Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2016 Contents you and establish your own e ective relationship between your
program o ce and your contractor teammates?
SETTING THE BASELINE
In another moment of re ection, you decide not to take the
greased-skids route that appears to be laid out before you. at's
because you know that, historically, DOD has a mixed record
of getting it right from program start to rst-article delivery. At
some point, programs depart from cost and schedule expec-
tations, leading to a new program baseline, restructuring or,
ultimately, termination. All too often, one of the root causes
for this worst-case outcome is a poor relationship between the
government and contractor based upon misaligned or unrealis-
For example, the level of risk in executing the program can
vary wildly between the government and the contractor, lead-
ing to con ict and disagreement early in the program life cycle.
Both the contractor and government leadership must align their
expectations of risk to have any hope of succeeding.
Instead of producing an APB document immediately, you decide
rst to have what is perhaps the most important meeting in the
life of a program, the initial integrated baseline review (IBR)
after the MS B decision. While you deeply respect the e orts
of those who brought the program to this point, and you have
con dence that the source selection process chose the right con-
tractor, you are not entirely convinced that all concerned fully
understand the program. You want reassurance that the contrac-
tor and the government team view the program requirements
through a common lens. is requires that you understand all
aspects of the program by applying a systems engineering analy-
sis in which requirements are decomposed for better clarity and
resources are allocated against those requirements. Only then
can you truly establish an e ective, high-performing relation-
ship between government and contractor.
BUILDING THE RELATIONSHIP
e initial IBR allows you and your contractor teammates to
better understand the requirements for the program, ensure
proper allocation of the resources across the work breakdown
structure (WBS) and reach a common perspective on the pro-
gram risks---in e ect, to o cially begin your execution of the
program from a common starting point.
is review also allows you and the contractor team to better
understand each other and establish a collaborative relationship
based on professionalism and trust rather than intimidation and
suspicion. It gives you an opportunity to assess any gaps in plan-
ning or overly enthusiastic decisions that may have been made in
the run-up to the MS B decision. In e ect, it is the rst point at
which you, as the PM, can x de ciencies in program planning,
either on the government side or in the contractor's proposal.
It is also the rst opportunity in the program for you and your
contractor counterparts to truly dig into the details and deter-
mine if you can actually execute the program in accordance with
the contractor's baseline re ecting actual program resources, in
lieu of program cost estimates and contractor proposals. You are
e ectively validating how the contractor allocated the program
ONE TEAM, ONE GOAL
It's not just the specifics of an acquisition program---the funding,
the vendor's track record, the technology readiness level, etc.---that
posture it for success. It's also the relationship between the government
personnel, led by the PM, and the contractors assigned to the program.
Developing a collaborative, trusting, high-performing relationship takes
time and clear, open communication on goals and expectations.
A COMMON UNDERSTANDING
Before signing the APB, it is advisable for a PM to conduct an IBR. If the
APB is the most important acquisition document that a PM must produce
after the MS B decision, the initial IBR is perhaps the most important post-
MS B meeting in the life of a program. It can go a long way to cement a
common understanding among the government and contractor personnel
of program requirements and resources.
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