Competition for government contracts is fierce. More companies are chasing fewer openings and the line between a failed bid and a successful bid is getting finer all the time.
"There's no doubt that the bidding process has become more competitive," says Ken Malach, president and chief operating officer of CRI Advantage, which provides IT solutions and services.
"There are more companies in the marketplace competing for fewer contracts, so the competition is increasing," he adds.
When that contract requires you to be Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) compliant as well, the pressure can be even greater, because your investment in the bidding process is that much higher.
"DCAA is a very strict requirement," says Malach. "Ensuring the proper processes, controls, and systems are in place is critical to meeting these requirements."
So how did CRI Advantage get ready for DCAA compliance?
DCAA compliant time tracking
Operating from offices in Idaho, Albuquerque, NM, and Washington, DC, CRI Advantage has a solid reputation for delivering government contracts and projects at both state and federal level. To prepare itself for DCAA compliance, the company introduced a number of new systems—one of which is time tracking.
They quickly realized that their old time tracker had to go.
"We weren't going to get by without tracking our time properly," explains Malach.
The way we were tracking time before was cumbersome. It cost us more. And looking down the road, one of the next contracts ahead of us could require DCAA compliance, so we needed to make sure we were compliant, because it's a requirement. You have to have these things in place for your business to go out there and bid for these projects.
Government projects are already a significant part of CRI Advantage's business, but they are by no means the only part. In its 28-year history, the firm has worked with some big companies—including Hewlett Packard, Delta Airlines, SuperValu, General Electric, Merrill Lynch, and Micron, to name a few—and continues to do so today.
"Back at the beginning we were primarily a commercial company," Malach reflects. "But now our business consists of state, federal, and commercial clients."
CRI Advantage's government portfolio now includes the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Energy, among others, for which they provide cyber security, software, and IT managed services. They've won awards for it too. In 2009 the Department of Energy, a cabinet–level agency with an annual budget of almost $30 billion, named CRI Advantage its Small Business of the Year.
Play to your strengths
So what is it that has made CRI Advantage the government's go–to choice in such a critical area? According to Malach, it is their reputation for reliability and the fact that they free up their clients to focus on what they do best.
"Our expertise is providing a managed service to the customer," he explains. "Our model has been in place for more than 20 years and we have methodologies that, when followed, make implementing managed services easy. Our customers outsource a portion of their business that isn't their core competency and we manage it all for them."
He adds, "It's similar to the way we use TSheets. We've outsourced our time tracking to a company that knows the trends, knows what their clients want, and keeps the technology fresh. And it's all hosted for us so we don't have to worry about building the infrastructure to run it."
For a business that prides itself on helping others to work more efficiently, it made sense to adopt a system that would do the same thing for their own company. Just as CRI Advantage helps government departments focus on their day jobs, TSheets' time tracking system has helped CRI Advantage focus on getting the rest of its processes in line with DCAA compliance as well—such as ensuring that every single employee is properly trained and aware of what's required of them.
Implement DCAA compliant procedures
The person responsible for putting all of these moving pieces into place is operations manager Ivy Slattery, who says CRI Advantage's time tracking system is a world apart from where they were before.
We had been using a manual entry system which took a lot longer to manage and create the reports we needed, so the DCAA compliant component of our time tracking changed a lot of how we operate.Ivy Slattery
The impact of these changes meant it was essential for CRI to adopt a time tracking system that was flexible enough to work with the way they ran their business, without causing further upheaval.
Do your research
"We did a lot of background research," Malach explains. "We vetted other companies, and ultimately selected TSheets. Then we started the process of modeling how the system worked with our system."
"Like any tool it has to fit your business," adds Slattery. "You don't make your business fit the tool. So TSheets helped us to meet our requirements while we still met the DCAA requirements. It allowed us to put those controls and measures in place, so employees could report their own time and do it each day in a system that was regulated and controlled."
She adds, "TSheets makes it easy for us to track our time every day and if anyone does have to make a change to a time card, it also creates the back end audit trail we need to explain why the changes were made."
"There was a lot of prep work in the beginning. We had to implement our corporate policies and procedures, and it was absolutely a culture change for us, but with TSheets we were able to roll it out seamlessly."
Be ready for a DCAA audit
Malach is confident that CRI is well placed to deliver on contracts requiring DCAA compliance and they will have everything in place for success.
From a time tracking point of view I think we are in a perfect position for a DCAA auditor to come in look at what we are doing. Because we are always working hard to ensure everyone is entering their time correctly every day.Ken Malach
Has the time-tracking investment paid off?
"Absolutely," says Malach. "It saves us time. For our employees, it's a quick process to enter their time daily, and from the back office side of things too, it really streamlines things and saves a lot of time. TSheets has been a great partner for us."
Want to learn more about DCAA compliance?
- TSheets resource center: 'Get a Head Start with Our DCAA Compliance Checklist'
- TSheets blog: '7 Things You Need to Know about DCAA Compliance'