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Content Guide

A guide on how to write clear, consistent, and
accessible content at Skylight.

Definition of terms

At Skylight, we use a number of specialized terms to describe our way of working. Refer to the below definitions whenever you come upon a term or phrase that’s new to you, but commonly used within Skylight.

  • Admin operations: refers to all the administrative activities (e.g., bookkeeping, timekeeping, data management) that are part of the company’s business operations. Also known as “backoffice.”
  • Bid & proposal (B&P): a plan (proposal) and proposed cost (bid) for fulfilling the conditions outlined in a solicitation, such as an RFP (request for proposal).
  • Business development lead: an individual responsible for developing and executing Skylight’s overall strategy for winning a strategic business opportunity.
  • Business model: describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value, in economic, social, cultural or other contexts.
  • Business operations: refers to all the day-to-day actions that are necessary for running the company and generating income.
  • Capture: an industry term describing the efforts that precede a formal proposal submission. The broad goal of a “capture” effort is to develop a strategy that puts Skylight in the best possible position to win new work or retain existing work with a customer.
  • Client: someone who engages with Skylight for professional service/support. There’s a lot of literature that goes to great lengths to draw distinctions between the terms “client” and “customer,” but we generally use them synonymously at Skylight, with a preference for “client.”
  • Continuing resolution (CR): a temporary funding measure that Congress can use to fund the federal government for a limited amount of time. The day-to-day operations of most federal agencies are funded on an annual basis by appropriations. When those appropriations bills aren’t enacted by the start of the fiscal year on October 1, Congress uses a CR to avoid a “government shutdown.”
  • Contract: a legally-binding agreement between Skylight and a customer or teaming partner detailing the exact work to be accomplished and other relevant terms (e.g., period of performance, financials, legal terms).
  • Contract line item numbers (CLIN): federal contracts are typically funded at the CLIN level, which breaks the contract down into items being procured (e.g., labor hours, travel funding) and provides accounting classification traceability.
  • Direct manager: someone who is the direct line manager of an employee. If you encounter the term, “supervisor,” that’s synonymous with direct manager. We try to avoid using the term “supervisor,” as it reminds us of industrial-era management.
  • Director: a type of people manager who oversees managers, individual contributors, teams, and sometimes other directors. A director is expected to work across the company to get things done and drive results with little or no supervision. At Skylight, we typically refer to a director as the “Head of X,” such as the Head of Recruiting.
  • Engagement manager: someone who oversees the successful execution of a contract, including building positive relationships with the client and managing multidisciplinary delivery teams. This role is also known as “delivery manager.” We prefer the term engagement manager over delivery manager as the former better connotes the relationship-management component of our client work. However, we do use the term delivery manager in public materials, such as job advertisements, as it’s a more commonly-known term.
  • Executive: a type of people manager who oversees directors, managers, individual contributors, teams, and sometimes other executives. An executive is expected to plan and execute the direction of the company in a results-driven way. Titles of executives include CxO and Vice President.
  • Federal fiscal year: the accounting period for the U.S. federal government, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30.
  • General management: all the executive-level activities involved in managing the profit & loss and business operations of the company. Sometimes referred to as “general management & operations.”
  • Individual contributor: a professional with no direct reports and whose expertise and experience are central to the success of the company.
  • Manager: a type of people manager who oversees individual contributors, teams, and sometimes other managers. A manager is expected to drive results for the company with some support. Depending on the context of the term, “manager” may be in reference to someone’s level of responsibility (e.g., manager vs. executive) or to an employee’s direct manager, who could be at the executive, director, or manager level.
  • Operating model: describes how an organization delivers value and is a subset of the larger “business model” concept.
  • Outreach: an umbrella term that we sometimes use for brevity’s sake to refer to the business functions of marketing and communications, which are related, but different.
  • People operations: a strategic business function that focuses on creating great employee experiences. It’s an umbrella term that’s inclusive of HR and talent management. Sometimes referred to as “people management.”
  • People manager: an executive, director, or manager who provides leadership and personnel administration (e.g., performance evaluations) in support of the individuals and teams they oversee.
  • Period of performance: the time period during which the proposed work will be completed and the funds awarded are available for expenditure by the recipient. A number of government contracts are structured with a base period (e.g., 12 months) and one or more option periods. An option period gives the government a unilateral right to purchase additional services/supplies or to extend the contract for a specified period of time.
  • Prime contractor: a contractor who works directly with the customer. They manage any subcontractors, and are responsible for ensuring that the work is completed as defined in the contract.
  • Proposal contributor: broad term for anyone who participates in the creation of content for a proposal response or otherwise participates in the development or review of proposal content. Content types can vary (e.g., narrative, presentation materials, illustrations).
  • Socioeconomic program: refers to a special program set up by the government to limit competition to certain types of qualified small businesses. Example programs include 8(a), Woman-Owned Small Business Program, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program.
  • Subcontractor: a person or company who works under a prime contractor.
  • Team lead: someone who provides guidance, instruction, direction, and leadership to a group of individuals (the team). Anyone can be a team lead, including a people manager or an individual contributor.
  • Teaming agreement: a contract between a potential prime contractor and another company that wishes to act as a subcontractor under a specified customer contract.
  • Teaming partner: an external party, such as another company, who agrees to work with Skylight in some capacity to win and/or deliver on a customer contract. Also known as “vendor partner.”

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