How System Integrators Can Overcome Federal Contract Challenges

How System Integrators Can Overcome Federal Contract Challenges

In 2021, over 93% of system integration providers announced plans to increase their workforce. Out of that figure, nearly 79% found the need to hire more staff to deal with the increased volume of work. 

Why? Because systems integrators deal with large contracts where the headcount demands are high. This is especially the case for federal system integrators dealing with US government contracts. Contracts are significant and the requirements are non-negotiable.

The staffing challenge is most complex when the required staff are tech workers. Right now, the tech industry is suffering from one of the worst talent gaps in recent history. Almost 65% of IT executives rank a shortage in skilled tech workers as among their biggest roadblocks.

How can federal system integrators overcome their hiring challenges, in a fierce and competitive market?

The Challenges (and Frustrations) of A System Integrator

Systems integrators specialize in building computing systems for a client, working with software, hardware, and various storage products. They integrate cost-effective, preconfigured components and commercial stock software to create specialized systems capable of meeting key business goals – rather than fully tailored, more expensive implementations built using uniquely manufactured components.

SIs are constantly competing with each other to secure lucrative federal IT contracts. To stand out from the competition, and give themselves the best chance of landing deals, SIs need to address the following challenges:

1. Finding the Right Talent

A major challenge for federal system integrators is finding tech talent with the requisite expertise and experience to fill mission-critical positions. Oliver Forsyth from IHS Markit summarizes this very well, explaining how the successful marriage of hardware and software – important for SI staff – requires people who have a deep understanding of the technology involved.

“It’s hard for an outside player to get into that, because they need to understand that level of hardware, which you may only understand if you’ve built that hardware from the ground up,” Forsyth explained.

Quality of staff is critical, especially when fulfilling federal projects that have very unique specifications and requirements. Typically, federal IT contracts have very unique specifications and requirements, and implementing agencies must strictly adhere to what’s specified in the contract.

To address this need for quality candidates whose skills and experience match project needs, many IT organizations have made the shift from degree-based hiring to skills-based hiring. Tech companies such as IBM and Oracle lead this trend, where positions requiring degrees have been reduced to 29% and 26% respectively. Though other technology companies differ; Apple and Google have more than 70% of IT vacancies requiring a college degree.

2. Intense Talent Competition in Tech Industry

Another challenge for federal system integrators is attracting excellent talent that may be tempted to go elsewhere. Because unemployment in the tech sector is very low at 1.3%, it is very likely the right people for the job already have a job – and may be comparing federal IT contracts to private sector contracts.

Recent studies have found that 69% of corporations in the US, including top tech employers, struggle to land top talent because of intense competition with other firms. 4 out of 10 tech firms admit having retention challenges as other organizations lure their employees with better job offers and substantial pay.

On top of the growing demand for talent, tech organizations are having trouble filling roles with specific skills in emerging areas and hiring individuals with the right soft skills.

SIs that bid for federal contracts are well aware of these pressures. Faster deployment accelerates time to value, impacting the enterprise’s revenue and bottom line. But, sometimes they can’t source talents quickly enough for their contracts.

3. Meeting DEI Requirements

Recent studies and statistics indicate DEI’s positive impact on business organizations. According to EY, organizations with strong DEI initiatives experience an improved ability to attract and retain top talent. Diverse organizations also see employees be more engaged than ever, leading to increased productivity, innovation, and profitability.

Many federal bodies now have strict DEI requirements. And the staffing side is impacted too; 67% of job applicants consider diversity in the workforce in choosing an employer.

But while 43% of tech companies have announced plans to start DEI initiatives, the reality is that 30% of employees in tech organizations such as system integrators say they don’t have DEI programs or are struggling to reach their DEI goals.

This can create major blockers when it comes time to compete for a federal IT contract.

What Systems Integrators Need

These staffing challenges hamper almost all federal system integrators, and impede their ability to qualify for federal contracts bids. In the face of these challenges, SIs need to overhaul their staffing processes. Above all, SIs need to find staffing solutions that:

  • Can source talent quickly and with consideration to the specific needs of their clients;
  • Are able to support DEI requirements;
  • Offer personnel that are trained a standard where they can be trusted to represent the brand of the company well;
  • Can provide the attributes they need to win large and competitive deals;
  • Can be fully-trusted to deliver what is required of them;
  • Are cost-effective.

Addressing Federal Contract Needs with Smoothstack

Federal system integrators work in tech-intensive environments where everything is mission-critical and every second counts. Thus, when new hires are known to have the requisite skill set and experience, they are far easier to introduce into a project. 

Introducing the right talent with the right skills – people who can quickly grasp their roles and achieve full performance output faster – is crucial for the success of federal (and other large-scale) contracts.

With talent job-ready on day one, SIs can deliver work that is top quality without any slowdown. Smoothstack delivers precisely this.

With Smoothstack, your firm has access to a large pool of qualified talent to keep your pipelines filled and moving. This means being able to build a competent workforce that’s ready to take on projects and deliver them based on granular specifications.

In contrast to traditional staff augmentation approaches, Smoothstack enables partners to quickly ramp-up projects by onboarding skilled talent in bulk, thereby reducing vacancy rates and increasing revenue. This is especially valuable in situations that require a large volume of resources with skills in nascent and in-demand technologies.

Smoothstack custom-selects and trains consistently high quality, niche talent through proprietary vetting and immersive training. This quickly reduces vacancy rates and drives increased revenue. We also deliver wide support for emerging and in-demand technologies

A systems integrator won a large piece of business at a large federal agency and needed to scale rapidly with additional skilled Microsoft developers, otherwise unavailable through traditional channels. The client needed highly technical personnel on a compressed timeline. Smoothstack successfully delivered. 

The client and Smoothstack successfully piloted an innovative bulk review & selection process to accelerate time-to-market, eliminating the need for 1:1 interviews, and saving approx 14 hours of screening per cohort. The client reported the approach to be a “great success” and acquired 10 new MSFT resources that have since been trained and deployed.

Smoothstack effectively addresses the unique staffing requirements of federal system integrators. With access to a pool of highly qualified engineers and developers, enterprises can quickly fill in mission-critical posts and achieve business targets within specified timeframes. This translates to a solid stream of revenue, manifested by more deals or seats to existing projects.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help system integrators face the challenges of federal contracts.

Let’s Build Your Team

Connect with the Smoothstack team to learn how to close your digital skills gap with a custom-trained team.