How Government Contractors Association Helps Small Businesses Compete
Government Contractors Association has a mission to help small businesses tap into the enormous revenue opportunities of government contracts. The organization needed a tool that could manage, organize, and deliver its curriculum, and Smartsheet proved to be the ideal solution.
"When I found Smartsheet, I knew I was onto something. I immediately saw how easy it would be to organize my training curriculum in a single sheet. Our association is all about making a complicated process easier, Smartsheet is the tool that fits with that mission."
Small businesses represent 99.7% of all businesses in the U.S., yet they account for less than 22% of all government contracts. The numbers are even smaller for women and minority-owned businesses.
Government Contractors Association (GCA) is out to change that. The association wants to level the playing field for small businesses, helping them to get a piece of the enormous revenue opportunities associated with government contracts. “$500 billion to be exact,” says Abraham Xiong, President of GCA.
“There are many programs set aside to help small businesses. But if the owners don’t know that the contracts are there – or how to compete for them – they won’t get the money,” Xiong says. “So that’s the challenge I’m solving.”
To get started, Xiong needed to develop his curriculum and find a tool to manage and share the content with businesses. “I had to find a way to take all of this information, organize it, and then make it available to the small business community so that they can better participate in this program and take their share of government funds,” says Xiong.
Finding the Right Tool
Xiong experimented with a number of different tools from project management solutions like Basecamp to training module platforms like Mindflash, in the search for the right software to use with his clients.
“When I found Smartsheet, I knew I was onto something,” he says. “I immediately saw how easy it would be to organize my training curriculum in a single sheet. The spreadsheet look-and-feel gave me confidence that I could use it with any client and trust that they could easily access the training curriculum without any challenges.”
As Xiong explored Smartsheet, he discovered it was powerful yet easy to adopt. “I realized I could use Smartsheet to do more than just organize my curriculum,” he says. “Now I track my client’s progress with the training and automatically calculate percent complete, create hierarchy, and more. The fact that Smartsheet could not only help me build out the curriculum but also help me manage my clients during their training process, blew me away.”
Saving this core curriculum sheet as a template gives Xiong and his team the flexibility and confidence to duplicate and distribute the program, “The Government Contracting Fast Track Curriculum,” to all clients quickly and securely.
Essential Information Stored in Smartsheet
After two and a half years of researching, writing, and compiling his curriculum for small businesses, Xiong was able to easily compile his training plan into Smartsheet using these features:
Hierarchy to Detail Training Phases
Xiong indents columns to help keep his detailed curriculum organized and manageable for his clients to digest. “There are five phases to the training process that businesses need to go through to be profitable in the government market,” he says.
Each of those five phases has its own detailed list, indented and organized in Smartsheet, so clients can drill down to the tiniest detail or look at the entire picture as they progress through each phase.
Staying Organized With Attachments
Over 100 documents are attached to Xiong’s training plan for small businesses, ranging from Word documents with business plan templates to Powerpoint slides to use during presentations.
“I take my clients step-by-step through a very practical approach to government contracting, and Smartsheet is the blueprint for it all. The ability to attach any kind of file to a row keeps the process organized and also fits the needs of businesses at different stages of growth,” he explains.
Resource Hyperlinks for Direct Access
“During the 12 months of this training plan, there are a number of certifications that companies need to apply for. Hyperlinks make it easy to direct clients straight to the webpage that they need to apply for an EIN number with the IRS,” says Xiong.
“There are so many minuscule details like this that a small business owner needs to keep track of, that having it all organized in one, online tool saves my clients vital time.”
Symbol Columns to Track Progress
Xiong uses a variety of Smartsheet symbol columns in his curriculum: Red-Yellow-Green balls, checkbox columns, and date pickers are perfect for clients to dynamically track training tasks, flag priority, and indicate phase completion as they move through the training program.
Visualize Progress With Gantt Charts
Visual timelines make it easy for clients (and Xiong) to see how much progress has been made with each phase towards completion, and the steps that lie ahead.
“There’s almost no end to the benefit of keeping our curriculum compiled in Smartsheet. It keeps my clients organized so that they are able to apply for government contracts in one year, rather than three,” says Xiong.
“More than that, it also teaches them the basics of project management and introduces a tool and method of tracking work that they can use in all areas of their business.”