Program Management Tips
by Dexter Hansen

Introduction

Definitions

Elements of a Winning Program

Capable Motivated Team

Good Customer

Management Attention and Commitment

Typical Program Problems


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Introduction

Program management skills are needed to be successful as an engineer or manager. While this "Tips" page is very generic and applies to most engineering and management programs/projects, the information is applicable for Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO or TQM quality systemís implementations.

 For purposes of this web page as well as there is all ready an excellent on-line resource, I am not going to address the elements of project management. A complete download of the Program Management Instituteís - A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge - is available at Amazon.com. If you donít have time to get an advanced management degree, I suggest read the guide.


Definitions

Project: A temporary activity to provide a product or service. Projects have a definite starting and stopping point. Projects do not have the element of ongoing activity.

Program: A set of processes, systems and techniques for effective planning and control of projects. Programs typically include an element on an ongoing activity and can also contain smaller programs.

Project Management: The application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project.

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Elements of a Winning Program 

  • Realistic Program
  • Plan for Assessing and Managing Risk
  • Type of Contract Consistent with Risk
  • Feasible Technically
  • Schedule Attainable
  • Adequate Funding

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Capable Motivated Team
  • Strong Supportive Functional Organizations
  • Strong Program Technical & Business Leadership
  • Good Program Control & Tools
  • Quality Effort by Each Individual
  • Good Vendors and Subcontractors

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Good Customer

  • Willing to Work Mutual Problems
  • Open Trusting Relationship
  • Keeps Program Sold
  • Needs the Product or Service
  • Competent

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Management Attention and Commitment

  • Assign and Maintain a Competent Team
  • Periodic Effective Reviews
  • Timely and Adequate Investment
  • Climate of Mutual Trust
  • Correct Business Strategy

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Typical Program Problems

  1. Understanding technical difficulty during proposal phase
  2. Optimistic assumptions and ground rules during proposals phase - "MUST WIN"
  3. Compressed schedule imposed by customer
  4. Inadequate Staffing
  5. Inexperienced Program Leadership
  6. Weak capability and support by technical functional groups
  7. Inadequate Planning and Control
  8. Organizational Conflict
  9. Inadequate performance of subcontractor/vendors
  10. Inadequate transition of Design to Production
  11. Optimistic pricing


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Dexter A. Hansen