100+ Rules for Large Program Managers

100+ Rules for Large Program Managers

100+ rules for project managers

While this list uses NASA terminology and claims to be for NASA, most items are relevant to most projects. A few are reproduced here:

Program Planning, Budgeting, and Estimating

Rule #72: Today one must push the state of the art, be within budget, take risks, not fail, and be on time. Strangely, all these are consistent as long as the ground rules such as funding profile and schedule are established up front and maintained.

Rule #73: Most of yesteryear’s projects overran because of poor estimates and not because of mistakes. Getting better estimates will not lower costs but will improve NASA’s business reputation. Actually, there is a high probability that getting better estimates will increase costs and assure a higher profit to industry unless the fee is reduced to reflect lower risk on the part of industry. A better reputation is necessary in the present environment.

Rule #74: All problems are solvable in time, so make sure you have enough schedule contingency—if you don’t, the next project manager that takes your place will.

Rule #75: The old NASA pushed the limits of technology and science; therefore, it did not worry about requirements creep or overruns. The new NASA has to work as if all projects are fixed price; therefore, requirement creep has become a deadly sin.

Rule #76: Know the resources of your center and, if possible, other centers. Other centers, if they have the resources , are normally happy to help. It is always surprising how much good help one can get by just asking.

Rule #77: Other than budget information prior to the President’s submittal to Congress, there is probably no secret information on a project—so don’t treat anything like it is secret. Everyone does better if they can see the whole picture so don’t hide any of it from anyone.

Rule #78: NASA programs compete for budget funds—they do not compete with each other (i.e., you never attack any other program or NASA work with the idea that you should get their funding). Sell what you have on its own merit.

Rule #79: Next year is always the year with adequate funding and schedule. Next year arrives on the 50th year of your career.

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