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Project Management and Systems Engineering

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Project Management and Systems Engineering
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THE PATTERN OF SUCCESS

The role of the project manager is to acquire equipments which will perform the required functions at an affordable price and by the time they are needed. In these days of constrained budgets, "affordable" may be defined as the least total cost to the government only with the proviso that the functions to be performed are worth that expenditure. Literally hundreds of studies have looked at defense acquisitions over the past 50 years. Reading the conclusions and recommendations from a 1949 report is like reading the results of a 1974 report. Project after project fails to achieve these goals. Each report is clear; projects fail to meet performance objectives, overrun costs by 150%, and slip schedules 25-50% or more. In the vast majority of cases, the project goals were not achieved for the following reasons:

  • misspecification (usually gross over-specification creating artificial technical problems)
  • failure to manage risks
  • obscuring of the project goals through extraneous paperwork requirements
  • failure to adequately define what is required
  • underestimating the required project resources (sometimes intentionally, in order to "buy in" and get a project started)

These reasons are, however, only the symptoms of underlying problems in the acquisition community. The TELCAM project looked at successes and failures in industry as well as government; the successful project has the same traits whether in industry or in government. An acquisition project also shares many traits with a small business, so TELCAM also solicited information from the Small Business Administration. Again, success is a pattern, whereas failure is a deviation from that pattern. The major difference between failures in industry and failures in government is that a failing project in industry is usually rapidly terminated; the government failure usually plods on to an elegant wreck.

What is the elusive pattern of success? The projects cited as successes will have two main features:

  • A strong, knowledgeable project manager who acts as the ultimate authority for all project matters - tasking, budgeting, technical decisions.
  • A small, dedicated team executing project tasks.

The key words above are: strong, knowledgeable, ultimate authority, small, dedicated, and team. Excellent studies of the nuclear power program ', the Polaris system, 2 and NTDS3 are available which show these forces at work. "Strong" appears to be a peculiar necessity in the government projects, as each success seems to attain that status in spite of "the system." An ultimate goal of acquisition R&D must be to change "the system" to allow average individuals to be successful project managers. Until that goal is reached, there is still enough of a task to create knowledgeable managers. Some spectacular failures have been managed by strong, unknowledgeable individuals. A project needs a strong champion in order to "steal" sufficient authority to become a purposeful autonomous entity, but authority unwisely wielded is disaster. The government project manager is not held accountable for his actions; accountability is the "quality assurance" incentive used to check authority in industry.

TOC

PART A: CHRONOLOGICAL GUIDE
I. INTRODUCTION ... page I-1
II. REQUIREMENTS DEFINITION... II-1
III. PROGRAM PLANNING... III-1
IV CONCEPTUAL PHASE... NV-1
V VALIDATION PHASE... V-I
VI. TRANSITION TO PRODUCTION... VI-1
VII. APPROVAL FOR PRODUCTION (AFP)... VII-1
VIII. INITIATING SUPPORT... VIII-1
PART B: KEY DISCIPLINES
IX. LIFE-CYCLE COSTING (LCC) ... IX-1
X. INTEGRATED LOGISTICS SUPPORT (ILS)... X-1
XI. SCREENING TECHNIQUES... XI-1
XII. SYSTEM/DEVELOPMENT SPECIFICATION... XII-i
XIII. DECISION TO BUILD, BUY, OR MODIFY... XIII-1
XIV CONSIDERATION OF STANDARDIZATION... XIV-1
Xv WARRANTY APPLICATIONS... XV-1
XVI. TYPES OF CONTRACTS... XVI-1
XVII. DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES... XVII-1
XVIII. INSTALLATION PLANNING... XVIII-1
XIX. TEST AND EVALUATION... XIX-1
XX. DOCUMENTATION ... XX-1
XX7 RISK MANAGEMENT... XXI-1
XXIi. PROJECT MASTER PLAN (PMP)... XXII-1
XXIII, OTHER MANAGEMENT TASKS... XXIII-1
APPENDIX A: TELCAM ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY... A-1
APPENDIX B: RECOMMENDATIONS OF GOVERNMENT STUDIES
ON REDUCING COSTS OF ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS
AND EQUIPMENT ... B-1
ii

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