Program Management

Program Management Overview
DAU Program Managers Toolkit

Program Management is the discipline used by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Aerospace Community for controlling the cost, schedule, and performance of a project or group of projects to achieve a stated goal. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “A Program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually.” Program Management is focused on: [1]

The DoD acquisition system represents the processes that are used to procure, develop and utilize products for the DoD. The system consists of three (3) individual processes (Acquisition, Requirements, and Funding) that provide the policies, principles, and laws that govern the management of DoD programs. The three individual processes are:

A Program Manager (PM) is the actual title of the individual who is responsible for the cost, schedule, and performance of a specific project. The PM must understand and manage multiple discipline areas in order the successfully execute a project. In the DoD, the PM has the authority to accomplish program objectives for the development, production, and sustainment of systems to meet the user’s operational needs and is accountable to the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA). In order to accomplish these goals and meet objectives, the PM must integrate and understand:

A Program Manager (PM) should have the “big picture” perspective of their project, including in-depth knowledge of the interrelationships among its elements. An effective program manager:

  • Is a leader and a manager, not primarily a task “doer”;
  • Understands the requirements, environmental factors, organizations, activities, constraints, risks, and motivations impacting the program;
  • Knows and is capable of working within the established framework, managerial systems, and processes that provide funding and other decisions for the program to proceed;
  • Comprehends and puts to use the basic skills of management-planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling-so people and systems harmonize to produce the desired results;
  • Coordinates the work of defense industry contractors, consultants, in-house engineers and logisticians, contracting officers, and others, whether assigned directly to the program office or supporting it through some form of an integrated product team or matrix support arrangement;
  • Builds support for the program and monitors reactions and perceptions that help or impede progress; and
  • Serves both the military needs of the user in the field and the priority and funding constraints imposed by managers in the Pentagon and military service/defense agency headquarters.

Difference between Program Management and Project Management
There has always been confusion on the difference between Program Management and Project Management. The biggest difference is the size and scope between the two. Below is a list of the major differences.

  • Program Management: Deals with a group of related programs, on a larger and more diverse scale that are meant to achieve an organization’s strategic goals and business objectives.
  • Project Management: Usually involves one project with deliverables that is more focused on achieving an objective and usually has a strict start and end date delivery schedules, quality, and cost controls.

DoD Management Technique

Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) is the DoD management technique that simultaneously integrates all essential acquisition activities through the use of Integrated Product Teams (IPT) to optimize design, manufacturing, and supportability processes. IPPD facilitates meeting cost and performance objectives from product concept through production, including field support.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 5/3/2021

Rank: G1

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