By Brett Housholder
Program Manager, PTAC
One thing you learn very quickly when you jump into the world of government contracting is that, much like patience, organization is a virtue. There are several websites you'll need to familiarize yourself with and potentially multiple invoicing systems that different agencies use, not to mention usernames and passwords unique to each system or website, all with different requirements for combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters.
Let's do a quick example to illustrate this point. The two absolute requirements for government contracting are a DUNS Number and a System for Award Management (SAM) registration. So that's two websites, usernames, and passwords right away. If you're going after a certification like a woman-owned small business or HUBZone, you'll need a separate account for the Small Business Administration's General Login System. If you want to invoice for work done for any agency in the Department of Defense or the Department of the Interior, there are two more websites, usernames, and passwords you'll need for those. And these are just a few examples.
It's enough to make your head spin and forget which username goes with which site and which registration needs to be renewed once a year, one every other year, etc. This is where a few minutes on the front end and strong organizational skills will save you a lot of frustration and time. We recommend creating a list from the very beginning that contains the various sites you'll need to remember and a brief description of what role they play in the contracting process (basic registrations, websites to find opportunities, invoicing websites, etc.). Spreadsheets are a convenient way to organize your list. Just make three columns and keep it simple: Name of website/system, the URL, and the purpose of the site.
With cybersecurity becoming an ever increasing concern for businesses and individuals alike, one thing we don't recommend is storing your usernames and passwords in a spreadsheet like this. It may be tempting to put everything together in one place, but a spreadsheet simply isn't secure enough. Thankfully, there are plenty of password managers out there to give you a few options for storing this information in a more secure format.
Bottom line: you'll accumulate many websites, usernames, and passwords that will be easy to confuse or forget. Creating an organized system from day one will save you many headaches as your business starts winning contracts.
When he’s not running marathons and 10Ks across the Western United States, Brett is the Program Manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps Wyoming businesses sell their products and services to the government. Brett is located in our Casper office alongside SBDC teammate Cindy Unger. For any questions about this article or how Brett can help your business learn more about government contracting, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.