what is a program manager

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Get to Know the MRIGlobal Staff: What is a Program Manager?


When you work with MRIGlobal, we strive to bring the best outcomes to your project. We are diligent in delivering the perfect solution within your scope, budget, and time constraints. While each member of our staff dedicates time and extreme effort to give you the best results, our program managers are the ones who monitor and control all aspects of the project. They oversee your project to reduce risk and make the process more simple for you. 

MRIGlobal is a not-for-profit contract research organization based in Kansas City. We  specialize in defense, human health, pharmaceutical sciences, in-vitro diagnostics, energy,  agriculture, and global health. Our solution-driven teams are dedicated to finding answers that will make the country and world safer for all. 

Read on to learn more about what a program manager is and how program management enhances the flow and efficacy of a project. 

What is a program manager?

A program manager is a professional role designed to:

  • Manage programs and projects
  • Communicate with the client to understand the scope, budget, and schedule
  • Ensure the project is being executed within those above constraints 

Program managers at MRIGlobal deal with a lot of moving parts. For example, if they are securing projects, the process starts with identifying work opportunities, working with a business development team, developing relationships with clients up front, and finding ways to best help the clients and use our skill sets for their benefit. 

This initial exercise cascades into writing proposals, refining contracts, and working with pricing to define the budget and schedule requirements. In many cases, our projects require subcontractors, so the project manager also becomes a focal point between the subcontractor and the program. 

Program managers maintain our standards for organization. By having multiple project managers, we are able to better serve our clients as some project managers focus mainly on biology while others may specialize in chemistry. A huge benefit for our clients is how our program managers understand the engineering capabilities we can bring to each and every program or project, especially if they are deployed overseas. 

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As a leader of the program, it is up to the program manager to staff the project with the appropriate personnel, depending on the client’s need. This may take the form of working with engineers in some aspects, working with chemists in another, or it may be a combination of various specializations such as an interdisciplinary team. Program managers ensure the right people with the right skills are on a project. Together they accomplish the project goals.  

Our program managers also serve as an internal consultant to our management and to our clients. We understand clients have their own contract, approvals, and facilities they have to go through to approve a project. Therefore, we spend a lot of time helping them get through their processes to streamline communication and maneuver efficiently through some of the bureaucracy. The main purpose of most of our programs is to expedite what our clients need. 

One of the biggest challenges we often face, yet overcome, is our clients’ needs for novel solutions. In many cases, we are building projects or setting out programs that have never been  done. So as we are trying to create solutions for our clients, there are always risks that are involved or problems that could arise. Fortunately, our skillset and experienced program managers are able to press through day-to-day challenges to create work that satisfies our clients’ needs within the schedule they outlined. 

Benefits of MRIGlobal’s Program Management System

With program management, we are better equipped to deliver the best outcomes and innovative solutions, quickly and efficiently. We are meticulous with our projects, outlining everything we need to do for you and your organization. With our approach of following the trifecta of program management—quality, cost, and schedule—we can deliver positive results for our clients, regardless of scope. 

Because our program managers pull from specialized expertise, our process comes with many advantages that benefit you and your team. Here are a few benefits you can experience when  working with our project managers. 

Specialization and adaptability

Not only are program managers able to help get work done quickly, we are also able to provide specialized work–even if we have to subcontract. Technical challenges that stem from specialization are immense, but that only keeps our team engaged. As a small company, we are nimble. We are able to provide customized treatment and can adapt and adjust quickly. We can readily switch gears or make changes, and that flexibility keeps our clients coming back. Your success is our mission. We will do what is required to address your needs. 

Along with specialization is our ability to adapt a project to an evolving budget. For many of our clients, schedule is the primary driver. They know the completion deadline, but they don’t know what it is going to cost. In many cases, they will have some funding available but typically won’t have enough. For instance, a client may be incrementally funded. As a result, we are always writing proposals, revisiting and updating proposals, and reviewing scope changes if the budget changes. Our project managers ask, “What kind of changes do we need to make? How do we switch gears to meet those changes? And do those changes still reach the primary objective?”

Monitoring strict budgets

Budgeting is a large aspect of program management and can be a huge deal for certain organizations, especially government bodies. Government contracts often have spend rates, meaning they have to spend a certain amount of money by a certain time (e.g., end of the fiscal year). Our program managers constantly work with them to monitor how fast or slow we’re spending to try to expedite the process. If we do not pay attention to those factors, that client may not get their budgets obligated and spent within the allotted time frame, risking what they receive the following year.

Even if you don’t come from a government body, we are diligent to remain within budget. Our program managers work with clients and our team to maximize budgets–without compromising needs. While this may take some strategic planning on our part, we thrive in this environment to deliver the perfect solution. As a result, there isn’t often a project we can’t do or won’t strive to do, regardless of the budget constraints. 

Strong communication for unique solutions 

Sometimes our clients will come to us with an overarching idea of what they want, but they don’t necessarily provide requirements and specifications that make it easy to execute those wants. Therefore, our program managers promote discussions and communication with the client to make sure we can suggest ideas that will best achieve their needs. Details matter, so we continue meeting with clients to get clear insight, early. We never want to give our clients one thing when they were expecting something completely different. 

Thorough communication fosters strong relationships. Program managers communicate with the client, it’s a rewarding experience. However, project managers also interface with their team. Together they can build comradery among colleagues. That dynamic translation by project managers between the client and our team helps make the process smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.  

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Ability to work with different points of contact

With our success and solid reputation, most of our clients are repeat clients. However, with each new project, we don’t often work with the same person. With our program management, we can work with organizations that are always in flux. Even if a company is constantly reorganizing, we adapt our communication accordingly. We expect change and it provides us the opportunity to build more advocates and cheerleaders. Change also encourages us to deliver our best work regardless of our contact today.  

Learn more about our program managers at MRIGlobal

For more than 75 years, MRIGlobal has advanced scientific research across a variety of industries, and we focus on supporting better health outcomes on a global scale. For us, it’s not simply about science; it’s about the people who make it all happen. 

We are solution-driven. We find answers, even in the most complex situations. Through our dedication, we can solve virtually any technical problem. 

If you’re part of an agency, business, or academic institution seeking help with a project, use our Project Quote Tool to get started today. 

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