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Questions Every Product Support Manager (PSM) Should be Prepared to Answer

Assume for a moment you are the Product Support Manager of a major weapon system, and you have just been advised that a new Program Manager (PM) is inbound to your program. Time to take stock of…

Questions Every Product Support Manager (PSM) Should be Prepared to Answer

Bill Kobren

Assume for a moment you are the Product Support Manager of a major weapon system, and you have just been advised that a new Program Manager (PM) is inbound to your program. Time to take stock of things and begin to prepare a programmatic overview of your product support strategy for the new boss.

 

One recommended starting point would be to be prepared to talk to each item in the Independent Logistics Assessment (ILA) checklists and provide background regarding the top level dashboard color coding.  If your program hasn’t had a recent ILA, you might consider completing an internal ILA using the contents of the  DoD Logistics Assessment Guidebook as a source of an excellent self-inspection checklist. For our Air Force colleagues, the Logistics Health Assessment (LHA) is also an invaluable source as well.

 

In addition, it’s never too early to begin thinking about how you would respond to some of the potential questions your new boss will likely ask you. As a public service, here are a few questions you might be wise to consider as you prepare to welcome your new program leadership aboard. A few ideas are provided here as a public service (or at least as a potentially handy reference):

 

  • What is our product support strategy? How do we know it is the right approach?
  • Have we developed and implemented an affordable & effective performance-based logistics (PBL) product support strategy? How do we know?
  • Who are our product support integrators (PSI) and our product support providers (PSP)? How do we know we’re optimizing implementation of our product support strategy? What kind of product support arrangements do we have with our PSIs & PSPs? When was the last time we reviewed the arrangements? Are they consistent with product support strategy?
  • What is our supply chain management approach? How did we arrive at that strategy and how do we know it is the most appropriate for our program?
  • What are our key program-level product support metrics?  Why?
  • Are your program office billets (or matrixed support) filled with sufficient personnel who have the required experience and training?
  • Are we resourced to execute the product support strategy outlined in our Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP)? When was our LCSP last updated? What changed since? When will it be revised?
  • Describe the linkage between our LCSP, the Acquisition Strategy (AS), the Systems Engineering Plan (SEP), and the Test & Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP).
  • Show me how product support planning and execution is incorporated into the program’s Integrated Master Plan (IMP) and Integrated Master Schedule (IMS)?
  • What is our technical data management strategy and what are the implications on long-term product support?
  • What is our Diminishing Manufacturing Sources & Material Shortages (DMSMS) and obsolescence mitigation strategy? How do we know?
  • What were the results of the most recent Independent Logistics Assessment (ILA)? What are our we doing about resolving shortfalls?
  • When was our Product Support BCA last updated? What were the results?
  • What is our depot source of repair (DSOR) approach?
  • What interface mechanism do we have with the warfighter/operator, assuming we're in Sustainment?
  • What role do you play in developing product support test & evaluation plans?
  • How extensive and how effective is your interface with the systems engineering community? How do we know or evaluate the effectiveness of that interface?
  • What are estimated product support costs across the system life cycle? Can we afford it? What kinds of Should Cost initiatives do you have in place to reduce them?
  • What are our key product support risks and what our mitigation plan(s)?
  • What is the single most significant product support issue we’re facing, and what are we doing about it?

 

Of course, there are plenty of other possible questions you could be asked – what did we miss? What others have you been asked or that you think you or your colleagues should be prepared to answer?