By Heather Seftel-Kirk, FedHealthIT Contributing Author

Krystle OkoyeDr Krystle Okoye is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CentralCare, Incorporated (CCI). Founded in 2001, CentralCare, Incorporated provides medical staffing professionals for the U.S. Federal Government. Featured in 2016 by the Inc. 5000, CCI was recognized as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies and is certified and has received the United States Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval.

What is one of the key lessons you have learned about operating successfully in the Federal Health space?

The key to everything is to know your customer. That means researching the need you are looking to fulfil, to understand new technologies and all of the ways you can help. It also means knowing the client’s mission beyond the scope of work, so you can offer solutions that are complementary to other areas of their business activities. Developing a relationship with clients means meeting with them as often as possible, suggesting solutions, perhaps through presentations or responses to requests for information, which may be of value to your customer.

Probably the biggest mistake people make, which is an offshoot of not knowing the client, is a misunderstanding of the customer’s needs. Often this comes from not grasping or comprehending the requests for proposal documents issued – RFIs, or RFPs, which may either be quite detailed or sometimes vague. It is important to understand what the customer is requiring in order to have a tailored solution. If that means going back to the Agency with questions, take the time to obtain clarifications so you can tailor your solution to the customer’s needs.

Is there any advice you would offer about deciding which opportunities to pursue?

It can be very tempting, especially when you are starting out, to respond to all opportunities, regardless of which may or may not be a good fit for you. It becomes dangerous though to say yes to just about anything, so you can win the work. As your business matures, it is important to begin to define your niche and make choices that will get you there. This means taking on jobs where you can thoroughly fulfil the requirements and provide solid solutions – not what you think you can achieve but what you know you can provide.

It is also imperative to take on projects that align with your current goals. I think it is important to have long-term goals for what you want the business to be, but also short-term goals that will help determine your annual path and plan. If you are working on a strategy just a year at a time, it is easier to identify and gear up for new opportunities and to put in place corrective actions for mistakes or near misses. With the approach of the new fiscal year and many uncertainties, this is a perfect example of how a current strategy may be based on several unknowns. Once things stabilize six months in, goals should be modified based on a new understanding of the environment.

Are there opportunities companies should watch for, to be able to expand their scope of what they can fulfil?

The key to success, and to growing and expanding your capabilities, is collaboration. That can mean furthering relationships with companies you have previously teamed with and reaching out to companies that offer complementary services for projects that may be outside your reach. Sometimes, considering teammates within the commercial space may be beneficial to your client. There may be companies that have not or do not traditionally work in the Federal market space, where synergies may exist and solutions can be developed, which can benefit your client in the end.

It is important to vet your teammate before you enter into a collaborative relationship. That means, at a minimum, knowing the capabilities of the company. Beyond that, you also want to know what kind of organization they are, to understand how they want to work with you, and to have an idea of how you might be able to work together. Collaboration in any way is not bad, and there are many ways to proceed. You just have to find the process that works for all parties.

Once you have established the relationship and worked out all of the legal agreements and non-disclosures, then you are free to discuss opportunities and solutions. You begin to appreciate the importance of collaboration when you realize that the new solutions developed from the combined effort will be very different from what either would have been able to achieve on their own.

In the end, it is all about ensuring you understand your client’s needs, which will translate to exceptional and/or acceptable tailored solutions for your client, in addition to collaboration with other companies to offer the best possible solution to your clients.

CentralCare, Incorporated (CentralCare) is an award-winning, SBA certified woman-owned small disadvantaged business headquartered in Alexandria, VA. For more than 16 years, the company has provided medical staffing professionals to the Federal Governments within the continental United States.