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Public Sector vs Private Sector

Published 05/03/2018

Gunner Technology works with three different types of clients: Public Sector, Private Sector and Entrepreneurs.

Technically, entrepreneurs are in the private sector, but they are a different type of work altogether, so we categorize them separately.

And each of them are very different to work for and with, so let’s start off by looking a the Public Sector vs the Private Sector.

Project Acquisition

Even before the work starts, these two entities diverge just in how we go about landing the gigs.

The public sector has just under a million different job boards – and I’m only slightly exaggerating.

But each state has a a job board.

Some cities have job boards.

Counties have job boards.

Universities have job boards.

The federal government has hundreds of job boards.

Agencies have job boards.

There’s contracts to win contracts for other contracts.

The point is, it’s not hard to find opportunities.

Winning them can be challenging, but the opportunities are clear and bountiful.

Not so much with the private sector.

It’s not that the opportunities aren’t there.

In fact, there might be more opportunities in the private sector than the public sector.

The problem is that companies in the private sector either don’t know what the opportunity is and/or don’t know where to post the opportunity once they discover it.

For example, Gunner is not in the waste management industry.

We have never had a client in waste management, so we don’t know how companies in that particular industry operate.

But, I guarantee you, if we sat down with members of the wast management industry and delved into how they operate, we would be able to discover a number of inefficiencies and/or opportunities that we could solve with custom-built software.

At the same time, the member of the waste management industry may not be aware of what existing technology offers – not to mention what is possible with custom software.

So, the only way to uncover these opportunities is deep networking or referrals.

Usually, this takes one of two forms:

  1. Through conversations with people in our network, we start to discover problems in a company or industry. Most of the time, this is by listening to someone in the industry complain about a certain aspect of it. Our thought is: “Man, we could eliminate that complaint 100%”
  2. The second is different, but kind of the same. An existing client of ours will be talking to someone in their network, and Gunner will come in conversation, usually in the vein of “You won’t imagine what we built.” This gets the gears turning of the other person who usually calls us up and says “Hey. I heard what you did for so-and-so. You think you could help me?”

 

Project Type

Gunner Technology builds solutions. That’s what we do.

And the public sector has some unique problems when compared to the private sector and vice versa.

However, there is a common theme to the project types from both.

In general, with the private sector, you are building new ideas.

The private sector is hyper competitive, so each firm in the industry is looking for an edge over the others.

There’s no better way to get that advantage than through technology.

So you have clients who are much more willing to try cutting edge and new technology.

This means that projects and contracts are very much ongoing and alive.

Clients get addicted, in a sense, to technological progress.

One idea begets another – a successful project gives rise to another idea.

“Wow. This has helped us so much, I wonder what else we can do with technology…”

So the project style and relationship becomes much more of a partnership than the typical vendor/client relationship.

With the public sector, most of the agencies are playing catchup with the private sector.

They know what’s being done out there, but they’ve been locked in 5-year contracts with decaying technology, so they’ve fallen behind.

They have been forced to use outdated technology while looking at the rest of the country use standard tools like CRM, CMS and more.

Most of the projects are just dealing with catching up, with maybe a couple tweaks to fit specific agency’s needs.

Because of this, most of the projects have a very clear start and end date, and because of how the government works, the agency can’t be like “Well, that was awesome. Let’s do this now and just keep it going.”

Project Management

Similar to project type, project management differs as well.

Most public sector project have very defined scopes and statements of work.

They’re so clear, in fact, that most are throw-over-the-wall-and-call-us-when-they’re-finished style.

Recently, many agencies have gotten better at this and have assigned one or two people to join the team and work collaboratively with us, but, to no fault of their own, the feedback is limited to what is and isn’t in scope.

Conversely, the private sector projects are much less defined and start more of a loose idea.

Those ideas get formed in a collaborative manner as the project moves forward.

Skills

This could go under project acquisition as that’s what it largely relates to, but there is a different skillset that goes into working in the public sector vs the private sector.

As we said, there are so many opportunities available in the public sector, but you have to be really good at creating responses to these bids.

It’s a specific skill that requires really good writing and comprehension because you don’t have access to the  agencies to ask a ton of questions for clarifications.

Nor can you really pitch an agency as to why you are the best for the job.

You have to read the opportunity and then clearly, concisely and specifically respond in writing why you are the best firm for the job.

With the private sector, you have to be much better at networking and interacting.

It takes a really good listener who understands business to be able to comprehend how an industry or company works and then figure out specifically how we can help them.

Rewards

Finally, the rewards are different – both tangibly and intangibly.

Tangibly, with the public sector, the contract value is what it is.

This is good because the value is generally pretty good.

But you can’t, for example, discount the contract in expectation that you’ll get more out of the next contract.

Which is how it works in the private sector.

Most of the time, we’ll use the first contract to ease a client’s concerns.

“We know you’re skeptical, so let’s start with a small contract so we can prove to you how valuable we are. After that, we’ll strike a bigger contract.”

Intangibly, in the private sector, you get challenged a lot more with what you’re building and, additionally, you make much longer relationships.

This isn’t to say you can’t make amazing relationships in the public sector, but the nature of the contracts make them harder.

In the public sector, the fact that you’re helping your country is a tremendous sense of pride that you just don’t get from the private sector.