Last Friday, I got the following blurb from Defense Mergers & Acquisitions Daily:
CM Equity Partners portfolio company Preferred Systems Solutions (PSS) has acquired Global Services & Solutions, Inc. (GSS), a privately held, Arlington, Va.-based provider of acquisition and program support, engineering and technical expertise, and consulting services for major weapons systems acquisition programs. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Preferred Systems Solutions has bought Global Services & Solutions. OK. No word on whether Preferred was not handling services, or whether Global wasn’t into systems.
One of the salient comments I’ve gotten about this website is no one would wonder what you do upon looking at it. Similarly, no one could wonder what Defense Mergers & Acquisitions Daily covers, or how often it does it. But I didn’t have a clue what either one of those firms did without clicking through to their webpages.
So I decided to dig, but even then, I wasn’t immediately informed. The headings under capabilities on GSS’s webpages list engineering & technical services, acquisition support services, program management, and quality assurance & safety. The headings for PSS comprise information technology, something as vague as engineering, program management, intelligence services, staffing services, and a specific mention of their use of Deltek software for running call centers.
How any of this distinguishes either firm from, say, Booz Allen Hamilton is unclear. Sure, we get that they’re both lean operations, trying to survive chasing contracts with lowest-price, technically acceptable (LPTA) selection criteria, but could someone have spent even a few minutes thinking through the naming?
These sorts of bloodless three-letter acronyms (TLAs) masquerading as brands have afflicted military contracting for decades, but even this approach doesn’t have to be executed so badly. In the broader economy, no one wonders what IBM (International Business Machines) does, and the official name reminds us that IBM was amongst the first to actually make those things. In our business, Raytheon’s BBN might have just another three-letter name, but it evokes the heritage of the “legendary R&D organization” of Internet pioneers Bolt, Beranek and Newman. And we might call that aforementioned firm BAH from time to time, but it’s easy to remember that Edwin Booz founded the outfit in 1914. After that, you’re thinking about how they invented the PERT chart, and helped manage the Polaris program.
Using a human name—or any distinguishing word—at least helps remind a potential buyer of how one’s services, solutions, or whatever might differ from anyone else’s. So here’s some free advice to CM Equity Partners—ditch PSS and GSS as monikers, and come up with something, anything, that might help a contracting officer remember how your portfolio company differs from the mass of SETA contractors trying to stay afloat in a contracting market.