.
“There are still big questions about how agencies spend money – and how to become more transparent and open data up to citizens and organizations that are interested in knowing how funds are used,” Stone says. “Our mission has always been to maximize clients’ resources.”
Maximizing that potential means focusing on talent recruitment and retention.
“We place a lot of emphasis on hiring the right fit for the customer,” says Stone, whose company has roughly 45 consultants. And all of them, Stone notes, come with a unique set of hybrid skills.
While some firms rely solely on financial management consultants to build data bases, DPI routinely recruits staff with both financial management and technology backgrounds – “people who understand both worlds,” as Stone puts it. That approach solves the problem of “the stovepipe,” she adds.
“In cases where clients have something like eight different data bases and they had just transitioned their financial management system – and we could not get in there to get our report – we started thinking about how we could solve this issue,” says Stone, whose support of technical job creation extends to participation in STEM programs, such as Women in Homeland Security and Women in Transportation. In addition, Stone invests in personnel certifications, such as PMPs and security certifications.
“We started recruiting strategic hires — people who could go to IT and say, ‘Could you give me this report in this configuration,’ or even turn their own SQL queries in order to access and make use of information,” Stone says. “Strategic hires that have domain expertise is a key growth element for any small- to mid-sized company looking at that next management layer.”
Equally important has been an emphasis on communicating change – something that doesn’t always come easy in federal environments, despite the Open Government Initiative of the outgoing administration.
“The two things we do to overcome those challenges are put very good data quality control in place, where people can see exactly what is happening to the data – who is going to approve it and when it’s going to be released to the public,” says Stone, whose knack for agility – and solid communication – is fueled by a multilingual background, based on a childhood spent traveling the world with parents who engaged in international work.
“I feel very fortunate that [articulating the cultural change]has been one of our foundational areas of expertise – communicating change and why change is needed,” Stone says.
Looking ahead, Stone remains confident in DPI’s direction.
“We have a strong organic base – and because we understand the business of our clients – we will continue to be selected for certain opportunities,” says Stone, whose areas of expansion will include cybersecurity. “We will continue to focus on those domains where we are strong, where we understand the mission and where we can execute well from a functional perspective.”