Susan Sharer, Executive Vice President with FedHealthIT, recently had the opportunity to speak with Phil Monkress, CEO of All Points Logistics (APL) about information, preparation, and what it really means to give back.
Phil Monkress, a U.S. Navy Data Systems Technician and Service Disabled Veteran, joined All Points in 1999 as COO and in 2009, assumed full ownership. He is credited with and was instrumental in the significant growth of APL into a multi-million-dollar corporation, supporting and supplying large Government contracts.
Gathering information involves listening to customers, as well as to employees. Monkress says while there may not be a complete answer or idea in any one communication, bits of valuable advice can be gathered from everyone that together, provide the knowledge, and the insights, that will set companies apart.
Monkress says one of his company’s greatest successes has been understanding the client, what they are looking for, their expectations, and the differences that exist because of logistical challenges. He says his team has developed a proficiency in focusing on the clients’ needs and focusing on a pricing strategy that combines meeting those needs and securing the win.
The team has also developed skill in effective communication, from the beginning of the process, through execution. “Communication during execution can be lost due to logistics, location, or other challenges. It’s critical to ensure communication is clear, that you take lessons learned from previous issues, and that you apply them.”
Healthcare is the Big Question Mark
The question of what the future of Healthcare will become is something no one, at this point, can adequately address.
There is the question of power and whether it will remain in the hands of insurance providers or be put back into the hands of physicians and Healthcare professionals.
There are questions on the national level about where the responsibility for Healthcare will fall, and if it turns out to be the State level, how many will be able to respond and how many will need to return that responsibility to the Federal level due to geographic or financial constraints.
What is perhaps more certain is the focus on improving service delivery for Veterans. Monkress says how precisely those efficiencies will be secured is unclear but the goal, the mission, is firm. “We’re already seeing a more digital environment which is great because that also creates an opportunity for more accountability. I suspect along the way we’ll see more automation of processes which will eliminate some of the human error that is natural and expected and that should help speed up the schedule for the Veteran.”
Preparation is Key
Monkress says whatever is to come, in 18 months, in five years, companies who want to succeed need to be preparing, now and at every step along the way. “You want to be sure you have the right resources from a business development perspective, on the intelligence gathering side. You want to ensure you have the right proposal team internally, or that you’ve identified a proposal shop for hire that you can align with.”
Ensuring a complete understanding of the client, now and as their needs evolve, making sure companies have the right personnel, and that they can deliver at the right price, is all key.
Another key aspect of preparation is knowing how to play the partnering game. He says, here again, due diligence is key. “You have to look beyond what is public to ensure someone you’re going to partner with fits your needs and requirements and is aligned with your goals. There is enough information in this industry that you won’t have to ask too many people to get opinions and advice. Ask for it and listen to it before you agree to partner.”
Relationships are a Two-Way Street
That idea of talking with and listening to people is key, whether you’re trying to get a foot in the door, understand a client’s needs, or develop an understanding of a particular space. Monkress says it is important, especially for new companies, that they understand there is nothing wrong with asking for help and that, in fact, they should. “Find someone who has been there and done that, who is a good fit and who you get along with, and ask for help. Be prepared as well to give them something in return, whether it is a relationship you have, a skillset you can offer, or an expertise you have developed because relationships do go both ways.”
On the flip side, he says it is important for companies who do have that expertise and knowledge to give back. All Points, for instance, has entered into several mentor/ protégé arrangements through which it will mentor a small business based on its own lessons learned and expertise. “We’ll work with them to develop their back office, help with business development, proposal support, even financial advice. It isn’t about giving one bit of advice and walking away, but about taking a company that is just starting out under your wing and guiding them through.”
The Bigger Picture of Giving Back
Monkress says the bigger picture when it comes to giving back is the Veteran who is at the heart of it all. “We have Veterans who are dealing with some serious issues, including on the mental health side, and what we all want is to speed the process so they get the help they need.”
He says though the VA Healthcare system will not be transformed in a day, it can be, with planning, the right personnel, and patience. It also requires commitment on the part of providers to do the right thing. “It takes providing first class service to agents, to help Government, rather than impeding them. It takes offering exceptional delivery at the right price, understanding at the end of the day it is our tax dollars that are being spent and ensuring they are spent in the best way possible, understanding that at the end of the line is the Veteran, waiting for care.”
All Points is a rapidly growing Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), providing products and services to a diverse set of Federal Government and Civilian agencies. Headquartered in Merritt Island, FL, with offices in Reston, VA; Houston, TX; and Huntsville, AL; All Points provides a full range of Technology and Mission Critical Services within its core competencies: Systems Engineering and Technical Services; Information Technology and Cyber Security; Program Management Support; Software Development, Test, and Verification; Life-Cycle Logistics; Intelligence Services; Warfighter and Mission Support; and Hardware and Software Integration and Solutions (VAR).
All Points recently earned a 5 ½ year contract to provide InterSystems Cache and Healthshare Software under the NASA SEWP contract and through which, it will also provide integration services. The company is also a Prime contractor on CMS SPARC and VETS-2 GWAC. As a Veteran himself, Monkress says he is proud his team has picked up a Prime role in the mission to deliver better Healthcare service to Veterans.
The company recently has been appraised at Maturity Level 3 of the CMMI Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration for Development (CMMI-DEV). All Points’ appraisal was performed independently by Broadsword Solutions Corporation.