Washington, DC saw record levels of snow in February 2010. The federal government was closed for four days. These two events on their own are daunting situations. Combined, they wreak havoc on government contractors. Kudos to the D2DInc staff for really working together to ensure deadlines were met and projects and proposals continued forward. We have no idea what type of winter we’ll see this year, but we’re offering suggestions on how to prepare now. Even if you live in a warm climate, your proposal delivery may be affected by the weather in another region.
D2DInc was extremely prepared for the back-to-back 2010 blizzards. Once we knew that a big storm was brewing, we started making contingency plans early so work could continue. We discussed approaches to address power loss and other potential problems/challenges. We asked our staff keep their laptops and mobile phones charged. We established clear lines of communication so staff would know who to contact with questions and for updates. Management continuously monitored the news for information regarding the weather and clean-up operations, the government’s status (open or closed for the following business day), had regular calls/emails to stay up-to-date on projects with deliverables during this period. We monitored FedBizOpps to determine if any modifications were released on solicitations or if new RFPs were released so we could adjust plans as needed. We also developed alternate suggestions for proposal production in case access to our office was not possible or if we lost power. We even recommended to a client to consider getting a hotel room near the agency to ensure on-time delivery should the government be open, but the roads too dangerous to drive. As a result of this advance planning, D2DInc operations continued even while the government and other businesses were closed.
We want to pass on information that we believe is helpful not only in inclement weather, but are just good practices.
- Continuously monitor information sites so you’re aware of updates and statuses that affect your proposal and/or contracts. The government may have a “no work, no pay” clause on your contract(s). Make sure you know the policy and make sure your corporate policy accurately reflects what your policy is/should be.
- Back-up, back-up, back-up! Make sure that you have backed-up copies of key information and proposal files on external sources such as an external drive or an off-site location. It’s important to ensure your data is encrypted and/or password protected. Make sure that copies of information you need to keep your business running are accessible. For instance, we use an online timekeeping system and have access to our accounting application so processing payroll during these historic storms wasn’t a problem.
- If you exclusively use desktop computers, consider purchasing one or more laptops so work can continue in the event that your office cannot be accessed, power goes out, or work needs to happen/continue off-site. All D2DInc staff have in the commercial division has a laptop so they can work remotely during inclement weather. They also have a PDA that has access to email and the Internet. We are definitely well connected, with redundancy of communications equipment in the event a laptop isn’t available or doesn’t have Internet access.
- Consider using a site such as Basecamp to share documents and create a repository for a proposal project. This is a good way to keep working after hours, work with staff and teaming partners at various locations, and keeps documents related to a proposal/project in one location. We love that documents can be accessed remotely and securely. We also use GoToMeeting for tel-/web-conferencing.
- Have multiple back-up plans. The time to make a back-up plan before there is a hint that one may be needed. If you wait you may not have time to react. In the case of the February blizzards we already had in place had multiple back-up plans to address things like power loss at the office or staff residences, main and/or secondary roads not being plowed, above-ground Metro stations not being opened, traffic, etc.
Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information on contingency planning during the business development, proposal process and contract administration phases of government contracting.