General Advice

Winning Government Contracts and Steering the Future

BooksBudget reductions at government agencies can heighten competition for federal contracts. Old programs are discontinued; departments are restructured; experienced workers leave, jeopardizing existing relationships. What expertise do you offer potential agency partners, and what are the terms that will define how that partnership works? Understanding contract types can help you level the playing field for your business and aid you in winning contracts and developing business relationships that last.

A recent article published by the Department of Defense offers some great insights into pending budget cuts and restructuring. Moving forward, the government will be looking for specialists in smaller quantities. A contract with single-digit full time equivalents may not offer a high enough payout for large companies seeking scale and high price to offset their costs. The small and nimble company may be just what some agencies are looking for. Being nimble means you make it look easy — and making it look easy means you’ve done your homework.

Are you ready for the “road less traveled” of specialized, smaller-scale projects? Understanding contracting needs and procedures can get you running at top speed down this road.

Four Ways of Getting There

Companies like Viderity — agile, able to structure and execute projects with continuity, speed, and precision (and leap white marble buildings in a single bound!) — often top the list of competitors for government contracts. Let’s review a few contract types that we typically see:

  • Firm Fixed Price
  • Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity
  • Professional and Administrative Services Support
  • Time & Material

A Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contract provides stability for both parties. The government receives flexible expertise, while the vendor is assured of adequate money—which vendors tend to appreciate! All fees are rolled up into direct labor rates. Well-defined deliverables are advertised and may include Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) as part of the requirement. FTEs are sometimes used to determine the best price for a project; using FTEs also helps to calculate how many employees it would take to meet contract obligations.  FFPs allow for adequate price competition, reasonable price comparisons, and realistic estimates. This type of contract can streamline the source selection process. FFPs are governed by Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 16.2.

The Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract acts as a control for potential individual task orders. Details of the contract are specified by Technical Objectives for precise needs delivered during a defined period of time. This contract provides delivery control and is great for quick, short-suspense requirements. A Task Order (TO) can be derived from the IDIQ to support specific labor categories or specific services.

Professional and Administrative Services Support contracts set terms for program management and administration. Contractors are experts, highly skilled and knowledgeable in specific labor categories, e.g., IT Specialist, Program Manager, etc.

Time & Material (T&M) contracts assist requirement holders when they are uncertain of extent, duration of work, or costs involved. The default to use for cost projection would be the labor hour at a specific fixed hourly rate.

Who You’re Working For

As you navigate the details, it’s easy to lose sight of what this work is really all about. Get familiar with “The Basics of Government Contracting,” if you’re not already. Study the agency you’re hoping to work with. It’s surprising how many companies come in unprepared, focused only on their own needs and not on those of their potential partners.

It may sound old-fashioned, but government contractors are supposed to serve the public interest! Approach each contract as if it were your first, with the care and precision taxpayers deserve. For Viderity, on any road we’ve traveled, that has made all the difference.

The Performance Review Checklist

Performance-review A performance review is one of the best tools a manager has to fine tune the performance of subordinates. A performance review is a regularly scheduled recap of the day-to-day engagements between managers  and employees. It should always include a plan, large or small, for the employee’s continued professional growth. A performance review is not about money. Raises are about money.

A performance review is not about filling out forms. Audits and inspections are about filling out forms. The review – or appraisal – is about feedback. It is a conversation about how much meaning and purpose a manager can create with an employee. No performance review can be successful unless the manager has already given good feedback and direction regularly throughout the year, making assessments and adjustments along the way, and building rapport and confidence with the employee. Only then can it all be successfully summarized into a concise review. In other words, the review itself is the culmination of the interactions between the manager and the employee throughout the year.  If a manager is saving things up for a year to spring on an employee all at once, well, that’s a performance review that won’t be helpful. In fact, it could probably do more harm than good. Do you know the vital steps to take before conducting an employee performance review? They’re at least as important as the steps you take during the review. With that in mind, here is a six-part checklist that covers all vital phases of the pre-review.

1. Hold periodic informal feedback sessions.
Your best bet for accomplishing this is to mark your calendar with dates and notes such as “Hold a ‘how ya doing’ talk with Hank” to remind you periodically throughout the year to sit down with employees to discuss their performance – outside the formal appraisal setup. That promotes a “no surprises” environment when you do the actual face-to-face appraisal later on. These informal talks create “check-up” points along the way, and help keep the manager and the employee focused on the worker’s development.

2. Keep a record of the informal sessions.
Nothing fancy, but try to keep notes of what was said, what was agreed upon and when you talked. Notes like that can help resolve disputes that might come up later during the formal review. This kind of documentation will allow you to respond with comments like, “When we talked in August, you said …”

3. Standardize your evaluation criteria as much as possible.
If you have two or more employees doing similar jobs, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the same standards to judge their performance – whether it’s straight productivity numbers, quality levels, revenue generation or other measurable criteria. The reasons for standardizing are threefold:
* It’ll make your life easier, in that you won’t have to reinvent the wheel for every review. You’ll have a predetermined set of standards that you can use each time.
* It’ll make more sense to your employees. They’ll have a clear understanding of what’s required and what they’re being judged on.
* It’ll help avoid lawsuits and charges of favoritism or discrimination. The main cause of complaints is fuzzy measurement. If Employee A thinks he’s being held to a different set of standards than Employee B, expect Employee A to complain – to a lawyer, in some instances.

4. Study the employee’s previous performance review.
Were goals laid out? Were promises made? Did subsequent events change any of the employee’s circumstances since the last review? It’s important to familiarize yourself with all of the components of the previous review, especially if the review was done by another manager. You don’t want to be caught off-guard or appear to be unaware of major agreements or problems.

5. Ask the employee to do a write-up of accomplishments.
Some people may expect you to remember everything. Fact is you can’t. No one can. That’s where the employee’s write-up, or “self evaluation,” comes in handy. You’ll (a) get a reminder of what the employee has accomplished since the last review and (b) have a basis for comparing your evaluation and resolving differences. The last thing you want is to walk into a review and get surprised by the idea that the two of you have totally different views on what happened since the last review.

6. Talk to customers, relevant co-workers and other points of contact for the employee.
Just about every employee does tasks that go unnoticed by a supervisor. It’s unavoidable, and no supervisor can be expected to know and see everything. A supervisor is, however, expected to do a little  legwork to learn as much as possible about the employee. Did she, without being asked or recognized, help out another employee with a difficult project? Did she go the extra mile for an important customer? As a responsible supervisor, you’ll want to find out about those instances. And the more you can find about, the better. Multiple sources will give you a better balanced view, rather than relying on one source who says the employee is great – or terrible.



Prior to the meeting

  • Identify a time and date that is mutually convenient. Avoid re-scheduling!
  • Reserve a private place free from phone calls and interruptions!
  • Get employee input on his/her accomplishments, concerns, goals.
  • (Optional) Get employee-provided list of references: co-workers, customers, etc.
  • Seek input from those who interact and work directly with employee.
  • Review and compare performance: expectations versus actual.
  • Review skills, work experience, training/future training needs.
  • List major positive and negative incidents (Be specific, do not generalize).
  • Determine strengths and weaknesses.
  • Prepare and prioritize a tentative development plan.
  • Establish meeting objectives/agenda.

Conducting the meeting

  • Establish an open and positive climate.
  • Review the purpose of the review – Goal setting and problem solving.
  • Discuss performance goals and achievements.
  • Discuss strength and competencies, areas of potential growth.
  • Discuss area of development/opportunity/formal training (if any).
  • Encourage employee response.
  • Seek agreement on appropriate goals, development and timetable.
  • Summarize the meeting. If it is positive, end on a positive note. If it is not
  • positive, reinforce what must occur and set clear deadlines for
  • improvement/consequences.

Meeting follow-up

  • Prepare a formal, written review document.
  • Get employee signature, agreement.
  • File copies in personnel file, HR file.
  • Provide copy to employee.


12 Questions To Ask Your Clients Before and After a Project

Getting to know your client is an important part of determining if you’re a right fit for the project. Not Question only that, but you should always ask questions before-hand to compile information that you will later use to accurately design a website or logo for them. Wef you quote a client for a project without knowing what it truly entails, then you’re setting yourself up for the possibility of loosing valuable time and money.

Now we know that asking questions before you begin a project is vital, but what about after you’ve completed a project? Although this may seem somewhat insignificant it’s actually an important step to finalizing the completion and delivery of your project. Below you will find various questions that you can ask your client, even though you may not use every single question, make sure you select the ones you believe both you and your client will benefit the most from.

Questions to Ask Before You Begin a Project
Generally these questions are asked before you begin a project, however, you can also ask some of these mid-way through your project as well. Analyze your clients answers and get to work with the information you’ve put together.

1. What Does Your Organization Do and How Do You Do It?

This is an important question because it’s the first step towards getting to know your customer’s business structure. Wet will help you assess the company’s needs in terms of relative design, and it is also a gateway for strategic brainstorming.

2. What are your five biggest challenges?

Ask about the client’s overall challenges—beyond the immediate subject at hand. By getting a sense of the larger challenges facing your client, you can be prepared to offer insights and draw connections that the client might have missed.

3. What are your five biggest opportunities?

Find out what the client is truly excited about! Where are some interesting new growth areas for the client’s business? What are some new trends shaping the marketplace? What are some of the most compelling new developments that the client has in store?

4. What keeps you up at night?

Connect with the client’s challenges on a visceral level. What is it that keeps this client from getting a good night’s sleep? What are the “worst-case scenarios” that this client might be confronting? If you phrase the question in these stark terms, you might help prompt the client to answer with greater candor and specificity, allowing you to help your client focus in on the biggest problem areas.

5. What is Your Typical Customer Like?

This question will help you get a better idea of what the company comprises of. Wes the typical customer foreign to the market your client targets? How does the client interact with its customers? Does the typical customer speak a different language? These questions are vital to the aesthetics and/or usability of your design. Wef you were designing a logo for example, and your clients typical customer doesn’t speak your clients language, then you would have to make sure the logo is able to communicate effectively on a further level.

6. What Is Your Target Audience?

Different from what the typical customer is like, you must have a deep understanding of what audience your client is currently trying to target. Maybe their trying to steer away from their typical clients and move into a different niche, or your client is looking to redefine and expand their customer base, whether one or the other it doesn’t matter, knowing exactly what audience your client is aiming to target is key to the development and success of your design.

7. Do You Have Any Competitors, if so, How Do You Differ?

Although this may have an obvious answer (if you’ve done a fair amount of research) you should still ask this question to get a feel of what THE Client believes is their competition. More than likely they have a much better idea of who their competing with. Knowing your clients competitors will allow you to rule out any similarities between all of their existent designs. This will help you create a more unique and centric design for your client.

8. How Often Would You Like Me to Update You With Progress?

You don’t want to come off as annoying or dependent of your client for your every move. This question will help you align with your clients wants and update them only when they want to be updated. Excessive updates can easily discourage a client from using your services in the future.

9. How Do You Envision the Finished Project?

If you’re designing a website then it’s important to ask your client what THEY intend to use their website for, and how they envision it will look like. What good would it do if you were to complete a project only to find out it doesn’t do any of the things your client intended for it, or it doesn’t behave the way your client had thought it would?

Questions to Ask After a Project’s Complete
These questions can be asked right before your deliver your project, or immediately after it’s complete. The purpose of the following questions to make the transition from the beginning of the project to its completion as smooth as possible.

10. How Satisfied Are You With the Results?

This question will help you analyze the quality of your skills and how well you’re able to develop a design based on what your client needs. As you advance in your career, you’ll have plenty of chance to improve your skills, this question will create a chance for you do just that.

11. Do You Plan on Having Any Revisions and Updates Done to This Project?

Ask this question to avoid frustrations that can easily arise if a client believes they can abuse of you by excessively asking for changes and further revisions free of charge. Wef your client plans on having you heavily revise and make several changes to a project, then this question will allow you both to agree on a reasonable fee you may collect for additional services.

12. How Well Would You Rate Our Services?

Similar to the question asking your client how satisfied they are with the results, this question will allow you to assess and improve the quality of your services. This plays an important role in the succession of your business.

Zen Leadership

If you master Zen you’ll be a great leader. But if you study Zen just to become a great leader you’ll never master it. – August TurakZen

The practice of Zen in both business and daily life is centered on the paradoxical acceptance above. As instinctually conflicting as it may seem, to truly be a great leader you must release yourself of your innate desire to lead. We no longer live in a world where the business model of leadership is intimidation, and seeing oneself as the all-controlling dictator will only lead to failing performances of your employees. Demands and thre

ats only create fear and sub-par work. If someone is only concerned about being ‘adequate’ enough to maintain their position, then they will never have those singular breakthroughs that occur when they are genuinely interested in the success of the business.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to brew up some green tea and roll out the yoga mats though. Zen leadership simply means that the success and well-being of the entire team has to come before your own personal needs. Experiential wisdom should be the driving force in your organization’s growth, rather than a focus on theoretical knowledge and pre-formulated business models. You need to be willing to grow, adapt, and expand right along with your staff. Here are the 10 Keys to Zen Leadership that will help reveal the potential Steve Jobs inside us all.

1) Lead by Example

– Make sure that you personally are living up to the same expectations you have in others. If you insist on punctuality and enthusiasm, then you too need to be on-time and excited in order for others to live up to your requests. No matter how loud you may talk, people will always be more apt to do as you do then as you say.

2) Communicate Clearly

– You want everybody on board to have the same vision of objectives and success that you do. If Bill Lumberg taught us anything in Office Space, it’s that silence will get you nowhere. On the flip-side, you also don’t want to over-complicate things with too much information. Be clear and as simple as possible. Honesty is essential, as you don’t want anyone to think you are trying to manipulate them in any way.

3) Encourage Constructive Argument

– Allow for open debate and questioning within your personnel. Not only does vocalized disagreement lead to potential problems being resolved before they happen, but it also alleviates any potential angst between co-workers. People should feel free and willing to discuss issues with one another.

4) Accept Input and Welcome Change

– It should be as easy as possible for persons to give you feedback – both personal and business related. You should have an open channel for any and all comments, and you can not have any fear in potentially revising your vision. The best idea you haven’t thought of may come from the most unexpected employee, and they should not be deterred in any way from expressing their concept. Always believe in the potentiality of someone coming up with a better or more-efficient plan.

5) Give Credit and Acknowledge Others

– Never let anyone doubt that they aren’t an essential member of the team. Acknowledging everyone’s addition to the project, no matter how menial the task, will only improve enthusiasm and work-output from all angles. Do this throughout the course of a project, not just at completion. If praise is lavished upon you, then redirect it to people for whom the credit is actually do. Show pride in your team, while remembering there is no shame in being overly humble.

6) Review and Adjust – Don’t Rank and Punish

– If a goal wasn’t met, then figure out what errors occurred and how they can be resolved. Punishing someone for mistakes will only make them fear thinking out of the box again. Finding the problem and making the necessary adjustments will not only prevent a repeat of the error, but will promote further expansion of new ideas.

7) Have a Clear Vision of Defeat

– Make sure to have a clear understanding of what the warning signs are for a potential disaster. Rather then deny any occurring down-slope, recognize any happening failures before they completely fall apart. Don’t be afraid to start again from the beginning.

8) Be Willing To Adapt

– Feel no necessary commitment to previous business models. Evolution is constant and more rapid than ever – feeling that you need to stick with only one game-plan will result in you losing out to newer and upgraded networks. If there’s an easier way to do something, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t make things more complex than they need to be.

9) Relinquish Power

Your goal as a Zen leader is to enable your team to operate successfully without you. Levels of trust should be utilized for maximum output from your employees. You should feel secure in your people’s abilities, and be confident enough to delegate more responsibility once they are prepared. An appreciation for worker’s efforts will make them want to live up to the confidence you hold in them, and subsequently create a desire within them to do as much as they can for the team.

10) The Zen Leader is In All of Us

– Forget the notion of being a ‘natural born’ leader. The true Zen leader can arise from any and all of us. When leading through Zen, you are not controlling a group of people but rather uniting a group in a way that brings out the full potential of what their combined efforts may produce. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the Zen leader has the delicate vision to know how to correctly add them up. The humble desire for the overall success of the greater good is the first and most important step. Once these notions are realized, the beneficial ramifications, both business and personal, are vast and expansive.

Thank You Letters

Thanks Writing a thank you letter is a common courtesy. There are various times when writing a thank you letter is appropriate – anything from a formal, post-interview thank you letter to a casual, from the heart thanks to the person you went above and beyond to make a project a success. Writing a thank you letter will always serve as a kind and conscientious gesture.

A thank you letter demonstrates thoughtfulness, which is a characteristic many employers and people value. Since so few take the time to write a thank you letter, someone who does will indeed be remembered. Your thank you letter does not need to be lengthy. Just a few kind words will show that you put some time and thought into your message.

Please click here for some free sample thank you letters covering a variety of situations.

Leadership for Those Who Remain

After layoffs it’s difficult yet important for managers to maintain high morale anJoined handsd productivity for the  remaining. Their collective head is
spinning with fear and anxiety that you need to replace with confidence. It’s important to:

  • Stress the fact that the layoffs were not a reflection of the performance of the staff who were laid off.
  • Be open and available  assist with reprioritizing and rebalancing workloads among the remaining staff.
  • Focus on addressing relevant employee concerns and how the company will move forward.
  • Keep the programs and initiatives that serve to align employees and provide a return on investment. Examples include celebrating success and the achievement of milestones at a company and individual level.

Read “On the case: Go team! Pretty please?” for ideas on how to boost employee morale after a series of layoffs.

Typing a Business Letter in Full Block Format


Full block format is used for formal business letters. This format is
characterized by the fact that every line starts at the left margin. None of
the lines of type are centered, or on the right. The only exception is in the
case of a pre-printed company letterhead. Full block format would be a great
format to use if you were to write a letter of resignation, a professional
thank you letter, a letter of recommendation, or perhaps resume a cover

is an explanation of each line in the letter:

  1. Return Address:  If your stationery has a
    letterhead, skip this. Otherwise, type your name, address and optionally,
    phone number. These days, it’s common to also include an  email address.
  2. Date: Type the date of your letter two to six lines
    below the letterhead. Three are standard. If there is no letterhead, type
    it where shown.
  3. Reference Line: If the recipient specifically requests
    information, such as a  job reference or invoice number, type it on one or
    two lines, immediately below the Date (2). If you’re replying to a
    letter, refer to it here. For example,
  • Re: Job # 625-01
  • Re: Your letter dated 1/1/200x.
  1. Inside Address: 
    Type the name and address of the person and/or company to whom you’re
    sending the letter, three to eight lines below the last component you
    typed. Four lines are standard. If you type an Attention Line (7),
    skip the person’s name here. Do the same on the envelope.
  2. Attention Line: Type
    the name of the person to whom you’re sending the letter. If you type the
    person’s name in the Inside Address (6), skip this. Do the same on
    the envelope.
  3. Salutation: Type the
    recipient’s name here. Type Mr. or Ms. [Last Name] to show respect, but
    don’t guess spelling or gender. Some common salutations are

    • Ladies:
    • Gentlemen:
    • Dear Sir:
    • Dear Sir or Madam:
    • Dear [Full Name]:
    • To Whom it May Concern:
  4. Subject Line: Type the
    gist of your letter in all uppercase characters, either flush left or
    centered. Be concise on one line. If you type a Reference Line (3),
    consider if you really need this line. While it’s not really necessary for
    most employment-related letters, examples are below.

  5. Body: Type two spaces
    between sentences. Keep it brief and to the point.
  6. Complimentary Close:
    What you type here depends on the tone and degree of formality. For

    • Respectfully yours (very formal)
    • Sincerely (typical, less formal)
    • Very truly yours (polite, neutral)
    • Cordially yours (friendly, informal)
  7. Signature Block: Leave
    four blank lines after the Complimentary Close (11) to sign your
    name. Sign your name exactly as you type it below your signature. Title is
    optional depending on relevancy and degree of formality. Examples are

    • John Doe, Manager
    • P. Smith
      Director, Technical Support
    • R. T. Jones – Sr. Field Engineer


  • Readability
    of a business letter body depends on the chosen font. The generally
    accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as
    Arial may be used.
  • Try
    to keep your letters to one page, if your letter
    requires more than
    one page all of the salutation and signature items would go on the second
    page at the end of the letter.
  • How
    many blank lines you add between lines that require more than one, depends
    on how much space is available on the page
  • The
    same goes for margins. One and one-half inch (108 points) for short
    letters and one inch (72 points) for longer letters are standard. If there
    is a letterhead, its position determines the top margin on page 1.
  • If
    you do not type one of the more for
    mal components, do not leave
    space for them. For example, if you do not type the Reference Line (3),
    Special Mailing Notations (4)
    and On-Arrival Notations (5),
    type the Inside Address (6) four lines below the Date (2).


Business Letter Templates

Viderity offers a large collection of business letters
written by business professionals to help you achieve your desired message when
writing business letters. The letters will give you and your company a
professional image.  View
our Business
Letters Kit

About ProjectPerfect


ProjectPerfect is an online journal devoted to sharing insights on project management activities, tools, and deliverables. The information presented is aimed at helping professionals make better decisions for their projects and their careers. ProjectPerfect is a companion publication to and is authored by Viderity Inc.


Viderity’s website offers project management templates that can help you work more efficiently and effectively. Viderity’s easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank template format streamlines the creation of project documents and works with Word and Excel. With over 60 professionally designed templates based on proven industry best practices, Viderity offers the most comprehensive project management templates on the web.



Viderity Inc.

Viderity, headquartered in Washington, DC, U.S.A. is a leading e-media agency that focuses on the strategic application of information technology to successfully complete projects. As part of our practice, we create and sell electronic products including our premier project management templates that save professionals time and money and improve their results.