Government business basics

You got good reason. Take the federal government alone: the Feds are the largest single buyer of information technology in the country. Add in government IT purchasers in 13 provinces and territories plus a multitude of municipal buyers coast-to-coast-to-coast and you’ve got yourself an enormous market

you shouldn’t ignore. But if you’re going to exploit it, you first need an attitude check.

In your mind, does the very word government conjure up ranks of faceless bureaucrats sucking up your hard-earned tax dollars doing less than demanding jobs? Do you see government employees not as civil servants and but as swivel servants, concerned more with their comfortable offices and indexed pensions than serving the public well?

If so, better look elsewhere for your business. Today’s public servant is a different breed. Especially those involved with IT. Dedicated, innovative, and hardworking may be words that don’t fit the stereotype but they do describe many of the CIOs and their staff toiling in departments and city halls across the land. This I know from nearly a decade of covering their efforts for Technology in Government magazine, a sister publication to this one.

You may know it too and already be in the thick of selling to government. But whether you’re experienced or a newbie, big or small, here’s three other basics you should also keep in mind:

  • Keep yourself familiar with government IT priorities – best bet for the federal government is regular visits to the Web site of its CIO, Michelle d’Auray, at www.cio-dpi.gc.ca. Provinces are trickier. For their most innovative projects currently underway, check out the ESD Clearinghouse at www.iccs-isac.org. For more strategic stuff about provincial needs and priorities, try my alternative approach: do a search “CIO+ your province” and go from there. For municipal markets, start with Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) at www.misa.on.ca or www.misa.bc.ca
  • Know government purchasing processes cold – for the Feds begin with Contracts Canada at http://contractscanada.gc.ca/en/ for a purchasing tutorial then go on to the MERX database at www.merx.bmo.com to see what the government is actually looking for these days. Provincially, visit http://businessgateway.ca/, click through to your province or territory then look for the link “Selling to Government Tenders”. Municipally, go to MISA, search for your city or town, then phone the contact listed.
  • Meet government people – GTEC (www.techgov.com), the annual technology in government trade show and conference in Ottawa is your single best opportunity. This year it runs October 6-9 and will attract buyers, sellers, pundits and prognosticators, movers and shakers from all three levels of government in Canada and beyond. In the meantime, for other IT events where you can meet and mingle go to www.governmentevents.ca. Membership

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