Monday, November 13, 2017

Alfred Richardson VP of Technology

It has been a while since we released something on our blog and the thought occurred to me about my daughter’s chosen profession- Program Management. I know the title sounds like a strange topic for a blog in the undersea systems world but bear with me.  Yes, my daughter is a strange person, she chose to become a Program Manager. Yep, one of those people of multi-tasking skills and details.  She is one of “those” people that every program must deal with.  You ever notice that they speak their own language.  Words like waterfall and agile. I thought I knew what a waterfall was, and as far as an agile program you got me there.  They have “terms” for everything. I really like how they describe organizational structures as functional organizations like it is a bad thing.  Ever hear of a projectized organization or a composite organization? Even my spell checker has a problem with the former. And don’t get me started on Program Manager acronyms, we previously wrote a blog about the over use and misuse of acronyms.

So, this got me to thinking about the program mangers I worked with and for over the years.  They were nice people, well most of them, with a slightly different look at life. Ever hear the expression, “We never have the time to do it right but always seem to find the time to do it over again.” In today’s software world they have tools to track just about everything.  A few of these tools are Gantt charts (devised in 1910 by a man called Gantt), Pert charts (Program Evaluation Review Technique, developed by the Navy in 1950), and maybe something to do with Scrum. (Isn't that a Rugby formation?). The use of Program Managers created what we at R&R refer to as Project Quality Management. That is, they are the central person most responsible for creating an organization’s profit on a specific project or projects. Although some may disagree, the organization’s responsibility is to provide the Program Manager with the tools that provide the highest potential for success.  In short, the organization should be working for the project manager and in turn the project manager works for the organization by providing the fuel to keep the organization fed, i.e. Profit.

Being a Program Manager is not easy. As the saying goes, back in the day I was first trained as a Program Manager by AT&T and then several years later by the US government; both had the same message -learn how to do more with less.  Because in reality a program needs more output with less people, less time, and less money. After all organizations do not have an unlimited source of funding.

Program Managers have a tough job working with engineers, management suppliers, and customers.  As we also provide program support R&R’s estimate is that about 90% of the issues that must be resolved are internal and only about 10% is customer based. Herding cats maybe less stressful.  So, in closing, let me say be nice to your Program Manager. 


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