Before you Begin

Closed Captioning

The close captioning software we currently use is not 100% accurate. Not even close at times. It takes a while to edit the script and align it with the actual video. We are working on it. Some of you might prefer to turn off close captioning. If not you will be entertained at times .

Browser Compatibility

This site should work with any browser, to include those on smart phones. If you have any problems, let us know!

Videos and Downloads

We provide numerous videos and downloadable forms and worksheets. Almost all the videos are under 3 minutes in length, many 2 minutes or less. Formal videos are the exception rather than the rule. We create them intentionally as informal discussions, much like stepping into our offices and having a conversation. The smart phone is our camera of choice.


The only way this evolves is through your feedback! Please provide feedback on how this works for you!

  • Is the guide clearly explained?
  • Is it usable?
  • Do the videos enhance the learning/application experience?
  • What can we do even better?

No suggestion is too small. If you see it, write us about it! Email Pat Barker at for all comments - good, bad and ugly.

Why You Care

The anchor for maintaining situational awareness across the Government program management office (no matter what size or shape) is an integrated master schedule (IMS) that rests upon a foundation called an integrated master plan (IMP). We will hopefully convince you of that as you work through the videos and guides offered in this online advice tool.

Any conversation about an IMP needs to start with proper context regarding integrated program planning. One of the best pieces of guidance in your arsenal to set the stage for integrated program planning is the recently rewritten Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG). We highly recommend you click on the link below to review the DAG, especially its Chapter 1 on program management.

guidebook icon Defense Acquisition Guidebook

In the video clip below, former DoD senior executive Dave Ahern provides a short background on the re-writing of the DAG when it came to program planning.

video icon DAG Program Management Chapter Development with IMP

There are plenty of places “out there” on the internet to have conversations about integrated program planning. Click HERE to take you to one of them called “Herding Cats.” The bottom line is that integrated program planning – one product of which is an IMP – is neither rocket science nor anything new, and it applies to any program or portfolio of any size. Having said that, rest assured it is no small feat to make it happen. It takes work, and it takes a team to do it.

The Integrated Master Plan

Talk about one of the least appreciated, most underutilized and yet one of the most powerful and intuitive tools in program management! Yes, we are talking about the Integrated Master Plan, or IMP.

The IMP converts the Leader’s Intent into something that is integrated into the program planning and execution structure… which means the whole program team can march to same tune! An IMP is not rocket science. As DAU Professor Pat Barker notes below in the video, an IMP is simple, intuitive and effective.

video icon Are We there Yet? SA and IMP

An example: An even more compelling story about the practical use of the IMP comes from Colonel Todd “Einstein” Wiest, USAF Senior Materiel Leader responsible for multiple strategic warning & surveillance systems at Peterson AFB, Colorado. Colonel Wiest not only led the development of an IMP for a portfolio of systems in sustainment, but he recognized the cultural and behavioral implications and thus integrated the effort with a framework for thinking and behavior (called Emergenetics®) used in many DAU workshops across the country.

Click HERE to hear Colonel Wiest’s 8-minute chat about his IMP and how he uses it in his command

Remember the Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG) that we talked about in the beginning? If you look closely at Chapter 1, Sections 3 and 4 you will see that much goes into the thinking behind an IMP. While you are at it, take a look at the video from former DoD senior executive Dave Ahern as he explains the thinking behind those particular sections

video icon DAG Chapter 1, Focus on Sections 3 and 4

Building your IMP in Four Easy Steps

Graphic showing four steps for building your IMP

1: Identify major program events
2: list significant accomplishments
3: list acomplishment criteria
4: list and order tasks for each criteria

The following video provides some amplification in how one might go about building an IMP.

video icon IMP 101


Actions to get the 80% IMP


THIS MUST PRECEDE ANY IMP DISCUSSION: The PM and key leads, along with the program scheduler, gather in a single room. Get a white board. Plan to stay about 4 hours. And commit to using the IMP as a decision tool!


Identify the major decision points of the program (program events)


For each program event, list what the program needs to have accomplished (significant accomplishment) in order to consider that event complete (“done”) . There must always be at least 2 SAs for every PE … you will need to iterate this conversation!


For each significant accomplishment, list the observable conditions (accomplishment criteria) that MUST be present in order for that accomplishment to truly happen (be “done”) . There must always be at least 2 ACs for every SA. This is also an iterative conversation.


List the tasks – and their sequencing and relationships – required to reach each accomplishment criteria (the schedule or IMS). Like the others, it is an iterative conversation, and don’t be surprised if your investigation of tasks will necessitate altering your SA’s and AC’s

What is your REAL “percent complete”?

Every program ought to be able to develop an integrated master plan (IMP) – it is not rocket science and can be done to the “80% good enough level” rather quickly. An IMP answers the question: “What does ‘done’ look like?” The two video clips below are what we call “Defense Acquisition Dialogues.” In these particular clips, which run about 20 minutes each, we have several senior acquisition professions talk about the use and value of IMPs. They are worth the watch!

video icon IMP Dialogue Part 1

video icon IMP Dialogue Part 2

The IMP articulates how metrics (measures of effectiveness, measures of performance, technical performance measures and other relevant accomplishment criteria) shape critical program decisions. The IMP will accurately define a program architecture – a frame of reference for decision-making – consistent with the program’s acquisition plan and other relevant planning documents such as those for systems engineering, test & evaluation and operations & support.

Used correctly, an IMP helps everything be consistent with one another and clearly articulates what program leadership is looking for at major decision points. The video clip from Lenny Manning, former Center Director for Contracting, shows how an IMP is used by the head of contracting programs at DAU.

video icon Use of IMP at DAU

The program manager MUST lead the IMP creation efforts and MUST actually use the IMP as a basis for making program decisions or else this will not work and simply become an academic exercise. Walk the talk!! The video clip below provides some reminders for program leaders who are considering the use of IMPs.

video icon IMP Thoughts from a Leader’s Perspective

So got forth and make your IMP happen, be it on white board, sticky notes, spreadsheet or any other medium. It works!