A soldier in the smoke after the explosionDo you want to do business with the Pentagon? If you do, there’s some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that winning a U.S. Department of Defense contract can be very difficult because the Pentagon is a huge bureaucracy and you might need to beat out a lot of competitors.

The good news is twofold. First of all, you can generate significant revenue as a supplier. Secondly, working with the military has become much easier in recent years thanks to technological changes. One of the technological changes is implementation of a system called iRAPT — which stands for Invoicing, Receipt, Acceptance, and Property Transfer. Essentially, iRAPT allows the Pentagon and its suppliers to focus more on making sure soldiers and military officials receive quality goods and services and spend less time worrying about keeping records.

“The iRAPT system was created to support DoD’s goal of moving to a paperless acquisition process to track where everything DoD owns is logged with a purchase date, a purchase price, the dates the item was sent for repairs, or refurbishment or was taken out of commission,” reports our blog “How iRAPT (Formerly WAWF) Affects Your Asset Reporting.”

The iRAPT system has been very effective in processing the submission of military vendors’ bills and other documents electronically. In fact, the time between a vendor preparing a document and the Pentagon accepting it has declined from 10 days to less than one day, according to the blog “8 Benefits to iRAPT Application.” The Pentagon and its suppliers both benefit from this change, but suppliers need to understand their role in iRAPT. Suppliers need to:

* Submit Documents ASAP:
The benefit of submitting documents electronically rather than faxing or mailing them is greatly diminished if the contractor is irresponsible about meeting deadlines. Suppliers need to maintain a good relationship with the Pentagon. Many Department of Defense officials are very conscious about laws requiring the government to pay interest on bills that are paid late. They often have an expectation of when an invoice will be sent. If it’s not there, they might worry that they will incur an interest charge even if it’s the supplier’s fault.

* Be Responsive To Inquiries:
Thanks to the iRAPT system, suppliers can be much more accurate and expeditious in responding to inquiries by the Pentagon. The electronic system allows suppliers to check their records on what specific products they sold the Pentagon, the quantity of products they sold, the prices of the products they sold, etc. Consequently, a simple inquiry can turn into a sale. The Pentagon has asked you about an order and you can use this inquiry as an opportunity to consummate another sale of your products. Saying “I don’t know” to a question is a surefire way to not make a sale.

* Choose Responsible Leadership:
During the paper era, suppliers committed a lot of labor time to sending invoices, keeping records of invoices, and talking to Pentagon officials about invoices. The employees communicating with the Pentagon often couldn’t make decisions or sales. Now that the paperless era is here, your company should use its time and money savings on labor to spend wisely on responsible personnel who can make sales. One wise investment is appointing a company leader to check the information in the electronic system. This individual is called the Group Administrator or GAM.

“Make sure your appointed GAM has sufficient knowledge of government contracting,” advises the blog “How iRAPT (Formerly WAWF) Affects Your Asset Reporting.” “The GAM’s role is to add, delete or change any company information or Cage Codes in the iRAPT system, as well as grant or deny other employees access into the system and to assign appropriate roles.”

Appointing a GAM who has at minimum the ears of your company’s leadership so he or she can keep you posted about information your company can use to sell more products is probably a good idea.“Overview of iRAPT Vendor User Roles,” a document produced by Wide Area Workflow eBusiness Suite, lists eight administrative functions that the GAM has in the iRAPT system. Among other things, GAMS can view and edit user profile information, use activation reports, and manage work colleagues’ use of the system.

The “Overview of iRAPT Vendor User Roles” also lists some other roles that suppliers have after an iRAPT system is instituted. Besides submitting invoices, military suppliers need to resubmit documents that were rejected after correcting them and communicate via e-mail about necessary actions.

The iRAPT system is like any other advanced computer technology. High school students who learn advanced computer technology don’t necessarily become smarter and better students. They do, however, learn to use tools that can make them better students if they apply the tools correctly. The tools give them an opportunity to become better students. The iRAPT system does the same thing for companies that sell supplies to the Pentagon.