Gary Harmon, executive vice president and general manager of Convergint Federal, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding how the company is advancing improvements into the contract bidding process for government contractors as well as how industry and the government can improve greater collaboration and innovative solutions during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full interview with Gary Harmon below.
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to the culture of Convergint Federal? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?
Gary Harmon: “Convergint Federal, like its parent Convergint, was founded on strong, service-focused values and beliefs that form its company culture. The pillars of this culture are our people. Convergint Federal values all our colleagues and respects what they bring to the organization.
Furthermore, we are equally committed to our customers and being their best service provider. That’s not always the easiest task but through empowerment and the guide of our values and beliefs, we stay on track with that objective.
Convergint Federal continuously strives to promote a supportive, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all colleagues. By leveraging diverse talent, we continue to sustain a culture where all colleagues are offered the opportunity for growth.
Our culture contains elements such as communication, collaboration, inspiration, and innovation. Our expert colleagues are empowered to drive results, which in turn makes it easier for decision-makers to choose Convergint Federal as their service provider.
Everyone in Convergint Federal has a specific equally important part to play that is vital to our mission. To sum it up, it’s our people that win the work. It’s our people that execute the work. It’s also our people who make it an honor and a joy for me to do what I do every day.”
ExecutiveBiz: How can industry and the federal government work together to increase greater collaboration and drive more innovative solutions for everyone to use to address the latest challenges of today?
Gary Harmon: “Currently, it seems that the government forces contractors to continuously build a box around acquisition responses to be the lowest bid. This creates less of a partnership and more of an adverse environment.
We should start with a reset of our minds. I’d think having a stronger alliance between the federal government and industry would open the door for more creativity and collaboration. Each party may even find themselves with better bandwidth from working closely together instead of separately.
As most of us know, innovation is extremely vital to the U.S. economy. However, innovation cannot happen without collaboration. One example is there are many subject areas causing disruption in the security industry like cloud storage, big data, and cyber-hygiene.
These types of innovations can become commercial products and services that create jobs. Doing so will be a game changer for the security industry in this country. The federal government has a central role in funding basic research and aligning it with the need, whereas industry has a responsibility for delivering on the federal government’s investment.
From the standpoint of the federal government, they could increase investment in basic research. They could work closer with industry leaders to truly get the best value out of their acquisitions. The federal government used to enroll outside consultants to help them determine the correct specifications to be coupled with the RFPs and RFQs.
Now, it seems that they reach out to the industry directly through RFIs and try to decipher all the elements themselves. This may save the government some money. However, in the long run, it has created more issues in the last several years.
This has become even more evident during these past pandemic years. When the government makes investments that generate new trades, services, and products, those become some of the most frugal uses of our tax dollars.
From the industry’s perspective, things could also be done like taking more risks and investing in early-stage funds. One example of this are private funds or partnerships between public and private with a goal of investing in new technological start-ups.
Another idea for better collaboration between industry and the federal government is for industry to give back more of its bandwidth. Industry leaders could align together to form task forces and/or advisory boards to the federal government for different topics and industries.
There could be more alliances with consortia memberships as well. When done well, consortia can nurture focused commitment between industry and government. This could help keep the government advised on their needs. Furthermore, it creates collaboration between researchers and industry.
Organizations that want to be better prepared for new emerging markets will expand their working relations with researchers. Therefore, companies and researchers will both have a working understanding with the needs of each other and the federal government.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the most significant ways that your organization is working to advance its contract bidding offerings and processes in order to drive company growth and establish yourself as a big player in the GovCon sector?
Gary Harmon: “There are many factors in which Convergint Federal considers when trying to secure new awards. It can be a never-ending opportunity for growth. Some of these factors could entail various experiences on past projects while others demand certain credentials and certifications.
Sometimes, contractors are asked to include a sample of their work to ensure that they can perform the tasks at hand. Then there are others with nearly impossible periods of performance to adhere to. Before Convergint Federal decides to bid on any project, we consider if the bidding process is worth the trouble of the job. We ask ourselves if we can truly perform as we state in our proposals.
Most of the time the answer is, ‘Yes.’ However, sometimes the risk hidden within the opportunity can cause doubt. Therefore, we put each opportunity through a series of analyses.
As an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, Convergint Federal believes in continuous improvement and realistic processes. To help us with this, we have developed workflow tools that assist us in the day-to-day capture and automation of our work-in-progress processes.
This is a living tool that is continuously being scrutinized and improved upon. However, it works. Furthermore, it is also our people who collaborate on the creation of our tools. This makes their jobs easier and allows for better work-life balance.
Aside from our tools, we hire the right people. As mentioned before, it is our people who make or break us. I like to build our teams together like a grand puzzle. Each person fits in their spot just perfectly. As an example, when interviewing for a capture manager, I discovered a diamond in the rough.
This colleague’s true passion was analytics and data mining, not really business development and capture. I saw huge potential in having a dedicated team for that, therefore, I gambled and created a business development analytics team. It has since paid off by bringing us tons of useful information leading to many awards.
Basically, our recipe of success in becoming a big player in the GovCon sector is we start with our main ingredient, which is our people. Then we add a dash of the right tools coupled with a pinch of analytics and prepositioning. To top it all off, we add in our uniqueness and our creativity.
Lastly, we sprinkle our culture on top. This all makes for an award-winning dish and a successful strategy that works most of the time.”