Program Management

Program Manager (PM)
Program Managers Tool Kit Cover

In Program Management, the Program Manager (PM) is the designated individual with the responsibility for and authority to accomplish program objectives for the development, production, and sustainment to meet the user’s operational needs. The PM is accountable for the overall cost, schedule, and performance of a program and reporting to the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA). They exercise leadership, decision-making, and oversight throughout a program and a systems life cycle. They need to be the leader of the program, understand requirements, balance constraints, manage contractors, build support (Social Engineering), and puts to use the basic skills of management: [1.3]

  • Planning: How the program will accomplish its objectives
  • Controlling: Setting standards and making sure a program meets those standards
  • Organizing & Staffing: Building a team to achieve the program objectives
  • Leading: Leading a team to meet a programs vision, objectives & goals

The PM has the overall authority to develop, manage and execute a program Acquisition Strategy.  They also establish and implement a Systems Engineering approach to translate operational needs and capabilities into technically feasible, affordable, and operationally effective and suitable increments. [2]

The PM must understand the Defense Acquisition System.  It’s important that the PM properly navigate each of the three main processes (Acquisition, JCIDS and PPBE) in order to successfully execute their program.

Topics of responsibility and understanding for the Program Manager (PM) include:

An effective PM should have the “big picture” perspective of the program, including in-depth knowledge of the interrelationships among its elements. An effective PM:

  • 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 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.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 5/11/2021

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