Missions of Rapid Scaling: Seven Essential Elements

  • Victoria Robinson
  • September 2, 2022

Federal agencies continuously face changing mission requirements, budgets, and scope. Whether the mission scope morphs, or unforeseen changes or events occur, or the needs rapidly scale up or down, our role as a contractor is operationalizing to meet our customers’ mission. 

Rapid growth in programs is not uncommon. Growing a program from 50 team members to hundreds indicates impactful missions with an immediate need. However, scaling a program comes with multitudes of challenges. Ensuring the team has laid the foundation to support these unforeseen changes is essential to success. 

This begs the question – How do we meet the Mission at Scale?

  1. Set Expectations but Remain Flexible to Change. Change is part of every program. Establishing expectations for the team and equipping them with the right tools, roles, and processes enables them to overcome any changes with agility. Starting a program with strict procedures and clear role functions sets the cadence and lays the framework for management. When unforeseen scaling occurs, the team can morph existing processes, insert new team members, and scale tools to meet the unique needs and landscape. 
  1. Plan for Change. By establishing adequate risk management, evaluating disaster recovery, and continuity of operations planning, the team should determine the different steps required to respond to a disaster that requires scaling before it is received.
  1. Lay the Communication Framework Early. The best way to help support fast-growing customers is to maintain transparent communication regarding goals and expectations. Discuss the biggest challenges upfront and remain solution-oriented in the process. Set up the cadence for regular communication. Keep an open line of communication with the customers to ensure they understand each action and its impact on the whole mission. 
  1. Be Prepared. One of the best ways to support a quickly growing customer includes addressing contracting requirements early and often. There may be unforeseen labor categories or other provisions to address sudden demand to offer a full suite of services in response. It is essential to know that when the time comes, clients seek help where it’s most readily available.
  • Build a Strong Team & Partnerships. You can’t do it alone. A company must accept the overhead required to maintain the partnerships and relationships to scale rapidly. In addition, organizations must be committed to excellence in hiring, training, and assigning managers best qualified to run programs. Teammates are essential to success when managing a surge successfully. True partners discuss issues early on instead of hiding them. Part of Highlight’s success comes from having a dedicated network of proven partners.
  1. Know your Why! Maintain a “Customer First, Mission First” mentality. Make sure a mission’s “why” is clear and understood. People tend to lean into a program when they understand its purpose and impact. Ensure that everything you are doing is focused on serving the customer. This may mean accepting some risk or inefficiencies in the short term to solidify trust and a reputation for performance in the long term.
  1. Leverage Technology. Automation and IT are some of the primary stakeholders that enable scaling. Engage them early and often and expect to take on some “IT responsibilities,” such as data and business analysis—innovative solutions to their problems. When customers reach out, they’ll often need an out-of-the-box solution to address the challenge. 

So, what have we learned? The best way to help support fast-growing customers is to maintain transparent communication regarding goals and expectations. Discuss the most significant challenges upfront and remain solution-oriented throughout the process. Sudden challenges require our ability to pivot quickly into resolutions and be readily available for various labor needs.   

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Thank you to our team for contributing to this post! 

  • Lia Melakou, Sr. Director of Service Delivery
  • Tim Garvey, BD Pursuit Manager