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Need advice on govt contracts

Veteran

Clint Everling Lompoc, CA

Hi, I am the PM (contractor) for a govt contract and need advice regarding performance standards relating to PWS and Service Summary Items.
Question: When should the performance standards be captured for monthly reporting? During/prior to initial kickoff or after the project/task order is a few months underway?
Any advice is very much appreciated, thank you.

12 February 2019 6 replies Education & Training

Answers

Advisor

Greg Hayley Pueblo, CO

Hello Clint,
You’ve gotten great feedback already, and I definitely agree with early on. I’ll just add a slightly different twist. You should use the performance standards to set the expectations for your team on what high performance looks like in order to delight the customer within the constraints of the budget. The military’s up or out process and extensive training/inspections provides a common reinforcement of what a high performance looks like. As you transition to industry, you need to ensure your team understands what high performance looks like. As a team building exercise, you could review the PWS and have them tell you what high performance looks like and how it should be measured. Also, by setting standards early on, you can evaluate and adjust as more data comes in and you learn more about the customer’s hot buttons.
A well written PWS will define those performance standards. As Deb pointed out, if you’ve already won the contract there is nothing to prevent you from talking with the customer to better understand their needs and expectations.
As John and James pointed out, you need to report the customer what is required by the contract deliverables. I would argue that relying on CDRL requirements are a bad way to run a project. By definition they are lagging indicators. You need to identify the leading and lagging metrics that will lead your team to success.
Hope this is helpful.
VR,
Greg

20 February 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

John Brady Sterling, VA

Clint,

Performance Standards should be identified early in the process--ideally before/during kick-off and tracked starting on Day 1. The best way to define the measurement and reporting requirements is to look at the CDRL form and the CDRL descriptions that are in the final contract award. They should give clear direction on what the documents should be (word, powerpoint, excel), how it should look, and when they are to be delivered. Typically the first deliverable is 45 days after contract award. As Deb stated earlier, the customer is the probably the best one to determine/get feedback on whether your reports are meeting the needs of the customers. They should be a part of your Stakeholder Involvement Plan and involved early on in the process. Might look across similar business initiatives to see if anyone has the same customer and see how other programs report similar information to the customer. Hope this helps. Vr John

20 February 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Deborah Carter Owens Cross Roads, AL

Hi Clint,

I'm not sure I have the big picture but I'll try to answer based on what I think I understand.

If this is an existing contract that you're currently executing then you may want to consult with the program contracting lead. Since all Statements of Work and Performance Work Statements are different there may be specific requirements that define the timing and type of reporting required on a monthly basis.

If this is new work that you're bidding and it's not clear in the RFP or supporting documents what will be required for monthly reporting then you should probably ask the customer.

As to when the performance standards should be/are defined, I'm not a contracts expert but I believe those should be defined prior to contract start-up otherwise you're being measured on something that you haven't agreed to, or reporting metrics on the PWS that aren't necessary or required.

I hope I'm not in left field!

Take care!
Deb

20 February 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

James Montgomery Elkins Park, PA

Clint,
I agree with Chuck with a couple modifications. I'm fairly new to this but I've been on the front end of one or two contract negotiations post award. I would submit that you should write into the proposal (and subsequently contract) that an initial capture of standards should be done at the outset even before work starts.

This can be accomplished by using a combination of past performance and business standards. They can be pretty general but you need a baseline to measure performance early on. (I'm assuming you're doing services and not development)

Subsequent to that, likely after work has progressed several months... there needs to be another negotiation of standards. This is the meeting that can go quite long and must involve leadership from both the customer and the vendor. Standards and reporting processes must be refined. This can go from reporting schedules to aspects of the program that may never have been envisioned.

This course correction event needs to be codified in the contract. The customer has to know that you're planning on revisiting standards after you've been going for a bit and that you'll require their input. This will allay their fears that you're just going to go off and do stuff without being held to account (not that you would). But also, they need to know you're going to tighten up the performance criteria and they will have a say in this. They may not want anything changed... they may want to change everything but there will be a time when they can voice those concerns.

This azimuth check will also ensure your Contractor Assessments are getting their best ratings and you stand a better chance of gaining new work in the future. If the customer believes you have their best interest in mind, they're going to extend you and your past performance will benefit future business capture. [Hope this helps; -James]

20 February 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Chuck Burger King Of Prussia, PA

Clint,

I do not have direct experience with the specifics that you mention (performance work statements/services) but since by definition a PWS "tends to be a “bottom up” assessment with “re-engineering” potential..." (ref: http://acqnotes.com/acqnote/tasks/performance-work-statement-pws), I would offer that if not a majority of standards, then many, would seem ripe to be captured early while those subject to "re-engineering" could evolve with time. After all, as a good PM you already know that you can be early, or you can be late :).

20 February 2019 Helpful answer

Veteran

Clint Everling Lompoc, CA

Wow, thank you everyone for your in depth and extremely helpful advice. I will start implementing your ideas immediately on the contract so I can better track my IT teams performance. The government will be very pleased with the results. I can’t thank you enough for your help and the time you took to reach out to me. THANK YOU!

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