In an interview with Mike Fauscette, group vice president, Software Business Solutions, Deltek asked a variety of questions about the use of cloud for government contractors including: cloud advantages for government contractors, what types of contractors are a good fit for cloud solutions, what government contractors should look for in cloud providers and more. You can download the full article here. See below for key details about cloud-based project life-cycle management.
Q. What types of mission-critical business management solutions do today’s government contractors need to be successful, and why?
A. Many contractors are small and midsize businesses that face a variety of challenges. They need a full life cycle of solutions that span the front office, the back office, and everything in between, including project and program management capabilities that will help them win bids and successfully manage the projects that they have won.
In addition, government contractors have special reporting requirements in the area of compliance and documentation that commercial suppliers don’t need to contend with. These contractors also need the ability to manage and get granular visibility into each step of the project life-cycle process so that corrective actions can be taken when things go off track. When companies utilize an integrated solution for managing the project life cycle, all of these aspects work together to drive compliance, deliver projects on time and on budget, streamline financial management processes, win more business, and help contractors stay ahead of the competition in a very competitive market.
Q. What are cloud-based solutions, and how are they advantageous for government contractors?
A. When you’re talking about cloud, you’re talking about a system that sits in an environment that’s available across the Internet. In a cloud environment, a software product is available as a service rather than purchased as an application. With that SaaS approach, government contractors can avoid hiring new resources and buying new infrastructure such as servers and databases that they would have to support and maintain themselves. The business pays a subscription price to the SaaS provider, which includes access to best-in-class applications that are delivered over the Web and managed by a dedicated cloud operational and technical team.
Leveraging the cloud has a number of benefits for government contractors. It relieves them from worrying about all the resource and infrastructure requirements needed if they were maintaining the system on their own, which means significantly less operational complexity. It also changes the type of budget needed. Rather than spending from the capital budget, contractors are basically leasing what they need and paying on a per-user or per-transaction basis, depending on the provider. They get access to world-class quality software with minimal capital investment, and because upgrades are automatic, the latest features are always available. In addition, SaaS allows them to operate using the same best-in-class capabilities used by larger contractors, providing the tools they need to accelerate growth and compete more effectively with their largest competitors.
Q. What types of contractors are a great fit for cloud-based business management solutions?
A. Any contractor obviously wants to minimize the amount of IT and other non-revenue-generating resources and keep costs in check. But cloud services are an especially great fit for companies that need to focus on their core expertise and competency. A small or midsize contractor tends to be highly focused, and its expertise is not necessarily managing an IT infrastructure but delivering a particular contract service to the government through an extended project cycle and on budget. Getting high-quality tools and at the same time saving financial and staff resources that can now be applied to your core business makes good sense.
In addition, the quality of the tools is maintained because SaaS offers rapid innovation and upgrades versus an on-premise model, which has a much longer upgrade cycle, perhaps even as much as 18 months as opposed to 4–6 months. So it gives contractors a real opportunity to evolve their business with a solution that incorporates these best upgrade practices.
Q. What should government contractors look for in a cloud services provider?
A. It’s really important to look at several areas. First of all, it’s worth remembering that this is a partnership and an important one at that. It’s a continuous service relationship with a provider that’s somewhat different in nature than the relationship a company might have with an on-premise vendor. The goal is to pick a partner that’s trusted, experienced, and financially stable and that will be a long-term player in the market.
Another important area to look at is whether the cloud vendor understands the contractor’s business model. In this type of situation, going with a vendor that offers deep vertical expertise is crucial. The SaaS provider should really understand the complexities of the government contracting space.
In addition, make sure that the vendor has built a cloud infrastructure that can provide high levels of security and availability, with SSAE 16 Type II audits and external penetration testing performed at least annually.
Q. What are best practices for moving from an existing system to a cloud solution?
A. The contractor needs to go into a SaaS implementation the same way any other IT project might be tackled. There needs to be good planning up front, which includes careful definition and understanding of business needs and goals in the context of what’s needed from the applications involved. It’s important to have the right people, with expertise across different business units, involved in helping to configure the system. Also important is a good training and change management program.
Contractors are well advised not to try and convert all their legacy data for the cloud environment by figuring out the smallest amount of conversion needed to get the job done. It is also important to have executive commitment and the right sponsors and support within the company.
Download the full whitepaper here. Brittenford Systems understand the unique needs of Government Contractors. Visit our government contracting page for more information, or visit the additional resources below.