Looking Back….and Ahead

When it comes to work, I have a general rule that I only allow myself one day to react to an outcome, whether it is good or bad. I believe that reflection is a key for personal and professional growth. After all, integrateIT’s trademarked portfolio management solution, iSPINE (cheap plug!) will tell you that documenting lessons learned is a key component to project closeout. However, if I allow myself to get too high or too low, I have come to realize that it stunts my productivity. Get excited about a new hire? Take the day and enjoy it, because just as quickly a position will be cut. Add a new teaming partner? Enjoy, because tomorrow a teammate may wish you your best in your future endeavors.

Just like in blackjack, the business cards have no memory. Whether you won or lost a hand, or several in a row (I’ve heard…), each day brings a new deck of cards. 2014 was a successful year for the Company. integrateIT met approximately 90 percent of our corporate goals. We added six new employees, we contributed time and financial resources to several outstanding charities, we added new teaming partners, and Geoff and I ended our ninth year in a row where we are still speaking to one another. The year was not without its challenges. Two of our contracts ended and were not renewed (thanks for the 3 days notice US Government! I kid. Kind of.), the affordable health care act proved to be anything but (for more information on this, read my self-help blog from October, available via the Google), training budgets and award fees were cannibalized, and Scott Stapp still hasn’t found the criminal who stole $30 million from his bank account.

As soon as the year ended, Geoff and I set forth to plan our way forward in 2015. Almost immediately, we found ourselves saying what we have said each year for the past 9 years- that 2015 will be our most challenging year yet. This time, however, I definitely believe it. Our two Prime contracts are up for re-compete this year. Both face uncertainty of renewal. If the contracts go away, approximately 1/4th of the jobs in our company would be cut. That is an impact to our employees, their families, and our company. Not a day goes by that Geoff and I don’t take that very seriously. It literally keeps us up at night. But so much of the future of these contracts is out of our hands, as turnover in Government personnel, business reorganization, and federal funding will all play a part. What can we control? Simply our performance on site. Is it scary that we could receive a 100 percent award fee and still not receive an extension? Absolutely. But this is what we signed up for as business owners, and this is the hand we will play. We can only hope that we will flop an Ace and a King.

Apart from our Prime contracts, industry is facing many challenges. Award fee pools are being cut, contracts are being consolidated, escalation of rates has been eliminated, and training budgets have been decimated. For some reason, no one explained this to our vendors, as their prices continue to escalate. So what can we do? I suppose we could hold our cards, and hope the 2015 dealer busts. But the book will tell you, it’s better to play your hand and give yourself a shot, as opposed to hoping someone else wins or loses on your behalf. We will continue to build the infrastructure of our company. To me, that means participating on as many proposals as possible, no matter the win probability. It means getting creative with training. integrateIT will implement various Communities of Practice, where our staff will teach one another industry best practices. We will save money wherever possible, so that in the event a contract is lost, we can support our staff for as long as possible.

I am a big fan of cliches and quotes. I’m a bigger fan of plagiarizing them and claiming them as my own. My current favorite quote is courtesy of Henry Ford, who surprisingly wasn’t a professional wrestler or a lead singer of a rock band. “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” For 2015, I think we can do anything. And if we can’t? It isn’t because I didn’t believe we could.