If you have a technology with a proven capability for enterprises you have probably already started thinking about how you should work with the big systems integrators that serve the federal market. You probably feel in your gut that partnering with them is the way to go. They absolutely need to be part of your strategy. But there are key considerations. The following is my short list of topics we advise any startup firm think about regarding working with federal systems integrators:
Top Ten Considerations For Dealing With Federal Systems Integrators
- Every systems integrator has their own personality and culture. All want to serve and win more business, but they have very different approaches. This may play into which integrator has a bigger interest in your capability. So learn the culture of the SI’s before you formulate your engagement strategy.
- The big integrators are everywhere and have an ability to leverage that to spread word of your capability, if they believe it is in their interest to do so. This is a strong point of working with them. Make it known in your discussions that you want this to be part of the relationship.
- The big integrators also invest time and energy in learning government mission needs. They can be a great source of this info. Building a strong relationship can keep you in the loop on what the government needs.
- The big integrators want to partner with small innovative tech firms to help them win the attention of government thought leaders and more importantly to win procurements. So track the big procurements and figure out how you can help the big guys win.
- The smaller integrators, including some very small “boutique” integrators, can be very agile and when you find the right ones with the right respect for your technology you should do everything possible to further the relationship. Be very good to them.
- On some contracts, you may be required to commit to only interact with the government via the prime contractor. That is just the way things are. But that will not stop you from all interactions with the government. Ensure you devote the right amount of time building personal relationships with government thought leaders, this is important and is a big hedge against the integrator that may seek to shut you out.
- At one time or another we have seen senior engineers at every big systems integrator whisper in the ear of a government engineer that they can write better software than the small upstart tech firm. This can happen to you. No matter what you do, one day you could have an integrator telling the government they should not use you. To prevent this, be sure you have paid attention to item 6 above.
- Remember, big integrators can also be customers. They all have infrastructure that needs protecting, devices that need managing, HR departments that need automation, finance departments that need optimizing etc etc. Don’t be timid about asking your contacts at the integrators to introduce you to the people who buy for their internal infrastructure.
- When you see the big integrators at a trade show, keep in mind that the people manning their booths may very well be program managers and engineers and/or subject matter experts that can help you build a relationship with that firm. So use those opportunities to build your networks.
- Most program managers and engineers from the big integrators are in LinkedIn. Many gather at our group on LinkedIn called CTOvision Forum. Join that group and network there.
The time will come when you will need some focused help in growing in the federal space and when you do I hope you will have a discussion with us. We will gladly give you a free consultation to help you assess if the federal market is one you should consider and of course the role of the federal systems integrators in helping you achieve your goals.
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