In today’s environment of tightened budgets, heightened partisanship, and increased scrutiny, agency contract selections are under more pressure than ever. Fewer dollars means that the wrong choice or false start can come at the cost of an entire project. Agencies need a partner that is committed to ensuring sustainable, lasting value in time, effort, and money.

While there are structures in place to evaluate proposed solutions, checking off boxes doesn’t guarantee valuable outcomes for your agency. A “technically acceptable” company might meet all of the requirements. However, a trusted partner will, in addition to being technically compliant:

  • Customize a solution to fit specific agency needs;
  • Anticipate challenges;
  • Take a holistic approach to solving problems;
  • Demonstrate a willingness to question assumptions and dig deeper for lasting results;
  • Provide objective, unbiased counsel ground in facts; and
  • Leave the client with processes and tools for continued success after contract is closed.

COE is committed to establishing a true partnership relationship with each and every client. Our 30 years of federal experience not only demonstrates our knowledge and expertise but also our commitment to delivering excellent services for an improved government and nation. We are genuinely enthusiastic about helping your organization achieve its desired goals, results, and mission.

Consider these guidelines when selecting a consulting firm:

The solution they propose…

  • Is complete, accurate, and robust.
  • Has a cost that provides value for the work they will perform and the results that will be achieved.
  • Provides alternatives in consideration of balancing time, quality, cost, and required results as necessary.
  • Addresses the needs of all stakeholders.
  • Is not “canned” but proven and tailored to your needs.
  • Results in the “best value” for your organization.

Their history of performance…

  • Represents engagements that are similar in size, scope, and challenge to your project.
  • Demonstrates a history of effective performance.
  • Shows they delivered what was promised.
  • Solved the problem.
  • Demonstrates they worked around unique or unusual requirements.
  • Demonstrates they were protective of confidential information with past clients.
  • Shows they respectfully discussed past clients.
  • Shows no inherent conflict of interest.
  • Shows that recommendations and solutions were a practical fit for the organization.

Their qualifications to perform…

  • Demonstrates experience in the type of problem your trying to solve.
  • Are broader than the situation as defined.
  • Are supported by effective tools and methods which will result in an effective and meaningful outcome.
  • Propose more than one method of data collection.
  • Shows sufficient resources to perform this project.
  • Shows they are willing to question assumptions and the validity of data to ensure success.

Their approach to successful management…

  • Shows a history of completing engagements on time and within budget.
  • Has an effective approach for interacting with you and reporting on their progress.
  • Enables them to address unexpected events.
  • Identifies potential risks and has a clear mitigation plan.
  • Has an effective method for open and clear communications.
  • Shows an effective project governance structure.
  • Includes engaging with your senior leaders in an effective and meaningful way.
  • Demonstrates a willingness to tell you things you may not want to hear.
  • Includes you and your responsibilities to ensure project success.
  • Shows agreement on what is important and the overall measures of success.

I believe we will have a relationship…

  • That will provide you with objective and unbiased advice and direction.
  • That will develop into a trusting relationship.
  • Which shows they are willing to deliver less than good news (and you are willing to receive it).
  • Where they appear genuinely enthusiastic about helping your organization.
  • Where they will help your staff be more experienced when they are done.

Their focus on me…

  • Shows they understand your goals and objectives and ask about them if they are not articulated well.
  • Shows they understand the context of your organization – critical deadlines, political imperatives, etc.
  • Asks questions and seeks data that will help them know your organization, the problem, and you before proposing a solution.
  • Helps you think and clarify your situation.
  • Demonstrates their willingness to question your own assumptions or data.

Tools I can use to address the areas above…

  • Pre-proposal discussions
  • Proposal reviews
  • Oral presentations and discussions
  • Operational capability demonstration
  • Reference checks
  • Situational questioning
  • Inviting them to ask questions of you
  • Reviewing deliverables and samples (if there is no breach of confidentiality)
  • Discussing past performance in-depth
  • Reviewing websites/searching the net
  • Meeting with actual key personnel from the firm