“When you win a government RFP, you have to underwrite it. You have to deliver whether you’re losing money or making money — and it’s quite different from the private sector in that respect,” Joshua Gould told the audience at SlatorCon Remote September 2021.
As CEO of thebigword — Leeds-based language service provider (LSP) and supplier to the UK government (e.g., their big Ministry of Justice (MoJ) contract was just extended in February) — Gould was able to share proven strategies for bidding, landing, organizing, and delivering public sector contracts.
In a nutshell, winning and successfully delivering government contracts is all about building the right teams; from business dev to bid design to implementation. This was evident as Gould took the audience through the capture process, prebid, bid and award, and roll out.
Sometimes these teams even extend to supply chain partnerships. He cited the case of Global Language Services (GLS), with which thebigword (TBW) partnered to serve Scotland. TBW did not have enough volume in the region to keep its linguists busy, but GLS did.
“When we work together, we can expand our territories. We can leverage our time zones. We can grow an experience and drive pricing and cost efficiencies — which is good for our clients, huge for our industries, and great for ourselves,” Gould said.
He admitted that while public sector work can be a daunting affair, not for the faint-hearted, there are several benefits to pursuing it. First of all, there is a lot of it.
In the EU alone, more than 1,900 contracts were awarded in 2020, Gould said. And while the average contract value was in the USD 0.35m range, he considered the amount very small compared to what big LSPs working with government usually land.
Moreover, opportunities are not that hard to find. “The great news is that all of these contracts are advertised publicly. So you don’t need that telemarketing, bullpen-style team to go and find them,” he pointed out.
And then there is the R&D aspect. According to thebigword CEO, “Public sector and government drive innovation and, ultimately, improve standards in our industry.”
He added, “We work with some of the world’s largest private sector companies. We find the public sector is on par and in many cases ahead of them in terms of technology and willingness to be early adopters.”
Gould cited the sophistication of data, reporting, and analyses coming out of TBW’s largest clients (i.e., MoJ, Crown Commercial Service), which rival that of their biggest investors; most notably Susquehanna Private Capital (to which the LSP sold a majority stake in August).
Watch “Four Decades Working With Governments: Lessons for the Language Industry” with Joshua Gould and the full SlatorCon Remote September 2021 event on demand, here.