Project Management, Tenth Edition
by Dennis Lock, 2013
General Observations: Overview and Techniques
This book by author Dennis Lock is very well written in plain straightforward
easy-to-understand English. As we'll discuss shortly, it is comprehensive in its
scope and covers many practical aspects of managing a project not normally covered
in currently available project management texts. Further, the chapters are well
illustrated with diagrams, illustrations and templates, not just to ensure the
reader's understanding, but many suitable for immediate adoption in the course
of an ongoing project. This is the sort of stuff you need when actually conducting
Rather than dwell on the parts covering typical project management theory,
instead we will highlight some of the extraordinary practical instruction that
we came across as we worked through the list of chapters. For example, Chapter
1 reminds us that project management is not a new invention dreamed up by modern
professional associations, but rather the codification of practices undoubtedly
employed since prehistoric times. Chapter 2 draws attention to adverse factors
(omissions) in the project formative phases, and the benefits of focus on performance
(quality), time and cost during execution. These are complete with practical recommendations
and words of wisdom in both cases.
For example: "A project not started on time can hardly be expected to finish
on time." Another example: "Consultation is always better than confrontation."
Such recommendations provide the essential ingredients for an ultimately successfully
project in terms of realizing intended benefits and satisfying stakeholder interests.
Yet advice like this is rarely found in standard project management instruction.
In a book this size, it is obviously not possible to pick out from every chapter
all the comments - and humor - that we would like. However, the following are
some highlights that we found particularly helpful and that resonated with our
own past experience. Project management texts typically assume that successful
project outcomes emanate from a carefully defined and justified original intent.
But Chapter 3 (Defining the Project) includes a section: "Projects Which
are Difficult or Impossible to Define".
The author recognizes that "there are projects that are so complex, or are surrounded
by so much uncertainty, that they cannot be defined adequately before work starts."
The author illustrates in a bar chart how such projects are dealt with through
"stage-gating", with funding released in corresponding "tranches".
Chapter 4 provides a good description and practical advice on "Estimating Project
Costs" that will be of particular interest to the civil and building industries.
Of special note is the range of "Above-the-line" costs that fall within the control
of the project manager as compared to the considerable "Below-the-line" add-ons
that are not. Chapter 6 (Financial
Appraisal and the Business Plan) takes the reader deeper into financial territory
with "Different Viewing Platforms for the Project Investor and the Project Contractor",
"Introduction to Project Financial Appraisal Methods", and "Project Funding".
While many people might say that these are not a normal part of the project manager's
remit, nevertheless they represent essential knowledge for the project manager
on larger projects. The book even demonstrates its usefulness by including a "Table
of discount factors for calculating net present values".
Chapters 9, 10 and 11 (Project Organization Structures; Organization and Initial
Conduct of Management Change and IT Projects; and The Project Manager and Associated
Roles, respectively) tackle the vital area of people management. After describing
different types of project organization, we learn about "Which Type of Project
organization is Best" and their consequential effects, obviously in a variety
of environments. As the author observes:
"It is not possible to discuss organizational structures in any depth of detail
without the aid of charts." Seven
widely different arrangements are shown in subsequent sections. Apparently, in
some circles such charts are called "organigrams".
That's the first time we have come across this term, but we will take the author's
word for it.
Chapter 10 highlights the tricky "Special Characteristics of Management Change
Projects" with some of the following observations:
"Although management change projects and IT projects range from small internal
ventures to multi-million pound projects, they share common characteristics.
- They are usually high-risk projects, often with the potential to bring either
valuable benefits or disaster to the project owner;
- The successful outcome of a management change project depends particularly
on the cooperation of staff in accepting changes that can sometimes profoundly
affect their jobs or even their lifetime careers;
- Research leading to project definition and a business plan must often be conducted
confidentially. Leakage of information has to be prevented during the conceptual
stages when some of the ideas under consideration might be only remote possibilities.
If those discussions are leaked, unfounded rumors will soon take on a credibility
Author Dennis Lock adds: "Given a sound business plan, management change and
IT projects will stand the greatest chance of success if project execution is
entrusted to a task force." These
and other thoughts are supported by a substantial case example.
5. Ibid, p23
6. Ibid, p33
7. Ibid, pp56-57
8. Ibid, pp91, 95 and 104 respectively
9. Ibid, p99
10. Ibid, p145
11. Ibid, p131
13. Ibid, p155