Vaeros Implements Process to Track New Business Opportunities

Ed Swallow discusses the Customer Relationship Management system with Vaeros staff. (Photo: Nicole LaBier)

When Aerospace announced launch of its new division, Vaeros, in July 2015, it signaled the beginning of a new phase for the corporation in terms of providing value to a broader set of customers.

To bring that value to the customers, Vaeros needed to reinvent its core business development process, identify areas where it could streamline its efforts, and reduce the cost of going to market. The Vaeros leadership team developed a long-term strategy to more closely align with the core business of Aerospace. Vaeros then revised its business processes to help it identify, track, and investigate new areas of business aligned to its four lines of business for NASA and Civil Space, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Programs, Federal Civil and Homeland Security, and Commercial.

Once the strategy and organizational alignment occurred, Vaeros needed to standardize its go-to-market processes. The core of that process is automated in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, now fully in place. CRM helps Aerospace interact with current and future customers and manage, track, record, and store customer information related to the new business capture process, while providing an end-to-end workflow tool to speed the decision-making and increase accountability for resources spent.

CRM’s main components are building and managing customer relationships through analyzing markets, developing relationships as they mature through distinct phases, and managing the process at each stage, automating where possible.

“Quite simply, this tool gives all Vaeros’employees who are directly involved with the pursuit, capture, and management of non-federally funded research and development center business opportunities a step-by-step tracking or work-flow system from business lead or idea to agreement to pursue the venture to awarding a contract,” said Cindy Holsclaw, business administrative specialist, Business Development, Vaeros.

Holsclaw has served as project manager for CRM’s implementation.

Users must provide information for each phase of a proposed project through a gated review process, answering questions along the way such as project description, customer needs, and points of contact for the particular company or entity involved, explained Holsclaw.

As the user completes each phase of the project, the system takes them to the next one following a decisional gate review. There are six phases to get through before an opportunity becomes a new contract. These phases are: Market Analysis, Opportunity Assessment, Capture Planning, Proposal Planning, Proposal, and Execution.

“The new system even allows for the Air Force, Aerospace’s primary customer, to be notified when Vaeros is considering pursuing a particular business opportunity,” she said. “This gives the Air Force the chance to review the information and determine if there are benefits to the DOD customer or any concerns with conflict of interest before we proceed.”

“Although it takes some time and effort to get through the process, it’s more cost effective to run through the evaluation before investing in a project only to have it prove to be misaligned with our business pursuits or not feasible for some other reason,” said Ed Swallow, Vaeros Operations vice president. “This is a highly effective way to examine possible business opportunities before expending a lot of our resources on them,” he added.

This system is part of the OurSpace environment and replaces the legacy databases — Civil and Commercial Projects Plans and Organizational Conflict of Interest, both hosted on Lotus Notes — that were used by Vaeros’ predecessor, Civil and Commercial Operations.

The new CRM system provides the team with complete oversight into all that is happening within the Vaeros new business capture team. All project-related documents are kept in a SharePoint folder with permissions granted according to team assignments and corresponding responsibilities.

“Since implementation, we’ve been able to make significant progress in clearly mapping out a variety of possible business ventures. This is key to Vaeros’ business development and a positive step in the direction we need to be heading,” said Holsclaw.

The CRM system is just one example of using Enterprise Information Services capabilities to standardize, document, streamline, and automate processes for the most efficient way of deploying resources to bring in new work. It also provides the ability for everyone to see potential new business, collaborate on solutions, and identify new capabilities for existing customers.

“As the cost of winning business goes down, and our ability to expand business into areas of interest to our scientists and engineers go up, we will make Vaeros the engine for increasing our value to our core customers while improving the financial health of the corporation,” said Swallow.

—Kimberly Locke