As many companies work to shift their customer acquisition strategies in response to our current economic conditions, we’re seeing numerous firms turn their focus to government contracting (specifically, looking for and responding to Government RFPs). We’ve talked to companies that have served government buyers, but only as subcontractors in the past, so now they’re looking to bid on work directly. We’ve also talked to firms that are hoping to increase their work and approach Government RFP opportunities more systematically to ensure growth.
While this thinking makes a lot of sense and provides tremendous potential for hungry businesses, it can be mind-boggling to get in the game. It’s often difficult to identify the right opportunities and do so in a timely fashion, especially for SMBs that can’t afford to apply dedicated resources or teams to the task.
In order to establish a successful government business pipeline, many SMBs that have already been focused on these contracts indicate that they’re using tools to help them stay abreast of the opportunities and timelines. But there are several options available with varying capabilities, so we did some research to help companies get their arms around the options.
Here’s our list of the top tools, segmented by coverage area.
Solutions Covering All Government Sectors
This joint solution – GovWin IQ+OnVia – is part of Deltek corporation, a leader in government contract management and accounting software. The two brands started as separate solutions. GovWin began in 2007 with a focus on Federal government RFPs, and was subsequently acquired by Deltek in 2009. OnVia began much earlier with a focus on the State, Local and Education (SLED) segments, and was acquired in 2017.
The resulting solution claims it has the industry’s largest team of analysts focusing on government contracting, enabling organizations to gain a competitive advantage when pursuing business in all areas of government. In addition to providing early notifications on a variety of procurement opportunities (which you can tailor to match your business characteristics), GovWin+OnVia provides market and competitive intelligence, forecasts on activity — like their 2020 SLED Government Contracting Forecast — as well as a host of other research and information specifically tailored to an array of industries including Technology, Business Services, Architecture & Engineering as well as Construction (AEC), and more.
Plans are available for Federal or SLED support, and free trials are available. Pricing is not published by the company. Users do rank the product highly; you can check out their comments on G2.
EZGovOps also covers both Federal and SLED opportunities. They position themselves as the “affordable force in government market intelligence.” Founded in 2010, they are not newcomers to the category either. They have strong reviews, a broadly functional solution with solid features, and flexible plans. Their client list includes many strong mid-market businesses as well as some marquee names.
The company offers a 5-day free trial and plans that range from $1,995 – 5,495 annually. Their pricing and functionality at each tier is transparently listed on their website. EZGovOps seems to be a good option for midsized companies looking to cover both Federal and SLED opportunities.
GovSpend also covers the array of Federal and SLED opportunities with a focus on providing alerts and data on Bids & RFPs, procurement opportunities, government contacts and more. According to their website, more than 80% of government purchasing occurs without an RFP process, so their database is designed to help businesses tap into this potential.
The product is clean and easy to use, and they also offer a free trial before signing onto a plan. Their customer list includes a variety of well-known brands.
The new kids on the block are BidSearch. This recent market entrant provides a solution that is modern-looking and easy to use. It is a narrowly-focused solution providing RFP and opportunity identification without a lot of bells and whistles or additional market intelligence. They do state that they cover over 100,000 opportunities including those from some Canadian provinces in addition to comprehensive coverage of the U.S.
BidSearch offers extremely reasonable pricing options. (Dare we say cheap? Maybe super-affordable is the right terminology.) They offer a 14-day free trial, too, which seemed to be the most generous in our research.
Another newer player in the field is DemandStar. While the company is new, the team is not, bringing prior experience from OnVia and the tax solution Avalara. They promise access to opportunities from over 500 government entities with national, state, or county-level subscription options. They also indicate that some subscription options are free, so this newer, hungry business may be an ideal choice for cash-strapped businesses to get started with a solution.
Despite the contemporary name, BidNet has been in the business of providing government business intelligence since 1983. Like many of the competitors, a key piece of their offer is Bid Alert, which is driven by their proprietary technology, as well as customer profile development to help companies better understand the buying organizations.
Like GovWin IQ+OnVia, BidNet offers vertically-specific coverage for industries including IT, AEC, and professional services, but they also cover less common verticals such as Sports & Recreation and Clothing & Accessories. Their client list appears to include both mid-market and SMB companies.
While many vendors who began with a SLED focus have expanded into the Federal arena, a few solutions are sticking to their more local approach to government coverage.
Vendor Registry serves over 400 public agencies and over 70,000 vendors across the United States. Their focus is cities, counties, school districts, utilities, higher education, airport authorities and other municipal government agencies. Similar to some of the comprehensive offers above, Vendor Registry hand-codes bids and RFPs from these entities and delivers timely bid alerts to vendors with matching products and services in order to facilitate commerce nationwide.
A division of eRepublic, GovTech Navigator has taken the unique approach of focusing exclusively on State and Local IT contracts and EdTech information. This focused approach appears to offer a compelling value proposition while still keeping costs reasonable (their plans start at only $2,500 annually). At the same time, their site displays testimonials from some of the big names in IT, including CA Technologies, AMD, and Alcatel Lucent. Plan pricing and functionality appears to scale at reasonable levels, and the base plan, although only available for a single user, still offers reasonable functionality. If your business is IT-related (including anything from peripherals to services), this may be a good option for you.
Avisare brings a unique mission to the category, with the goal of connecting Local Governments and Tier 1 contractors (those submitting $100M + bids) with small, diverse businesses to make it easier for small businesses to compete effectively. Their solution uses technology to move beyond NAICS codes to categorize businesses for more accurate matching of government opportunities, whether direct or as subcontractors, with their SMB customers.
Their unique mission doesn’t end with how they’ve structured their solution — they also donate a portion of their profits to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Their vision is compelling. They could be the solution that smaller, unique businesses need to get their foot in the door.
The cadillac of all the solutions we reviewed is Bloomberg Government or BGOV. This solution is geared towards government affairs professionals as well as government contractors, all at the Federal level. In addition to providing data on opportunities, their offering includes a rich set of information and analysis that supports businesses more broadly. While an impressive looking solution for the policy-oriented business or professional, if your main goal is to find RFPs and opportunities, this tool may not be the best fit for you.
Also new to the scene is Federal Compass, founded just last year by industry vets. They promise to take a different approach than competitors, while still providing up-to-the-minute opportunity information. Their solution purports to take a “personalized” approach for each company, using both historical performance information along with incoming Federal signals to help clients craft a winning strategy for serving Federal customers. They’re also offering integration capabilities prominently, taking a more cutting edge tack than the competition.
While new, their strategy does seem unique, and with free trials available, they may provide some extra “secret sauce” to early adopters looking to get into Federal with a more customized mindset.
Lower Cost Options
There are two companies that enable businesses to search across databases of Federal, State, and Local RFPs without a contract, GovernmentBids.com and FindRFP. While these offerings require that you initiate the search, they might be an excellent starting point for businesses to get a better understanding of the array of opportunities in the marketplace that are applicable to their businesses. Each company also has paid subscription offerings which extend their search functionality with alerts and other valuable tools.
At the end of the day, you can always decide to do it yourself using free government tools. SAM.gov is the Federal government’s interface for searching all information on contracts and sourcing. Much of the site is still in beta (thus the current name of beta.SAM.gov), but it consolidates former disparate sites run by the government. It’s pretty daunting for new users.
Similarly, States and Local entities must make their sourcing decisions public, so contract records and RFPs can be found without a paid service. The challenge is doing that efficiently. We recommend that any company seriously considering doing business at the SLED level on an on-going basis invests in a tool. Your return will be realized quickly.
And of course, when you’re responding to RFPs, don’t forget to explore how DraftSpark can help you be more efficient!