David Ryan is vice president of business development for Northrop Grumman's Information Systems sector. Here's his take on today's business development environment for government contractors:
ExecutiveBiz: You've been credited with a focus on improving quality, productivity and program performance. What daily steps help you ensure that standard?
David Ryan: Overall the most important thing we need to do “” and that we work on everyday “” is put ourselves in our customers' shoes and see things through their eyes. The more we can do that, the more we have sensitivity to the impact of not delivering the highest quality. Everyday we put that mindset in front of everything else to make sure that we are doing the right things for our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: What tactics and procedures help you gather business intelligence?
David Ryan: Like most in this industry, we pride ourselves on doing the right kind of due diligence so we understand our customer environment and also understand the competitive environment. We're sensitive to the fact that on one procurement we may be competing against a set of companies and on the next we may be partnered with them. The key is to continue to build relationships not only with our customers but with our peers in the industry.
ExecutiveBiz: How is the insourcing discussion affecting your business development efforts?
David Ryan: We're working closely with our government customers to help them in every way we can. We do anticipate that as our government customers work through issues like insourcing they'll have to balance how much activities they can do internally and how much they'll still rely on contractors. We have decades of experience working with our government customers in this regard and it takes a long time to rebuild that kind of experience. Our robust set of solutions are also in the sweet spot of what our customers need and we will continue to adapt to meet these ever-changing requirements.
ExecutiveBiz: What markets, if any, will you be pursuing more than others?
David Ryan: Generally speaking, Northrop Grumman Information Systems has been well-positioned to continue after our current markets. I do not see us changing our strategy very much at all based on some of the latest trends and issues our government customers are working through. Having said that, we do have to be adaptable and agile; we work hard to keep our ear to the rail and know when we need to change.
ExecutiveBiz: How are you still finding room for risk and innovation in this economy?
David Ryan: There is always room for innovation. Risk, meanwhile, is something that we have to manage; it depends on the mission and the customer. Risk comes in many forms - technical or management, for example. It can also be the risk of having too elegant a solution when really a 75 percent solution is what the customer needs. It's important when dealing with each pursuit and initiative to have a good, open conversation with our customers as to how we should handle those risks.
ExecutiveBiz: What's the most fulfilling part of your work?
David Ryan: Working with really excellent people in this sector. We have almost 34,000 people across almost every state in the United States and in many countries around the world. We strive to attract the best and the brightest available and we recognize that our people are the key to maintaining and growing our business. The breadth of what we do, the innovation, as well as our ability to work closely with our customers all strengthen the products and services we deliver. That's what's rewarding to me. The overall mission that we accomplish is extremely exciting.