Time to Renew: How to Approach Re-Engaging With Partners

The New Year is an opportunity for government to think about which contracts should be renewed, and plan for innovation. Here are 10 steps for governments and their partners to get the most from these relationships.

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Here we are in 2021 and the lasting effects of 2020 have not gone away. In years past, ringing in the new year was a sort of new beginning. Everything would start anew while government technologists took a breath and looked to the year ahead.

And while this new year is different, it is still an opportunity to reflect on what worked and consider innovative approaches that will work going forward. 2020 taught the world what it was like to pivot on a moment’s notice. Will 2021 require the same pivot? Will governments need partners in 2021 like they did in 2020? Is it the time to renew these essential relationships? At the Center for Digital Government, we have been having conversations with government technology professionals and partners about what it will take to strengthen relationships in the new year.

Government contracting is not an easy process, but it is set up to ensure that public dollars are spent the right way. Transparency and process has often outranked speed, but that shifted in 2020 with the need to buy fast and rapidly deploy. Will that trend continue? Will the renewal of partner contracts revert to a methodical, transparent process or will the lessons learned from the recent shifts bring about permanent changes? Here, we've broken the renewal process down into ten segments for governments and partners to ponder in 2021. 

GOVERNMENTS

1. Build relationships by engaging in conversations and doing necessary research.

2. Assess current contracts to determine term end and prepare for renewals.

3. Assess current projects and contracts to prepare for contract negotiations.

4. Gather requirements to ensure current contracts include language to fulfill needs.

5. Initiate conversations with partners to explain needs and contract changes.

6. Build in enough lead time to ensure renewals can be completed in a timely fashion.

7. Provide the proper resources to move discussions and negotiations with speed and accuracy.

8. Engage with approval process early to ensure a timely decision and ratification.

9. Most importantly, get to know each other to establish and build the relationship based on trust.

10. Get it done as a partner!

PARTNERS

1. Build relationships by engaging in conversations and doing necessary research.

2. Proactively inform governments on contract term end dates.

3. Proactively review government technology plans to anticipate current and future needs.

4. Prepare acceptable language to ensure renewals include current and future needs.

5. Engage in conversations to ensure all needs are identified and quantified. Introduce innovation.

6. Engage with enough lead time to ensure renewals can be completed in a timely fashion.

7. Provide the proper resources to move discussions and negotiations with speed and accuracy.

8. Understand process and approvals for all agreements and understand timing.

9. Most importantly, get to know each other to establish and build the relationship based on trust.

10. Get it done as a partner!

These ten segments are not the end all, be all, but they are positive steps toward planning for renewals in a timely and efficient way. Procurement processes were developed to ensure that governments have a fair, transparent and structured way to buy the things they need to do their business. Renewals are part of that much-needed structure and should be just as carefully planned for as the buying process itself. Both governments and partners must understand the important roles that they play in the development of contracts that provide for current needs but also innovate and expand the capability of technology on behalf of the citizens and business that they mutually serve.

2021 is a new year which brings opportunity and hope. Author John W. Gardner said “Renewal is not just innovation and change. It is also the process of bringing the results of change into line with our purposes.” Start 2021 with a spirit of renewal and remember, this is a new year that we can address with optimism and enthusiasm. We are here to help.