We Won the Task Order Master Contract! Now What?

by Ted Heath

First, We Celebrate 

Winning a task order master contract is not easy! Typically, many people have worked many hours (and many after-hours) to help our organization win this master contract. So on Contract Award Day, we plan and host an excellent Victory Party attended by everyone who contributed to the Big Win. We introduce every contributor, we applaud every contributor, and we thank them with terrific food and drink.  

Then, We Work 

Currently, most task order master contracts are “multiple award contracts.” In other words, your organization AND other organizations have been designated as “awardees.” Winning the task order master contract does not necessarily mean that your organization has won new business. It simply means that you and all the other awardees have won the right to pursue individual task order requests, which will be issued later. Like getting a hunting license, the hunter now has permission to hunt but has yet to bag the catch. So now we begin the work of competing against other awardees to win the individual task orders, one at a time.  

Ride the First Wave 

In many cases, our customer has been pre-selling the master contract (or “vehicle”) to THEIR customers, long before the awardees have been awarded. This may trigger the sudden release of a huge ‘first wave’ of individual task order requests immediately upon contract award. Successful players in the task order business routinely tell us that awardees who win the FIRST task orders also tend to win the MOST task orders throughout the life of the master contract. Are we ready for the tsunami? 

Interact with the Customer 

Interacting with the customer immediately upon winning the master contract helps to establish trust, build cooperation, and initiate a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship:  

  • Thank the customer. That’s the person who awarded the task order master contract to us. 
  • Ask for a post-award debrief. Customer-led debriefs are not just for the “losers.” As a master contract awardee, a debrief can help us to learn what the customer liked or didn’t like about our proposal… and their expectations or concerns about our upcoming task order performance. 
  • Demonstrate that our team is ready-to-go, just as we promised in our proposal.  
  • Confirm the ‘First Wave’ is coming. How many task orders requests will be issued now? How soon does the customer want us to begin performing the contracted work? 
  • Get buy-in. Ask the customer what they would like us to do (or not do) to be fully responsive to their needs. If there is no First Wave, can they to tell us which potential task orders they would like us to pursue first? 

Launch Our Team 

We launch our team on the day after the master contract is awarded to us:  

  • Activate our Task Order Program Management Office (PMO). Notify our teammates that we won. Our website goes “live.” We issue a press release announcing our ‘win.’   
  • Stand up our “first responders.” That includes our proposal team, who prepares to respond to the First Wave of task orders requests. It also includes our capture team, who begins lining up the next round of task orders we want to bid on.  
  • Announce our contract kick meeting will be held tomorrow at 8am. Attendance is mandatory for everyone on our team, both within our organization (awardee) and our teammates too.  
  • Distribute our Task Order Manual. Send a copy of the Task Order Manual to everyone on our team, and make it readily available online. Validate our team’s organizational readiness for capturing, proposing, winning, and working our task orders.  
  • Define success, goals, and rewards. Encourage all teammates to include task orders in their “go-to-market” strategy. (For example, “We will grow our booked revenue by 10% per year using this task order vehicle.”) Encourage everyone to look for opportunities to use our new task order vehicle to win more business. 
  • Measure results. Communicate task-order-based business development metrics. Report results routinely. Announce successes broadly. Celebrate every “win!”  

Start Early 

If we start early, our organization can win more task orders than any of the other awardees. And if we perform successfully on the awarded work, we can grow our revenue and profit stream over many years.