Program Management

Force Multipliers for Your Organization: PT 1. What is a Program Manager?

Introduction: Carla Walker, Director of Program Management is opening the curtain and sharing the specialized expertise that generates excellence here at Arlo. Enjoy Part 1 of this 3-part series. Watch below or read the transcript. Program Managers are truly force multipliers in any organization


Today, I want to spend some time with you to discuss the benefits of having a program management office within your organization or securing dedicated program managers for your government contracts.

I worked on the project once and someone described a PM’s role as a conductor of an orchestra. That always resonated with me. A conductor, by definition, brings a unified vision to the music. Program managers do just that. They bring structure when there’s a bit of chaos.

You ask how? Let’s describe some of the responsibilities and value add a program manager brings to either an organization or specifically a government contract.

The important services PMs offer are Being a change agent, implementation management, maintenance and oversight, and lastly, oversee compliance and risk.

Program managers are accustomed to change. It’s what they do, what they are hired for. And the more seasoned PM you are, the more experience you have in this area.

Change is inevitable. And in order for a company to be successful, they need these individuals in place. A change agent champions change, whether that is advocating for new processes or influencing others to change in strategic direction. As a change agent, PMs have to be effective networkers and skilled communicators to get buy in from their audience.

As we all know, most individuals are a bit resistant to change. PMs need to be able to tailor their communication depending on the stakeholder.

For example, when communicating with senior-level executives, you should be succinct and always solution-ready. Whereas, when you are working with business stakeholders, or otherwise, executors within a program, the communication style should be more direct and intentional, oftentimes detail-oriented. Part of being a skilled communicator requires being an active listener.

Oftentimes the scope of a contract is determined by executive leadership with the big picture in mind. However, the responsibility will be the executor’s Or the business’ representatives to implement that vision.

It is the PM’s responsibility to listen to all impacted members and find solutions that work for that subset of individuals. The PM should also advocate for those that may not have the ability to get the attention in key areas. The PMs can do this by reporting risks and issues back to the sponsor, client, directors when gaps are identified.

An effective PM should also take it a step further with their change agent responsibilities and always lead by example. No one likes it when someone is simply barking orders at them. A PM should be able to lean in and roll up their sleeves and walk the walk to advocate for that change. If the program manager is not supporting the change, it will less likely be adopted.

The PMP enforces the requirement for continuous education in our field. PMs should always be analyzing the newest process, methodologies, and technologies to be beneficial to an organization or contract.

What better way for an organization to measure if a new and improved process or product will work than to have someone that has managed such a variety project. They know firsthand what went well and what doesn’t through their observations and bring those lessons learned for future efforts.


Want to skip to Part III? Watch here.

About the Author

Carla Walker

With 20 years of experience, Carla is a leader among peers with a proven record of project management success. Her experience includes leading over 50 business and technology projects using both agile and waterfall methods, with budgets exceeding $5 million, stakeholders of 100+, supporting 20+applications, and timelines exceeding 5 years, working in the financial and educational technology industry. In addition to her PMP, Carla is also a certified ScrumMaster. She also holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland.