Why You Should Discuss GSA Consulting Before Managing the Process In-House
GSA Schedule | 5 Min Read
If you’ve made the decision to pursue a GSA Schedule contract, one of the first choices you will need to make is whether to go it alone or hire a GSA consultant to help. At first, your instinct might be to save money and handle it internally because you may have a sales or marketing team that deals with your commercial sales. If your company has an individual in mind with government experience and plans to dedicate a significant portion of their time to your GSA Schedule, your instinct may be right. However, it's important to remember that the government marketplace is a whole new ballgame. With regulations, a minimum sales quota, and a myriad of other rules and processes, it can be difficult to navigate.
As GSA consultants, we understand how much work it takes to acquire and maintain a GSA Schedule contract, but we also realize that a few companies are equipped to handle it all on their own. So, we put together this blog so you can make the best decision for your company and the success of your contract.
Questions to Ask Your Team Before Getting a GSA Schedule
Before you start preparing your GSA Schedule proposal, you should ask yourself the following questions to help you evaluate whether your company has the bandwidth and knowledge to pursue a GSA Schedule:
- Do I know what Special Item Number (SIN) and Large Category I want to pursue?
- Do I know the specific requirements that go with each SIN and Large Category?
- Do I know what documents and information are required to get a GSA Schedule?
- Do I really understand the terms and conditions of a GSA contract?
- Once the Schedule is awarded, do I know how what responsibilities I have as a contractor including sales reporting, modifications, and Contractor Assessments?
If your team is unable to clearly answer all these questions, you'll need to put a plan together for how you will handle getting your GSA Schedule and how you will manage the contract once its awarded. This is easier said than done--if you are struggling with this, it's a sign that your company will need some help.
Can My Current Team Handle a GSA Schedule?
Your current team probably consists of experts in selling your products and services, with extensive experience and contacts in your industry, so they can handle a GSA Multiple Award Schedule, right? Not so fast.
Your team may be experts in your industry, but acquiring a GSA Schedule contract is a unique process where their expertise does not necessarily apply. Even once you get your contract awarded, maintaining your contract and marketing it to government customers can suck up a lot of time and resources.
Preparing a GSA Schedule offer is a time consuming project that will take your team away from their primary responsibilities, and it will take even longer if they are having to learn on the fly. Additionally, a GSA offer package put together by a beginner is more likely to encounter issues that slow down the award process, or even worse, be rejected outright.
Having your offer rejected means you cannot apply again for a year. Even if the contract does get awarded, you may not have gotten the best deal with pricing or your terms and conditions, and you could encounter issues down the line that prevent you from maximizing your GSA contract. It’s best to avoid the risk, and keep your team focused on their primary tasks by considering hiring a GSA consultant.
Should I Just Expand my Team?
Now that we've painted a picture of the difficulties firms face in trying to acquire a GSA Schedule contract without the assistance of an expert, you may be wondering if it’s better to simply hire a GSA expert and add them to your existing team.
While there are some situations where this may be appropriate, most contractors will never need to alter their contract enough to justify dedicating a full-time position to it. It's typically more economical to keep a GSA consultant on retainer to help you get a GSA Schedule, and assist you when you need to alter or renew your contract.
GSA contract experts also don’t grow on trees, so adding a full time expert to your team is unlikely to be either quick or cheap. An advantage of hiring a consultant is that you will have a whole team of experts at your disposal, with experience working with every product and service under the sun, as well as established relationships with many of the Contracting Officers at GSA.
What About the Cost of Hiring a Consultant?
We won't sugar coat it, GSA consulting services aren't always the cheapest route initially, but they'll most likely save you money and time in the long run. If your GSA Schedule proposal gets rejected, or your awarded Schedule gets cancelled for neglect, you could be missing out on contracting opportunities and lose valuable time trying to get your Schedule back.
However, if you choose to engage a consulting firm for acquiring your GSA Schedule, be wary of any offers or prices that seem too good to be true. We understand your company may be on a tight budget and cheaper seems better, but not all GSA consultants are equal. This is a service where you get what you pay for, so make sure your consultants have experience, real references, and a well-documented process in place.
You can also think of hiring a GSA consultant as a long-term investment. Once you’ve acquired your GSA Schedule contract and have access to the $39 billion that flows through the GSA MAS program each year, you can more than recoup the costs of Schedule acquisition and maintenance.
If you want to learn more about the cost of consulting for acquisition and maintenance, check out our blogs, "How Much Does GSA Schedule Consulting Cost," and "How Much Does GSA Schedule Maintenance Cost?"
Tips for Hiring a GSA Schedule Consultant
It's best to hire a GSA consultant at the beginning of the process -- don’t wait until you’re a few weeks in and realize you need help. The consultant will take time to get up to speed, and you may discover you’ve made mistakes and need to redo something, or that you’ve done unnecessary work, costing you time and money. GSA consultants can help you get your Schedule contract with a minimum amount of time and cost by leveraging their experience and subject matter expertise.
At the end of the day, GSA consulting should be part of the conversation when considering managing the Schedule acquisition process in-house. You'll need to weigh the pros and cons of each option, and we can help you determine if it's right for your business. If you want to learn more about GSA consulting, you can check out our blogs, "Should You Hire a GSA Schedule Consultant," and "Four Reasons to Invest in Public Sector Consulting."
About Stephanie Hagan
Stephanie Hagan is the Content Writer and Digital Editor for Winvale where she helps the marketing department continue to develop and distribute GSA and government contracting content. Stephanie grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and earned her Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism and Rhetoric/Communications from the University of Richmond.