Here’s something that isn’t a walk in the park: Achieving a 25% SB/DVBE procurement quota for making purchases (Disclaimer: I know that this isn’t the case for all state departments, but it’s a largely recognized statistic in the California public sector space. Regardless, you’re probably having to hit some target number).
It especially doesn’t help now that there is legislation requiring state departments use a variety of disadvantaged business, not just the few tried and true. This is important because, frankly, most disadvantaged businesses are not particularly responsive. Another roadblock are procurement vehicles. Although we are huge advocates of the Small Business Option, some items are simply easier to get on the Enterprise Technology Contract, off SLP, or on a CMAS contract. A large number of purchases are made on the ETC and SLP contracts especially, and these contracts have strict limits on the number of resellers on their contracts. That means you already have to be a well-known small business at the state, and you’re still going to be extremely limited by the number of disadvantaged resellers you can use.
I could write an entire essay on the problems related to disadvantaged businesses when it comes to procurement. It’s both difficult to be a SB/DVBE, and it’s difficult to be in procurement trying to hit certain numbers with limited options and resources. That being said, complaining about these issues isn’t nearly as productive as sharing with you the ways I’ve seen procurement officials truly mobilize disadvantaged business participation positively. What actually works for you and what actually helps us?
Let’s look into the ways that we can actually help one another.
Send along that pitch email (PLEASE)
I send a pitch emails to hundreds upon hundreds of people per month attempting to get our company’s name out there. The most invaluable thing that a person who receives our email can do is to simply send it along. Even if you’re not in procurement, even if you don’t currently have anything on your plate. We’ve had people reach out to us because they remembered our email from months back, and now need to handle that one subscription coming up for renewal. Forwarding our information along to other purchasers or those in IT is extremely helpful.
Reach out to us far in advance
If you are looking into buying something months down the line, ask now. This gives us plenty of time to get partnered, get the best possible pricing for you, and get organized. This especially rings true if you’re looking into alternatives, looking to add-on more licenses, etc. It also helps us get our LPA in order in advance. Budgetary quotes for the win!
I feel really bad about lambasting you with emails. If you aren’t the right person for the job, then just let us know you aren’t the right person and direct us to the correct person. We’re working on less information than the big guys in certain cases, and we aren’t intentionally trying to bombard you. If you are the right person, but don’t have anything on your plate, responding to our “reminder” emails lets us know that we should check-in again in the future just in case anything has changed
“Take a Chance on Me” – Feat ABBA
We’ll pretty much take a shot at anything you put in front of us. If you’re trying to buy 1 headset, we’ll provide you with a quote. Looking for some obscure printer? We’ll go to hell and back again to try and find it. Trying to purchase a million licenses from some software company based in San Jose? We’ll try that too. One of the things we pride ourselves on most over at Acuity is our determination when it comes to find a product or working out complex RFQs. We know that the items you order are being ordered for a purpose. If it’s a mouse, someone really needs that mouse! There’s nothing too low or too high for our team to aim for. We just ask for the chance to take a swing at it.
Include the EU Info + Invoice Info in the PO
I’m not going to call anyone out, but we routinely receive purchase orders that have incorrect end user information and/or do not include the correct email address for software delivery. This can cause major, major complications, especially since, as a small business, cash flow is always an issue that is top of mind. Make sure to specify where you want the licenses delivered when sending us the PO to make sure the transaction goes smoothly.
Share your Rep
Have you been working with a company for a few months on a quote? Send us the contact information of the person you’ve been working with when sending over the RFQ. This makes it easier for everyone in the long run because there is no chance of your request getting messed up. In addition, that person understands how the State of California has to make purchases, and the point of using a small business. Sharing the information of whoever you’ve been working with streamlines the process significantly.
These are a few things you can do to help us help YOU. We are incredibly appreciative of you choosing to work with our state certified small business!