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June 20, 2018

The things you do and decisions you make on a daily basis will dictate how you perform during the intense stress of a crisis

First 15TM works because it includes planning and training well in advance of an incident.  You never know if today is going to be “the day,” and you can’t wish yourself out of a crisis.  It is important to be prepared and First 15TM allows you to face your next crisis with confidence. 

First 15TM help organizations establish a culture where every person in the organization is demonstrating and practicing specific behaviors in their daily activities and decision-making processes.  These repetitive behaviors create habits that will not only strengthen the organization but will be the basis upon which it responds to incidents and crises.

These daily behaviors provide people with security and confidence; they then watch over you and your business.  We have researched, cataloged, and defined the following 15 Sentinel Habits that must be practiced daily by leaders a...

June 13, 2018

"All problems become smaller when you confront them instead of dodging them."

                - William F. Halsey, Fleet Admiral, US Navy during World War II

The First 15TM Incident Response System is active from long before an event occurs and continues to remain active until the organization is fully recovered.  The four main phases include

  1. Preparing for a crisis;

  2. Assessing the situation;

  3. Responding to a crisis; and

  4. Recovering from a crisis.

The First 15TM Incident Response System encourages organizations to establish a deliberate planning process in the Preparation phase.  Although the details and complexity of this process will certainly vary between organizations/agencies of different types and sizes, First 15TM provides a prescriptive method to prepare in advance of an incident.  The planning process begins with an innovative and proprietary internal analysis to explore and define the unique e...

June 6, 2018

The decisions you make and the actions you take in the first 15 minutes of an incident will determine the outcome. 

Harkcon Academy is making our world safe, one workplace community at a time.  History shows that it will take at least 5 minutes and maybe as many 15 for first responders to arrive on scene.  Therefore, you must be prepared to do what you can to mitigate the impacts of an incident in your workplace.  Your response must be confident, firm and immediate.  The decisions you make and the actions you take in the first 15 minutes are critical to ensuring your success.

Are you and your organization ready?  You have to start well in advance in building the skills, knowledge, and confidence of your people.  You must embed certain foundational principles into your daily operations and management functions so that you can leverage them during an incident.  Your people must be aware, observant, and proactive. 

First 15TM is a dynamic and tailorable crisis l...

April 12, 2017

By John Knox | Harkcon’s Senior Program Manager

In my January blog post entitled “How to tell the difference between Programs and Projects"

(http://harkcon.blogspot.com/2017/01/how-to-tell-difference-between-programs.html), we discussed the differences between programs versus projects.  Recall the program manager has a broad, strategic view of the entire program and all projects within it, while the project manager is specifically focused on the outcomes of a particular project.  

We will now focus on some key competencies for effective program management.  These are derived from the Levin-Ward Program Management Competency Model, which consists of six performance competencies and eight personal competencies.

Program Management Performance Competencies (derived source: Levin-Ward PgM Competency Model)

The following process focused program management competencies align with the 

PMBOK® Guide

Defining the Program – An effective program manager ensures the program objectives are a...

March 22, 2017

By Jen Emswiler | Harkcon’s Program Control Analyst

How do you control changes to your projects? When there are approved changes within the scope of your project, what are you doing to ensure that these changes are controlled? Rory Burke states, “The project manager must be able to develop a fully integrated information and control system to plan, instruct, monitor and control large amounts of data, quickly and accurately to facilitate the problem-solving and decision-making process.” As project managers we typically have a lot on our plates and are responsible for controlling our projects in regards to the schedule, budget, risk, quality and performance. We understand that projects can experience change at any phase due to internal or external factors and that changes may impact schedules, costs, and resource allocation.

In order to effectively manage project changes we need to understand how to control change while reducing risk and unnecessary disruption to the project. This can be ch...

March 14, 2017

By Ali Waterman | Harkcon’s Financial Specialist

Invoicing can be a tedious process for any company, but there are ways to simplify the process and breeze through it every month. Here are some tips and tricks I use to manage the invoices for Harkcon.

  1. Create an invoice template that can be used across multiple contracts. It will save time when creating new contract invoicing and helps standardize all the invoices. At Harkcon, I have two templates; one for Firm Fixed Price contracts and one for Time and Materials, but the majority of the two templates are the same. I build the templates to automate as much of the process as possible, so I only have to update a handful of sections per month.

  2. Request information from project managers a few days before the end of the month. For many invoices at Harkcon, we have a brief description of work performed for the month. Most project managers can provide this information before the end of the month and when invoicing starts on the 1st of the...

March 9, 2017

By Kristin Ghanem | Harkcon’s Contract Management Specialist 

Government contracts may be set-aside for small businesses who meet the following certification and socio-economic category requirements:

  • 8(a) Business Development

  • HubZone Program

  • Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program

  • Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program

In the next series of posts, we are going to spend some time discussing the basic requirements of each program and the steps you need to take to qualify.

Today we are focusing on the 8(a) Business Development Program.

What is the 8(a) Business Development Program?

The 8(a) Program is an assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses that are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.  It helps thousands of businesses gain access to and traction in government contracting.

The program’s goal is to graduate businesses that will thrive in a competitive environment.  Bec...

March 3, 2017

By Marty Jenkins | Harkcon’s Communications Specialist 

Something totally unforeseen has happened and my marketing plan has stalled! Should I throw out my plan and try again next year? Maybe I will just sweep it under the rug because…eh, I wasn’t that serious about it anyway. After all, it was more of a suggestion! What is the real benefit of following it? It has already started to crumble and fall apart, right? WRONG!

It is in moments like these that you need to firmly immerse yourself in your marketing plan and follow these three steps:

  1. Identify - First, identify what went wrong.  Maybe budget cuts happened, or you did not meet a projected goal, that’s okay. It’s important to identify the error and move on to the next step to fix the error.

  2. Analyze - In life it is important for us to learn from the unexpected, and the same goes for your marketing plan. It is in confrontation with the unforeseen that we grow and learn the most.  In order to learn it is important to analyze...

February 22, 2017

By Brian Roche | Harkcon's Vice President and Director of Harkcon Academy 

Successful local businesses, multi-national corporations, or government agencies are run by senior leaders who excel as visionaries, communicators, and decision makers.  One of the keys to an organization’s success is investment in human resources at or above the level of investment in infrastructure. 

Change is constant.  That applies to all aspects of industry, especially human resources.  Employees and their expectations, skills and abilities are always changing.  Leaders that are resistant to change and refuse to react to changes in their workforce are destined for failure.  An effective team leader must earn each individual’s trust in order to gain their buy in and commitment to the organization.  Ideally, each employee contributes productively to the attainment of the organization’s goals.  Simultaneously, leadership must invest and commit to the team member.  What are the individual goals of...

February 15, 2017

By Ann Martin | Harkcon's Vice President and Business Development Specialist 

So you’ve built your capture plan, done a lot of research and now it’s time to establish or strengthen your relationship with the client staff, specifically the decision makers for the opportunity you are positioning to support. This means scheduling, preparing and conducting a face to face meeting with the client. While email and telephone conversations work well for touch base, establishing a strong relationship and communicating your understanding is greatly enhanced with in person meetings. 

There are a number of key points to remember when meeting with a new federal customer. First and foremost, is knowing what is considered “appropriate” and “inappropriate”. As I’m sure you are aware, you should not give “gifts” of any sort valued at $25 or more (for an entire year!) to any member of the Federal Government. So OK...you can give them one of your nifty pens with the company name on it, but that’...

February 8, 2017

By Jen Emswiler | Harkcon’s Program Control Analyst

By monitoring and maintaining the program control process of your projects you are able to reduce risk, increase accuracy, track project progress, and prevent errors. The program control process provides support through planning, tracking, analysis and reporting throughout the lifecycle of a project. As Project Managers, we use measurements and data to detect if deviations exist.  In the same respect, it is critical to evaluate if the program control process itself is functioning properly in order to ensure accuracy and control of all projects.

If the program control process is operating as planned, Project Managers are able take preventative action to reduce project risks, stay on track and under budget, while keeping all parties informed.

So, how can you easily assess your program control process? Here are four quick ways and questions to ask in evaluating the process to ensure it is running smoothly.

  1. Review The Program Co...

February 1, 2017

By Ali Waterman | Harkcon’s Financial Specialist  

One of the most powerful tools for a finance department is a reliable forecast. The challenge is creating one that you can rely on to make decisions.  Today I’m going to focus on building a revenue forecast and what it takes to make it accurate.

Identify the Revenue you need to Track

At Harkcon, we track three types of revenue; Active Contracts, Unexecuted Option Periods, and Business Development. Typically companies will focus solely on their active contracts or guaranteed revenue. Harkcon likes to also look at revenue that isn’t guaranteed. Our unexecuted option periods are follow-on work for active contracts. Since they are not active and there is a chance that they won’t be exercised, we take the revenue and put a probability of it turning into an active contract on it. This is also called our expected value of the revenue. We apply a similar concept to our business development revenue. Contracts that we are currently biddin...

January 26, 2017

By Kristin Ghanem | Harkcon’s Contract Management Specialist 

Small business set-asides are an effective tool for helping small businesses compete and win government contracts.  When market research determines that a small business is able to perform the work or provide the necessary items needed by the government, those opportunities are set-aside exclusively for small businesses. 

There are several types of small business set-asides.  Some opportunities are open to all small businesses and some require a specific small business designation.

The government determines small business set-asides using either Contract Value or Prime Contract Goals.

Contract Value

A set-aside is partially based on the value of goods or services the government is purchasing.

Simplified Acquisition Threshold

Every government purchase with an anticipated value above the micro-purchase threshold of $3,500, and up to the Simplified Acquisition Threshold of $150,000, is required to be exclusively set-aside fo...

January 19, 2017

By Marty Jenkins | Harkcon’s Communications Specialist 

It’s 2017, and now that you’ve identified your goals, it’s time to execute them.  Whether you hope to increase sales or start a new business the strategy will only vary slightly.  So, how do you get there? It’s really quite easy! Follow your marketing plan, and these steps, and you’ll be well on your way.

The first step is picking out the most time sensitive items.  I recommend taking each item on your marketing list and rate the items in order of importance.  Consider both print and digital marketing materials in this review.  If you’re starting a new business I suggest having both print and web marketing materials.  

Once you place your items in order of importance, the next step is to start implementing them and developing a way to track and measure your marketing plan. Begin by choosing a method for monitoring and determining how often you need to measure.  At Harkcon, we use Google Analytics to monitor o...

January 13, 2017


By John Rutherford | Harkcon's Facility Security Officer 

Many Facility Security Officers (FSO) unnecessarily dread Defense Security Service (DSS) vulnerability assessments. Yes, preparing for an assessment is a lot of work, and yes, there is the possibility that you’re Industrial Security Representative (ISR) may find a vulnerability that reflects poorly on your facility. However, when viewed correctly, vulnerability assessments can be a valuable tool in helping a cleared company establish and maintain a high-quality security program with the objective of protecting classified information, people, and resources.

The DSS conducts vulnerability assessments every 12 to 18 months in accordance with NISPOM paragraph 1-207, Security Reviews. The focus of the assessment is to ensure that your facility is compliant with NISPOM requirements such as Foreign Ownership, Control, and  Interest (FOCI), Key Management Personnel, procedures for safeguarding classified information, reporting proce...

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