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Published August 19, 2016
A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Brett Housholder, Wyoming Entrepreneur Procurement Technical Assistance Center program manager
“It seems like since I’ve looked into government contracting that I have accumulated endless user names, passwords and URLs for all of the registrations and certifications that I am required to do. How do I keep all of this stuff straight?” Anne, Sheridan
One thing you learn very quickly when you jump into the world of government contracting is that, much like patience, organization is a virtue.
There are several websites you will need to familiarize yourself with and, potentially, multiple invoicing systems that different agencies use. Also, user names and passwords are unique to each system or website, all with different requirements for combinations of letters, numbers and special characters.
Let’s do a quick example to illustrate this point.
The two absolute requirements for government contracting are a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and a SAM (System for Award Management) registration. So, that’s two websites, user names and passwords right away.
If you are going after a certification like a woman-owned small business or HUBZone, you will need a separate account for the Small Business Administration’s General Login System. If you want to invoice for work done for any agency in the Department of Defense or the Department of the Interior, there are two more websites, user names and passwords for those. And these are just a few examples.
It is enough to make your head spin and forget which user name goes with which site and which registration needs to be renewed once a year, once every other year, etc.
This is where a few minutes on the front end and strong organizational skills will save you a lot of frustration and time. We recommend creating a list from the beginning that contains the various sites you will need to remember and a brief description of what role they play in the contracting process (basic registrations, websites to find opportunities, invoicing websites, etc.).
Spreadsheets are a convenient way to organize your list. Just make three columns and keep it simple: name of website/system, the URL and the purpose of the site.
With cybersecurity an ever-increasing concern for businesses and individuals alike, one thing we don’t recommend is storing your user names and passwords in a spreadsheet like this. It may be tempting to put everything together in one place, but a spreadsheet simply isn’t secure enough. Thankfully, there are plenty of password managers out there to give you a few options for storing this information in a more secure format.
Bottom line: You will accumulate many websites, user names and passwords that will be easy to confuse or forget. Creating an organized system from day one will save you many headaches as your business starts winning contracts.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at www.wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.