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Contract Management- Lessons from the assembly line

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In some regards, the federal contracting process is much like a very complex factory assembly line.  The raw materials and inputs change with each run, but the process remains constant.  Some of the steps are serial and sequential, while others occur in parallel, with lots of moving parts and variables, but all of those steps flow toward a standardized result.  The key to keeping that assembly line moving efficiently is a well-defined process that provides the required elements on time and at the right place.

Additionally, following the factory reference, if something starts to goes wrong you need to have analytical mechanisms to pinpoint possible areas of friction so the line can be brought back on track.  There needs to be a way to quickly visualize where things are in the process as well as measure what is working well and what is not.  In a factory, that sometimes requires time lapse photography to analyze what took place.  With a cloud based application, you get to see those time-stamped pictures with total clarity.

A tool exists today that empowers the COR by automating the entire COR acquisition workflow.  A range of individuals get involved with most acquisitions and the tool accommodates that by having all information, documentation and correspondence for that acquisition available within a single environment.  It lets you set aside those Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, paper files, and obscure file naming conventions by presenting a standardized and unified mechanism that gets the job done efficiently.

The oversight and dashboard capabilities of the application provide management with a clear view of all the work actually going into bringing an acquisition to fruition.  That one aspect should mean that in the future, the role of the COR in keeping quality contracts rolling off the assembly line is well understood and appreciated.  The ability to accurately summarize an agency’s contracting activity without having to pull the workers off the “factory floor” for a meeting is in everyone’s interest.


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