Federal Agencies, Are You Taking Advantage of Contractor Certifications and Partnerships? Part I

By CJ Capizzi, Senior Manager

If you scan just about any federal contractor’s website, you will see their certifications and partnerships highlighted as badges of honor. But often the value of these is not well communicated to customers, which means federal agencies are not able to benefit from the credentials. There are many ways federal agencies can take advantage of contractor certifications and partnerships. It starts with understanding what those qualifications entail and what they can mean when it comes time to choose a contractor.

Understanding certifications

First, let’s discuss certifications in the context of GovCon. Certifications are acknowledgments by a standards body that an organization, person, or entity meets a specific set of guidelines that focus on knowledge and/or process. These certifications are typically the result of an independent assessment (e.g. an exam) and/or audit to verify the specific set of criteria for the certification have been satisfactorily met.

Within the federal domain many of the common certifications come from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as well as Carnegie Mellon’s Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI), both of which have a number of different types of certifications ranging from information security to quality management to service delivery.

Why are certifications like these important for federal agencies to understand?

Certifications like these enable federal agencies to easily qualify a company as having in-house knowledge, mature practices, and processes within a specific area or domain.

Understanding partnerships

Now, let’s turn to partnerships. Partnerships are business relationships between a company and a product or service provider to gain access to resources, such as expertise, products, services, and/or training, typically aimed at the delivery of specific capabilities through access to knowledge, products, services, and/or training. Companies often seek out these partnerships as part of their go-to-market strategy for capturing new work, whether they are trying to differentiate their capabilities, or they recognize the need for expertise in pursuing a specific agency opportunity.

Most partnerships are tiered (e.g., Silver, Gold, etc.) requiring a certain number of individuals be certified with a designated process framework or technology to maintain the partnership. The tiers also provide different levels of access to the partner’s in-house experts, products, services, and training. Some typical partnerships for companies providing IT support services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), and ServiceNow.

Why are partnerships like these important for federal agencies to understand?

Partnerships such as those provided as examples help federal agencies verify the contractor brings expertise within a specific framework or product, as well as allow the Federal Government access to the benefits of the partnership.

Understanding the overall significance of certifications and partnerships can help Federal Government agencies make better contracting decisions. However, there are specific benefits that agencies should also consider when selecting contractors. Forthcoming in Part II, we will overview what those benefits include. We will also discuss why and how federal agencies can leverage benefits of certifications and partnerships, including Octo’s. In the meantime, if you have questions, reach out to a member of our team.