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The DoD PSM’s Role in Schedule Management

The DoD PSM’s Role in Schedule Management

The DoD PSM’s Role in Schedule Management
Shawn Harrison

While primarily a Program Management and Systems Engineering responsibility, oversight of the development program’s schedule and program management baseline is a multi-disciplinary activity requiring each functional leader’s engagement, including the Product Support Manager (PSM). The PSM team is empowered to “own” their swim lane(s) in the Integrated Master Schedule (IMS), which is “the integrated and networked multi-layered schedule of program tasks.” The IMS, along with the Integrated Master Plan (IMP), which includes events, accomplishments, and criteria for key milestones and program activities, provide a structured and objective framework for managing the program.

The PSM team should review the contractor’s monthly IMS report, particularly the Earned Value Management (EVM) narrative reports (e.g., Integrated Program Management Data and Analysis Report) for the status and explanation of product support requirements’ cost and schedule variances. (Note: DAU’s EVM “gold card” is a good reference to help understand the terminology and interpretation of variances, indices, etc.). The monthly report can provide the PSM valuable insights that may not surface in day-to-day meetings, including noteworthy cost and schedule variances below certain “tripwires” that may indicate impending impact to the critical path, or control account over-runs that may flag a pending schedule delay or change in contractor behavior (e.g., lack of willingness to negotiate or entertain changes). The PSM team should also participate in recurring Schedule Risk Assessments (SRAs) which quantify risks to milestone thresholds and objectives and inform key decisions related to planning, programming, budgeting, and legacy (replaced system) retirements. For insights into schedule delay impacts, see GAO’s Weapon Systems Annual Assessment for 2023.

In addition to reviewing the contract schedule, the PSM also helps the PM create a robust Government IMS for managing activities not on the contractor’s IMS. The PSM’s main contribution is the Product Support (PS) Schedule in the Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP). The PSM should not settle for generic, non-descript activity headers with long, amorphous activity bars, but instead aim for a meaningful schedule that will help the PSM team manage key efforts related to: LCSP updates, Product Support Business Case Analyses, and Independent Logistics Assessments; spares provisioning, cataloging, and delivery; technical manual development, certification, and verification; support equipment approvals and delivery; site activation and fielding; depot activation; etc. If resourcing permits, PSMs should work with the PM to secure assistance from a trained scheduler to build the PS schedule using professional scheduling software to establish a loaded, leveled, and resource-constrained schedule that avoids over-optimistic views of the program’s key timelines.

To learn more, consider taking EVM 101, Fundamentals of EVM and encourage you to check out the DoD IMP & IMS Preparation and Use Guide; Section 2.3.2 of the Guide to Program Management Knowledge, Skills, and Practices; the DoD Product Support Manager's Guidebook, the DAU Product Support Manager's Reference Repository, as well as Section 8 of the LCSP Outline v3.0.