Program Management in Defense and High Tech Environments: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Program Management in Defense and High Tech Environments

1st Edition

By Charles Christopher McCarthy

Auerbach Publications

270 pages | 37 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781482208382
pub: 2015-11-05
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Program management in a technical environment is as much art as it is science. Effective program managers are able to combine management and leadership skills for the good of the program and the people entrusted to them. This book illuminates the entire life cycle of the program—from the customer’s original concept to successful completion. It includes many helpful ideas and insights into why programs and program managers can fail. Much more importantly, it provides insights about how program managers can succeed.

Program Management in Defense and High Tech Environments is organized as a chronological "tale" of a program life cycle, with "side trips" that cover the important concepts of leadership, claims and claims avoidance, earned value measurement (EVM), communication basics, negotiations, and coaching. The book begins with an overview of program management, discussing the role of program managers, their required skills and experience, and the types of programs and contracts.

The remainder of the book provides more detail on the program manager’s role and the environment in which he or she works. Understanding that academic explanations of program management activities can be dry, the author uses true-to-life stories to present the nuts and bolts of the work. These stories illustrate the science of program management and the art that is necessary for success.

The book discusses many of the common program pitfalls. It explains how to detect and avoid scope creep—the unintended expansion of program scope. It details both internal and external scope creep and stresses the importance of constant vigilance to prevent cost overruns and schedule delays.

Program Management in Defense and High Tech Environments is a comprehensive guide for early- and mid-career program managers to understand what they need to do to be successful. It is also a valuable resource for later-career program managers who want to learn through other program managers’ successes and failures.

Table of Contents

Overview: Program Management in the Department of Defense (DoD)/High Technology Environment

Role of the Program Manager

Qualifications, Experience, Talents, and Skills

Types of Programs

Types of Contracts

Organizational Overview—Departmental Interfaces


End of Chapter Questions

Learning the Ropes: Understanding the Culture, the Customer, and the Program Capabilities

The Program in the Company Culture

The Program and the Customer (And His or Her Culture)

The Program and the Team

End of Chapter Questions

Identifying Opportunities

The Program Manager’s Knowledge Is Key

Program Manager Opportunities

End of Chapter Questions

Pre-Proposal Work

Using Pre-Proposal Efforts to Develop a Winning Proposal

Other Considerations


End of Chapter Questions

The Proposal Process for a "Typical Program"

The Important Pre-Proposal Period

To Bid or Not to Bid

Developing the Strategy—Getting Started

"Price to Win"

Leading the Proposal Team

Building the Team

Proposal Preparation—Storyboarding and Team Dynamics


Pricing Strategies and Risk Management


Business Reviews—The Sign-Off Process

Noncompetitive Proposals

Winning and Almost Winning the Contract—Final Negotiations

Contract Refinement

But What if You Lose?

What if You Lost for the "Wrong Reason"?

End of Chapter Questions

Planning the Program and Starting Work

The Management Part

The Leadership Part


Outsourcing Work Packages

Outsourcing Product

Building the Program Culture

End of Chapter Questions

Running the Program

Leadership Styles

Making Progress and Monitoring Progress

Monitoring Progress—Metrics

Focusing on Quality

Managing the Customer

Identifying and Avoiding Performance Traps

Getting "Stuck" and Getting "Unstuck"

Customers as Motivators

Keeping Senior Management Engaged

Detecting Trouble and Determining What To Do About It

When Problems Get Really Bad

Countervailing Forces and Priorities

Detecting and Avoiding "Scope Creep"—Internal

Detecting and Avoiding "Scope Creep"—External

Scope Creep—In Summary

Monitoring Versus Controlling

Cost Control in the Trenches

Monitoring Schedules—Program Reviews

Leadership and Caring

Program Changes and Continuity

Managing External Changes

Celebrating Victories—Confronting Defeats

Dealing with Individual Performance Problems

Diagnosing and Resolving Problems

Celebrating the Success at the End of the Program


End of Chapter Questions

Claim Identification, Claim Management, and Claim Avoidance

Late GFE

Defective GFE

Delayed Approvals or Contract Actions

Inappropriate Disapprovals or Comments

Noncontractual Direction

Flawed Technical Specifications

Defective Information

Claims Against You

Other Considerations in Claim Management


End of Chapter Questions

Leadership Models

Leadership: Getting People To Do What You Want Them To Do


End of Chapter Questions


Communications among the Team

What About Communication outside the Team?

Communication with the Customer

A Critical Communication Skill


End of Chapter Questions

Earned Value Management

Applying EVM Theory


End of Chapter Questions


Contract Negotiations

Customer Negotiations—Ongoing Contracts

Internal Negotiations—Work Budgets

Support Groups—Negotiations with Support Groups

Supplier Negotiations

Subcontractor Negotiations


End of Chapter Questions


Recognizing Influence in Coaching

Determining When to Coach


End of Chapter Questions

Inheriting a Program Already in Progress

Becoming a Member and Leader of the Team

Importance of Continuity

Fresh EAC


End of Chapter Questions

About the Author

Charlie McCarthy, having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Manhattan College, joined a large electronics company. His second assignment on their Professional Development Program became permanent, and Charlie began his "first career" as a systems/digital design engineer. For most of his career, his work has been in nuclear instrumentation and control systems, for both commercial and government power plants.

As much as Charlie loved electrons and diodes, he loved working with people more, and gradually grew into technical and project leadership roles. Charlie’s technical and analytical interests and his interest in people found a happy overlap in program management. Along with growth in experience and technical competence, he earned a master’s of science in electrical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. He has successfully managed a wide range of projects and programs, from those with one or two people to large, complex hardware and software programs involving over 50 engineers and operations personnel.

About the Series

Best Practices in Portfolio, Program, and Project Management

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management
COMPUTERS / Software Development & Engineering / General