Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT April-June 2017 Contents words JCIDS, TR ADOC, AROC or JROC. The PM, how-
ever, has to know them and their implications inside and out.
• As a PM, you can dream all you want, but until you get money,
it is just a dream. The PPBE process, commonly thought of in
terms of its end product, the program objective memorandum,
is the process whereby the Army projects expenses and plans
what it is going to buy for the next five years.
• DAS is where the requirements and money come together and
become reality. This is the realm of the multilingual PM, the
PM’s native tongue. Terms such as ACAT (acquisition catego-
ry), EVM (earned value management) and Nunn-McCurdy
breach all come from here. (See “An Acquisition Lexicon,”
The first and most frequent mistake PMs make in learning these
languages is working only in their DAS bubble, and not in the
parts that overlap with PPBE or JCIDS. Too often PMs say,
“It’s the TCM’s job to figure out what the users want,” or, “The
money folks need to figure out how to fund that.” Statements
like that, while technically true, show a lack of initiative.
Don’t wait for other organizations to come up with the solu-
tion. Make the effort to figure out what the right solution should
be—whether it be requirements, money, etc.— then meld your
version of the right solution with your partner organizations’
solutions. If we as acquisition professionals spend the time and
effort to figure out what the right answer truly is, that will ben-
efit our external stakeholders as well. Most of the time, if you’ve
already figured out what the right answer is, your stakeholders
will tell you to go ahead and do it.
This mentality applies to the money folks as well. A PM facing
unfunded requirements should look inside the program first for
the right answer. Most programs have quite a bit of carryover,
which can be used for unfunded requirements. Funding require-
ments internally has the added benefit of driving up obligation
rates, which positions the PM perfectly to spend other people’s
money (say, from elsewhere in the PEO or G-8 portfolio) during
the end-of-fiscal-year, use-it-or-lose-it rush. It is a strange reality
in DOD that he who spends all his money usually receives more.
The second mistake PMs make is to assume that an opinion from
one bubble applies to another bubble. For instance, when asked
what, if any, ACAT (a DAS designation) applies to a program,
most PMs look at the front of their capability development
document or capability production document (JCIDS prod-
ucts). This is akin to asking your engineer what the budget
person thinks. If the PM does not have an ACAT determination
memo, then the program does not have an ACAT designation—
period. Similarly, a PM who builds something (based on the
DAS) that does not meet the requirements (based on JCIDS)
is likely to have a rude awakening when the time comes to pass
the next milestone.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People,” established a framework that hinges on first
winning the private victory, then winning the public victory. In
other words, look inside first, then go outside and conquer the
world. PMs must first learn to speak the various languages of
the many experts within a program office, leveraging all of their
expertise, and unite the entire program staff through a common
understanding to accomplish the mission.
Once PMs have mastered the many languages spoken in the
acquisition trenches of a PM shop, they are poised to take on the
structures and systems that frame and rule their world. So go
forth, multilingual PM, fully armed, and conquer your world.
For an overview of the acquisition “ language,” go to the Defense Acqui-
sition University Guidebook at https://dag.dau.mil/Pages/Default.
aspx and ACQuipedia at https://dap.dau.mil/acquipedia/Pages/
Default.aspx. For more information on effective leadership, visit
Covey’s website at https://www.stephencovey.com/blog/. Contact
the author at 703-806-0583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
COL. JOEL D. BABBITT is the PL WESS at Fort Belvoir,
Virginia. He previously served as the product manager for Warfighter
Information Network – Tactical Increment 1, and before that
as the product manager for command, control, communications,
computing and intelligence for a unit in the U.S . Special
Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He holds
an M.S . in computer science from the Naval Postgraduate School
and a B.S . in psychology from Brigham Young University, and is
a graduate of the U.S . Army Command and General Staff College
at Fort Lee, Virginia, and Austin, Texas. He is Level III certified
in program management and Level II certified in engineering
and in information technology. He holds the Project Management
Professional certification and is a member of the Army Space Cadre
and the Army Acquisition Corps.
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