Win Government Sales With Data Capture Solutions That Meet Disability Regulations
By taking the initiative to understand and meet disability accessibility requirements of a capture solution RFQ (request for quotation), this VAR landed a $20 million deal with the U.S. Social Security Administration.
Could you imagine approaching your CFO and saying, "I need 12 people dedicated to a project for about three months, and I need to partner with an outside consulting company to put together a solution for a proposal?" That's a tall order, but Quality Associates, Inc. (QAI) (Columbia, MD) did just that to land a data capture software installation deal with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Of course, it did get its return: about $20 million worth and four additional opportunities in the federal government vertical. But it wasn't an easy journey.
When Scott Swidersky, director of QAI's Information Systems Division, saw the RFQ (request for quotation) from the SSA for a capture software solution, he knew his work would be cut out for him. The RFQ had a provision that the solution must meet disability requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is also referred to as AeDib (accelerated electronic disability). Section 508 requires that when federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they must ensure that federal employees with disabilities can use the technology and access the related data and information.
To win the contract, QAI not only needed to show it could provide the technological expertise, but it needed to show that it really understood and could provide a solution that met the AeDib requirements. "We knew that the business requirements of the software were critical, and cost would be a factor. But we had to distinguish ourselves from our competition, so we drove with a focus on the disability requirement."
Test Capture Software Modifications With End Users
QAI knew what it needed to do, but it also knew it needed help, because its expertise was not in accessibility-related solutions. The VAR partnered with The Bartimaeus Group (McLean, VA) to create a lab/testing environment to develop a solution to address the AeDib issues. The Bartimaeus Group assisted QAI in researching the AeDib requirements and understanding what those requirements meant in relation to a data capture solution. QAI found products from Freedom Scientific (St. Petersburg, FL), which specializes in magnification and voice translation tools that sit on top of an application's platform. QAI integrated the products from Freedom Scientific with Kofax Image Products (Irvine, CA) Ascent Capture software.
A unique element of the lab environment was that The Bartimaeus Group's testing team was visually impaired, to better test and develop the emerging solutions. "That really brought home what we were doing," says Swidersky. "It added a human element to our efforts." Reassurance from those testers that QAI was on the right track was helpful, too, when things got discouraging. Throughout the procurement process, numerous amendments were made to the requirements, forcing QAI to adjust its strategies several times. "There were a couple of times when we thought about shutting down," Swidersky says. "We were wondering, 'Are we going in the right direction?' But there were enough people saying that we needed to get into the meat of the AeDib requirement, so we kept on."
Disability Solutions For Data Capture Lead To New Opportunities
QAI was awarded the SSA contract in March 2004, with the first installment of $3.7 million arriving in April. Swidersky reports his company's initiative to meet the SSA's RFQ requirements, and the marketing efforts around it, have prompted four more government agencies to seek QAI's services. "We've been discovered in a new space, as someone who understands the 508 accessibility requirements," Swidersky says. "Like other regulations out there, 508 is something that will be policed within the federal arena, making it more of a mandatory requirement, as opposed to a consideration."