GSA Modernization Efforts

The motif of modernization has been a pervasive goal of the federal government in the past decade. The onset of the internet allowed for easier access to contract opportunities and better business. Part of this modernization includes updating contract writing systems and acquisition portals. In the past few years the Navy and Army have both taken massive steps (and expensive contracts) to help modernize their ability to find contractors ready and willing to fulfill their requirements. It was only a matter of time before GSA had its turn to do the same.

This has been a goal of this particular agency since 2016, and in the interim since, these new steps and requirements have been part of a more all-encompassing modernization strategy that they are taking. The new contract writing system is still being worked out, but Crystal Philcox, the assistant commissioner for Enterprise Strategy Management at FAS said that once they can figure out the scope of the new system, they can then work out many of the details. GSA is also looking towards examples of a successful roll out from the Army, as a model of what kind of system they are looking to create.

Another component of this new modernization strategy is the updating of GSA Advantage. FAS is developing a new catalog system so that agency customers can see what contracts are available, and what kind of requirements they are looking for. The main goal is also to be able to look at similar products and be able to compare them with the data compiled. Streamlining this process helps to make sure that only the most suitable product is considered, and that the process of choosing can be faster and more efficient.

Finally, updates to current GSA acquisition infrastructure is in order to further modernize the agency in the business of contracting. Making E-buy more secure and user friendly is at the centerpiece of this mission. Managing these changes is the FAS systems governance committee, which is reviewing all investments that GSA is considering. In doing this, they are looking at each contract awardee and working with them more personally in order to ensure that people are communicating and that the Agency is getting the most value per dollar spent.


The Expanding Pallet of Technology Services in Business.

Technology is changing the daily operations and processes of businesses, and that is no secret, but perhaps the different philosophies and uses of technology in business is important to understand and may not be universal knowledge. Technology has made business faster, more competitive, and more cost-effective, yet it also has some negative effects. Data management and security is an example of how to prevent these negative aspects from coming into play.

The first major area of concern when discussing the potential benefits of technology is developing a more productive workplace. For example, tools exist that can help manage productivity and track progress in a given timeframe. Perhaps, more importantly, it can be used to see where time is spent, and how to mitigate either wasted time or excess time being spent in certain areas of work. On the same token, businesses can use project management tools in order to help organize tasks and prioritize tasks in order to help facilitate further productivity. Finally, managing emails and files and organizing these two processes is a simple solution that can potentially develop into saved time and a more efficient workspace. Administrative and logistical problems can hamper someone’s ability to do things efficiently and therefore should be managed in a way to save time in these areas.

Technology can also help manage the financial aspect of business by making it simpler, more efficient, and more cost effective. A good example of this is using online invoicing services, tax filing services, or budget tracking. Each of these is cost-effective, and more efficient, ways to deal with finances. Often this category of business can seem time-consuming and often beleaguers employees with pages and pages of documents. Using online services can help in this regard by making the process faster and with better results.

Marketing is a third great example of an area that can be made more effective through the proper uses of technology. Marketing plans can be created using software to better map out plans for the future, and social media, if used properly, can be a very effective tool in marketing to new customers. Recently, many big businesses have taken to sites such as twitter, to reach a younger demographic. Additionally, their ability to personalize a twitter for a multi-million dollar business has proven very effective in getting new revenue. Actively using a website can also effectively market your services or products as that too can show that your business is engaged with customers. An example of this engagement could be a blog that is updated weekly, to show that the community you are in is both human, and engaging.

In any team-oriented business, those teams need to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively. Teleconference calls, and video conference calls (or webinars) can be used to create a more closely-knit community through more face time or talking time between employees who may be at different offices. Online business training initiatives can also go a long way in educating your employees and making them more knowledgeable of the market and the business. Finally, cloud services, or a secure intranet, can be used to make sure everyone has access to the same files, thereby eliminating the problem of missing or accidentally deleted files.

Any viable business needs to have customer service to troubleshoot problems, and help customers come to solutions. Large businesses have taken to social media to help with customer service. By messaging someone on Twitter or Facebook, people can easily get in contact with any business. Additionally, customer service appointments can be made online and that can make it easier for people to come to your customer service representatives for help. Finally, online surveys have been increasingly used recently in order to get immediate customer feedback.

Using online and software services can help any business grow as they make processes more efficient and cost effective. Going paperless and using mobile office services can help save money on those supplies and can make information sharing faster. With the rise of the internet, businesses are on the dawn of a new industrial age, and the expanse of these practices will help thrust our economy into the future.



DoD investing in Small Business Contractors’ Data security

Technology is the new frontier of the 21st century, but only for those with the money and resources to afford the newest technological infrastructure. When technology expands like this, so do the problems associated with it. As we’ve seen in the past ten years, one of the main problems is security and keeping private and sensitive data out of the wrong hands.

When it comes to contracting, especially for the Department of Defense, these problems are at the forefront of every decision. For this reason, the DoD has begun investing in a secure cloud system that will help small and medium-sized contractors secure their information regarding the government.

The cloud would be a place for small contractors to store their data, rather than have them store it within their own systems, as a way for the government to ensure there is no way that the information could be misused. They specifically designate this for smaller contractors as not only do they make up a good amount of total DoD contracts, the larger contractors already have their own security systems in place, and therefore do not need to use this. The cloud would be designated as Government Furnished Equipment and would help them keep an eye on data from a vast majority of their contractors.

The introduction of this system comes as a response from companies requesting for more infrastructure like this, and greater information sharing in the Department of Defense. Companies with smaller security systems are expected to protect their own data, but they argue they cannot reasonably be expected to protect secure data from larger cyber attacks from nation states or terror cells.

The Department of Defense has now taken steps to alleviate this problem to make sure their highest volume of contractors is protected. Moreover, while details about individual attacks are classified, a recently released report from the Navy has made it clear that this is a large ongoing problem.





Boeing in Hot Water

The United States recently became the last country to ground the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. This decision comes after days of mounting pressure by the public and the government to investigate and evaluate the processes behind the aircraft, and why the two most recent crashes have been eerily similar in their causation.

This incident alone has resulting in Boeing going on the defensive with the public and the media. Their stock has dropped 11% and they have lost nearly $29 billion in market value. Such an economic hit is indicative of a need for sweeping process change within the company, both in terms of plane assembly and testing before they are used by companies. The issue is, many plane orders and contracts are usually old, and often take years to complete. However, many airlines, including Norwegian Airlines, are demanding compensation from Boeing for revenues lost due to the sudden grounding of those planes. The issue is becoming increasingly costly for Boeing, but its own mistakes are farther reaching than that.

Boeing is also a government contractor for the Air force, being that they are a top competitor in the airline industry. They, for example are the only company capable of constructing the 737 Max, but when it comes to military tankers, the story gets a bit more complicated. Following the two aforementioned crashes, the USAF had its confidence in Boeing shaken as their KC-46 tanker (plane used to refuel other jets) was found to be malfunctioning, and inspectors were finding Foreign Object Debris (FOD).

The USAF described the issue as part of an assembly line culture that that left assembly tools to be left in the tanker, after the order was delayed almost two years. Such a simple problem left officials worried as it pointed to a problem with the very mechanical processes the company uses. They knew of development issues that hampered the company over the past two years and correcting these issues could cost Boeing an additional $3 billion.

Customers and clients of the company seems to be angry at their losses due to grounded flights, the government has become wary of the company’s processes and may discontinue working with them, and the public’s perception of flying a Boeing aircraft is tainted by this incident. These perceptions (that this debacle has created) may not go away anytime soon, and the losses companies are taking as a result may not ever be repaid.



The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Business


Any business, much less any entrepreneur, needs emotional intelligence to survive today’s incredibly competitive and complex business environment. Emotional Intelligence defines itself as the ability to manage one’s own emotions, while at the same time managing the emotions of other people.

Reality reveals that everyone is prone to feeling complex and often confusing emotions, and how we deal with those is critical to the success of our business. Emotional Intelligence, referred to as “EQ”, is a crucial skill that many industry leaders look for today. Someone with high emotional intelligence is able to control their emotions while maintaining their own problem solving and critical thinking skills.

A more in-depth look at this phenomenon brings us to the ideas of Self-Awareness and Self-Management. Self-Awareness involves being aware of your own feelings and being able to identify how your emotions can (and often are) affecting coworkers and the people in your charge.  Often strong emotions can cloud our decision-making process, and the decisions we make in this state can affect everything that happens next, and sometimes can set a bad precedent. Emotionally Intelligent people identify these problems, and use Self-Management to be able to control them and react in ways that do not set the business back. For example, a high EQ individual, when faced with a serious setback, will look for ways to bounce back, even though they may be emotionally distraught and frustrated, rather than act get flustered in their anger and make a poor decision.

An important not to make about this is that Emotional Intelligence does not involve suppressing emotions, in fact it mostly means the opposite. For any high EQ individual, it is crucial to have a variety of emotions, and to be able to identify those emotions but not let them cloud your judgment. However, do not be afraid to show emotion and to allow your most human qualities to be put on display. Emotionally intelligent leaders always show and express their feelings, and this is most important when interacting with coworkers.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of emotional intelligence involves social awareness and relationship building. Any business conversation, no matter how casual, is important to business development, and as such each should be approached with emotional intelligence. Being honest with people and displaying your own emotions while understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others is a powerful tool in creating and maintaining relationships. This kind of communication can come in handy in even the most basic of conversations, for example, admitting you do not know the answer to something is, in itself, a display of emotional intelligence. Rather than speculating, gossiping, or guessing, just admitting you were either wrong or that you do not know is a step in the correct direction.

In terms of saving or making money, emotional intelligence has demonstrable effects on business. For example, a study by Initiative One Leadership confirmed that employees are 400% less likely to leave a job if they have a manager with high EQ. Moreover, EQ has been shown to help retain more than employees but also clients and customers. Obtaining new clients and hiring new employees can be costly, so emotional intelligence is also incredibly helpful in saving money.

In the competitive small business world, companies with high EQ stand out among the rest as they are pinnacles of achievement. This is no accident as emotional intelligence is useful in advancing your own business practices. Moreover, the more companies and businesses that adapt to this model, the more revenue each makes, thus increasing profits for everyone.












International Women’s Day 2019 – Balance for Better

International women’s day is celebrated on March 8th every year. The earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day,” was held on February 28, 1909, in New York, organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel. The 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations. Nowadays, International Women’s Day is a public holiday. In some countries, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day to celebrate womanhood.

Women have made strides in gaining equalizing rights throughout history, from the right to vote to the current push for equal pay for equal work. Notably, Representative Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to serve in federal office, sworn into the 65th U.S. Congress in 1917. The 19th Amendment, stating “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” was passed in Congress in 1919 and ratified in 1920; this amendment ensured female suffrage.

Fast forward to the year 2018, when 131 women were elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. The 116th Congress is the most diverse in history, and women are represented now more than ever before. Current Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi from California’s 12th Congressional District, expressed, “It gives me pride to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years since women won the right to vote, and as we serve with more than 100 women.” With a total of 535 seats in the U.S. Congress (435 representatives and 100 senators), the number of 131 women in these seats is about 24%. From 1 seat to 131, our nation saw an immense increase in representation for women at the federal level.

Today, we celebrate the accolades of women throughout history along with the women who are making history in the present. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. The focus of the theme is on innovative ways in which to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

Happy International Women’s Day!



Advanced Business Practice in Procurement

Procurement management is critical to businesses as it can take up a large percentage of a company’s spend. A long and procrastinated procurement process could cause potential loss to companies. Ways to improve the procurement process can be different to businesses in different areas, however, there are some common practices that are proved to be beneficial for companies that aim to lean their procurement procedures.

To begin with, automation would definitely help to improve procurement efficiency. An automated process can reduce repetitive operational work and eliminate human errors. Barriers that impede companies from automating their procurement include the lack of data integration, poor data quality, and endorsement from the management. In order to atomize procurement processes, technology plays an important role. A digital enterprise resource planning platform is necessary for managers to integrate company data and prioritize tasks. An automated platform can take care of spotting demands and supplies accurately as well as matching invoice spend.

Moreover, supplier engagement cannot be neglected. A good relationship with suppliers can bring businesses to a win-win situation. With more solid connections with suppliers, companies will be able to access to the latest innovation in their products, to improve their forecast and scheduling accuracy, and to lower their transaction costs. Beyond than building up relationships with suppliers to save the budget, it is also important to control companies spend internally. Optimizing inventory is the best practice since the ‘real cost’ of holding inventory is much higher than the cost of ordering items. The rule of thumb for holding costs is between 20 and 30 percent. Thus, organizations would be able to save more if they constantly regulate their inventories.

Lastly, contract management is the main component of procurement. The lack of consistency is contracts, cumbersome processing, and supply chain discontinuity can all bring negative impacts to companies. To better manage contacting processes, companies need to find their own ways. One possible solution is to bring contract management to cloud.  When contracts are created, stored, and maintained in a centralized data repository, organizations can leverage their spend optimally, reduce costs, and mitigate risk.



5G is Becoming a Reality

5G, the fifth generation of wireless networking technology, is the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. 5G will be able to surpass 4G LTE by targeting on high data rate, reducing latency, reducing cost, and increasing system capacity. As 4G can maximally reach its speed to 16.9 megabits per second (Mbps), 5G is able to deliver in Gigabit speeds (>1Gbps). Latency is the time interval between the stimulation and response. 5G targets on lowering latency from 9 milliseconds to 1 millisecond. The reduced latency will improve users experience to a large extent when they explore the virtual world. Moreover, since 5G has relatively low latency, it makes remote control of heavy machinery possible. 5G isn’t all about speed. It’s also about standard. Today’s networks rely on 200-foot towers to blanket large areas with signal. 5G will add more cell sites to cover more smaller areas, which enables multiple networks and devices to be connected at once. That’s the best part of 5G because it will not only connect people but also everything around. In the future, our cars will communicate with other vehicles about road conditions and helpful information on the road. If a car brakes up quickly in front of you, your car can detect that immediately and then brake as well.  5G will make billions of new connections possible within various industries such as autos, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution. The security of 5G might be a major concern of the public. A lot of emerging technologies are following the fast development of 5G to secure it. For example, Smart homes will require stronger methods of authentication, such as bio-metric identification. Other security installations such as firewall are necessary as well to protect our experience under the high-speed network.

When it comes to when can the 5G network officially meet the public, “it has been nearly a decade in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. Carriers started rolling out fixed 5G to select cities in 2018, and mobile 5G will start making appearances in cities around the U.S. in 2019, with much more comprehensive roll-outs expected in 2020” (Fortune). The incoming 5G era will definitely be a big hype to the world.


Business Automation within the Business World

Business Process Management is a discipline in operation management where people use different methods and tools to measure, improve, optimize and automate complex business processes. It can help companies simplify their business processes, achieve digital transformation, and improve their service delivery. Business process automation (BPA), the most practical technology to optimize working process, can be implemented within various field including accounting, marketing, and supply chain management. BPA benefits one’s organizations from several aspects. Firstly, it frees up companies’ workforce from many repetitive actions that do not need much human intervention. After reducing human workforce, companies would have a chance to reduce the overall operation cost. Secondly, BPA also helps to improve collaboration. By tracking project process, updating different teams, and setting project deliverables, BPA can collaborate employees efficiently. In addition, BPA improves organizations’ working efficiency to a large extent. A well-designed automation process can finish all inputting and updating work by a sitting, which will reduce the time used in discovering and correcting human mistakes. Without the distraction of redundant working processes, employees would have more time to focus on things that matter the most.

A lot of tools in automation have been developed in recent years. PandaDoc is a Google Docs add-on program that helps busy entrepreneurs create, deliver, and sign sales documents. One can easily put their electronic signatures on all types of contracts and proposals and organize all of your documents in one easy-to-manage platform; Tracking expenses is perhaps one of the most time-consuming parts of running a business. The Expensify app enables entrepreneurs to track their expenses and create automatic expense reports. Managers can even scan receipts for expenses and the program will extract information, such as where the purchase was made and put it into the database for you. This means less time calculating and organizing receipts and expenses and more time growing business. Due is an accounting tool designed to help business owners keep track of their finances, especially when tax season rolls around. This program is meant to be a complete accounting solution and is filled with features that take care of automating virtually every part of the business’s financial record.

Business process automation is definitely a forward-thinking strategy that should be applied to our business world. With the help of business automation tools, business owners would be able to save time and cost within every single aspect of their businesses.



Businesses Brace for Brexit

In two months, Great Britain is scheduled to depart from the European Union, and no deal has been solidified to ensure a soft exit where trade deals can remain intact, and British businesses do not get harmed in the process. Some consider this exit better than remaining in the European Union at all, but businesses are acting more skeptical of the procedure.

On the surface, employment in Britain is higher than it has ever been, and so far, it has been hard to tell the outcome of Brexit. However, the way businesses are behaving suggests they may be more worried than initially presumed.  Banks such as Morgan Stanley are creating jobs in other European countries as a possible contingency, we still are unsure if these jobs come at the expense of British jobs. while this movement is smaller than initially predicted, the concept is still worrisome.

In terms of jobs on real terms, job growth has continued throughout the Brexit negotiation process, and it has been a boon to public sector jobs and the like. The British government has awarded £95 million in contracts and hired 20,000 new civil servants. Private sector jobs have also increased.

However, business investment has remained stagnant, and the uncertainty of the deal is only contributing to this stagnation. Businesses are holding onto existing workers and some have begun stockpiling resources in the event that a hard Brexit occurs in which tariffs could dramatically increase. In addition, companies such as Sony are moving their HQ to the Netherlands to avoid possible customs problems, and to avert future trade problems that could arise because of a poor trade deal.

A “no deal” Brexit could have huge implications for the country in an even more macroeconomic scale. This hard exit from a multinational trade agreement that could affect current trade deals with 70 different countries including South Korea, Mexico, and Canada to name a few. The key point here is that this kind of abrupt exit from the EU could affect trade deals with more than just EU member states, because some countries give the EU preferential treatment.

The impact of Brexit could ripple throughout the world in terms of trade. Increasing trade prices in Britain can cause businesses to relocate, and a poor relationship with the European Union can cause strenuous future politics between the two entities.