Government Contractor Project Management Software Buyers’ Guide

Woman engineering working on aerospace machinery wearing a blue suit and white hard helmet.

This Buyers’ Guide for Government Contractor Project Management Software explores the four practical benefits with Cora PPM: systems integration, regulatory compliance, financial management and resource optimization.

4 Practical Benefits with Cora

Scale and complexity

The Government Contractor landscape today: the IIJA, CHIPS and IRA

Talent pool

Accountability

Benefit 1: Systems Integration

Making You the ‘Control Tower’

Organizational Buy-in

Benefit 2: Regulatory Compliance

Audit Trails

Document Management

Benefit 3: Financial Management for GovCon

Earned Value Management (EVM)

Cora Project Controls

Benefit 4: Resource Optimization

Cora Resource Management

Аircraft engine maintenance

The Government Contracting Landscape Today: the IIJA, CHIPS and IRA

“These three new laws represent a massive investment in American competitiveness (and) create unique challenges of scale, complexity, and accountability.”

Deloitte Insights1

In 2021 and 2022 the U.S. government created three new Acts to significantly boost the economy over the next ten years and beyond. Between them, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provide:

“More than $2 trillion in authorized federal funding and incentives for up to 10 years.”

This investment presents an exciting opportunity for the many businesses working in the government contracting sector. Particularly for those larger organizations acting as primary contractors, whose job it is to transform government aspirations into working projects.

But the sheer size of that investment is a challenge in itself, and in their recently published Insights report on those three Acts, Deloitte highlight the three main areas that GovCon (Government Contractor) organizations will need to focus on.

Scale and Complexity

The most obvious challenge is to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the sheer scale of all the funding opportunities that have suddenly opened up. Dealing with the federal government is often challenging but these three laws have multiple aims beyond simply boosting the economy and stimulating business. They also have wide-ranging societal objectives aimed at improving equality of opportunity, and around inclusion and diversity.

This is going to require interacting with local as well as federal government contractor agencies, with non-profit organizations and with a number of other private sector subcontractors. All of which will create added bureaucracy.

It’s vital then that businesses employ a sophisticated software package to help centralize all that data. Your project management office will need to develop common reporting systems so they can track progress and expenditure and monitor any funding applications.

All of which produces a huge amount of documentation and reporting, which all needs to be instantly accessible and kept permanently up to date.

Talent Pool

In the survey they conducted into infrastructure in 2021, Deloitte found that the biggest concern for government contractor companies operating in the private sector was accessing the available talent pool.

There is still a huge shortage of available IT workers, notwithstanding the over-spend from the five tech giants during the pandemic. Whether what you need are data analysts, software engineers or people trained around managing data storage, it is still extremely challenging finding suitably skilled workers.

Cranes on the construction site surrounded by new real estates. Scenic aerial photo of growing city districts

Furthermore, that demand for skilled workers has become even more acute because of the added workers required to service and build the new infrastructure needed for the expanding renewable energy market.

Improvements around the networks facilitating water and waste, broadband and 5G, power generation and the expanding power grid are all adding further pressures to an already stressed labor market.

This means that companies in the government contractor sector will need to invest even more time and effort in producing efficiencies around resource management and capacity planning, and employ carefully calibrated systems around strategic workforce planning. This will ensure that the right people are working on the right projects, and that your organization is staffed by employees with the appropriate skill sets.

Accountability

Being able to ensure proper compliance, reporting and transparency is always critically important for any organization working in the GovCon space. But that accountability becomes even more of a challenge when the number of projects you’re overseeing mean you’re partnering with multiple third parties, operating in different kinds of business areas.

Local and federal government departments, and the huge number and variety of different third-party subcontractors, will all have different and sometimes competing goals and use their own particular systems, software and processes.

You’ll need to put in place a system of processes to identify the right metrics to use for measuring performance, so you can evaluate outcomes, and to weight those metrics in relation to short, medium and long-term goals.

On a project-by-project basis, you’ll need to carefully track all your costs so you can monitor how far they’re deviating from your original forecasts, which will allow you to take prompt, corrective action. While all those metrics will need to be tracked and monitored in real time, so everyone can be confident that everything is up to date.

This becomes even more challenging when funds and information are flowing back and forth between different kinds of partners, working together on a large number of interconnected projects.

All of which means that the software you choose to organize and process all that data will be one of the main factors that determines how much of that $2 trillion flows through your organization, and not through one of your competitors.

1. https://www2.deloitte.com/za/en/resources/ /industry/public-sector/infrastructure-bill-projects-agency-execution.html

One of the principal pain points for companies in the GovCon (government contractor) sector is the siloed nature of their organizational structures. All too often, departments and business units have their own particular goals and end up using systems and processes designed with them in mind.

There is no joined-up thinking and little in the way of coordination or even communication, and everyone has their own way of doing things. With the result that projects get duplicated in different parts of the organization and individual business units end up pursuing conflicting objectives.

Making You the ‘Control Tower’

Cora takes all your systems and processes and integrates them into the one, central hub. Whatever systems or software packages you use for your financials, your scheduling, resourcing or any other element, all get seamlessly integrated.

Cora PPM Control Tower

This means that everyone works in the same standardized way, and off the same facts and figures, because Cora makes it extremely easy to export data from one system to the next. And because all your data are being constantly updated, in real time, you get immediate visibility into how each individual project is progressing.

That’s because Cora makes you the ‘control tower’, overseeing and orchestrating all the activities across your organization, ensuring that each of your teams are working together instead of in isolated siloes.

Organizational Buy-in

It’s no use installing new software if no one knows how to use it and everyone continues to do what they do using the old system. Which is why we’ve developed Cora as a no code / low code platform. This means almost every element is configurable.

If, for instance, you want to expand or replace some of the applications in your earned value management system, so that your scheduling, planning and reporting are all sitting in the one function, it’s very easy for you to configure that for yourself. You simply drag whichever of the elements you want to include and drop them into one of the pre-existing templates.

Our software has been improved and added to for more than twenty-five years so that, when you migrate your data into Cora, any existing processes will be seamlessly integrated into the new, centralized system. This means that anyone who wants to can continue working just as they were before, but from within the new system.

But because everything has now been integrated into the one system, all those processes will be streamlined, giving you operational efficiencies and making them better adapted to individual workflows. Which will give you the ability to create business process operations against elements that will help you to meet any compliance requirements.

The GovCon industry is heavily regulated and there are stringent standards that need to be adhered to around safety, security and quality. While any large organization acting as the primary contractor with a U.S. government department will need to be audited by whichever body they use for that. In the aerospace and defense industry, for instance, it’s the Defense Contract Audit Agency, or DCAA.

This will mean you need to perform an internal pre-audit beforehand, to check for any compliance issues and to make sure that all certifications are up to date and available.

Audit Trails

Everything that gets inputted into Cora, any documents or images, in whatever format, gets time, date and user stamped, which generates an audit trail for all and any activity around whatever it is.

Cora PPM Software Audit Trail Screenshot

If there’s a question around, say, a certification, you can immediately see when and who uploaded it, if and when it was amended and by whom, and whatever action (if any) was taken in response. Everything is precisely recorded.

Then, if you choose to, you can configure your system so that items get archived after a certain period of time (or not), and that later on again they can then be deleted permanently (or not).

Document Management

More generally speaking, document management in Cora revolves around two features: registers and smart forms.

One of the perennial problems for organizations is having to navigate dozens and then hundreds of spreadsheets. Cora registers address this by giving you a single, central function that acts as an overall spreadsheet. This allows you to manage all that data in the one place, and enables you to link your register with whatever elements you need it to connect to.

It’s very easy, for instance, to create a register that gives you a Compliance Score, enabling you to track how well your organization is adhering to government regulations and standards. This will help to minimize the risk of possible fines or penalties.

You can then create a dashboard widget that will give you immediate visibility into all that data, allowing you link to specific tasks or projects so you can navigate back and forth between them. You can then create corrective action plans in response to the insights that result, and workflows that issue notifications and alerts based on the decisions that result from all those insights.

If registers enable you to manage all your spreadsheets, Cora smart forms perform the same function for ‘word’ docs. You can create them using existing templates with dynamic fields that can be designed in whatever way you need.

Instead of having scores of documents using different versions of ‘word’, everyone has access to exactly the same documents and whatever gets changed or added there is done dynamically. Everything is kept permanently up to date and is immediately accessible.

There are three areas where Cora is particularly powerful when it comes to helping Government Contractor companies with their financial management.

First, and on a more general level, it’s extremely easy to integrate whichever financial or accounting software you use into Cora, whether that’s SAP, Sage or any of the other systems. Migrating data sets and exporting data from one system to the other is quick, easy and frictionless.

Then, there are two functionalities that have been developed specifically for companies working in the GovCon sector.

Earned Value Management (EVM)

All organizations working with federal, state, local, and education (SLED) bodies are required to produce earned value management (EVM) metrics, to ensure that their financials, estimates and forecasts are based on agreed, objective criteria rather than on subjective opinions.

You can track whichever EVM metrics you’re required to across all Cora functionalities. This enables you to review schedule and cost performance indices (CPI and SPI), Planned Value (PV) costs, budget at completion (BAC) and any actions, dependencies and changes on any of your project registers.

This will reduce any deviation between planned and actuals costs and schedule, and minimize the risk of cost overruns and schedule delays.

Cora Project Controls

EVM is very useful for comparing where you are with a project at a specific moment in time, with where you were supposed to be, according to your initial estimates and forecasts. But it’s less good at keeping track of the continual changes that all projects are subject to. This is what Cora Project Controls has been designed to address.

This is a set of tools that enable you to track all the changes to costs that occur over the course of a project, and on a continual basis. Because if you’re not on top of any changes to your estimates at completion (EACs), you very quickly lose control of that project.

It’s this ability to track costs in such a detailed and continuous way that makes project controls such a powerful tool. It provides you with invaluable insights into your financials, and immediate visibility into each stage of your project’s lifecycle.

The best way to ensure resource optimization is with a set of tools that give you that top-down overview into each of your projects, and into where they each sit within your overall portfolio.

Cora Resource Management

This is what Cora Resource Management functionality has been designed to provide you with. It gives you the tools to conduct an inventory of where your organization is at any given moment, of what resources and assets you have, where they’re currently being deployed and how long they’ll be needed for.

Cora PPM Software Resource Management Dashboard

This will give you valuable insights into how capable you are of servicing your current demand, and where there might be any gaps as far as meeting the future demand forecast in your pipeline.

It then gives you the tools to be able to conduct detailed strategic workforce planning, to assess what your strengths and weaknesses are in relation to the skills sets available to you. You can generate Management Capacity and Resource Manager reports, enabling you to view your workforce in terms of individuals, groups, skills sets and projects.

This allows you to plan around whether you’ll need to expand the workforce with new hires or bring in external contract workers. You can then work with HR to ensure that the right hiring pools are being targeted.

All of which will give you further insights around your portfolio management, and into which projects are the ones you should be selecting and which are the ones to pass on.

Cora offers a uniquely flexible solution for whatever your challenges are. Whether what you need is that 30,000 foot, bird’s-eye view of your portfolio, or a detailed, granular view into each and every stage of your project’s lifecycle. Or, indeed, both. Cora PPM provides you with that unrivalled and effortless visibility.

It’s all there on your dashboard.

Find out more and watch a demo now.

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