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Monday, April 09, 2007

Selling to the government (part 1 of many..., over time)

If you have any experience in the business, you'll know that bidding on government jobs is far more than completing some forms, and hitting 'send' on your computer. First, you have to know what forms you must complete -- even obscure slip-ups can cost you the opportunity. Then you must face the reality that decisions in the public sector are made for subjective reasons, often, and personal relationships with existing vendors count for much -- if not in some cases, all -- of the decision-making scheme. The very things intended to ensure fairness, openness and transparency are used to stack the deck in favour of favored or 'wired' organizations.

Naive writers often take the easy road and write about the standard rules. They'll cite material from documents like this that purports to tell readers "How to start a construction business in Ontario" (Canada).

In truth, selling to the government is like the headline of this article. It isn't a simple, nor is it a rapid, process, at least until you know which strings to pull (and which elements to avoid). If, for example, you are an experienced estimator who has worked in the government milieu for years and want to start out --or you are in a remote place and there are few competitors around you -- of course things may be easier. Otherwise, over the next few months, in entries that will not follow a neat sequential order (though you had better follow the right 'sequence' in preparing your proposals to government), I'll share with you some insights into what works, and what doesn't, most of the time. It will be a challenging story.

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