Published here June, 2004.

Introduction | Book Structure | Risk Management is for Adults
Notable Quotes | What We Liked | Downside | Summary 


This book is not an easy read. In the classic style of government writings, policies and procedures, the whole text is heavy with acronyms. Worse, there is no reference glossary for all these terms, so if you miss a definition with which you are not familiar, you have to go back and search for it. We found ourselves having to make copious marginal notes to keep track, some we suspect because they have been invented especially for this treatise.

Another pointer high-lighting the need for a glossary is that we encountered a number of terms with which were not familiar such as "rate production",[24] "Cost-Performance Slice"[25] and "technical possibility surface".[26] Or what precisely are "programmatic schedule decisions" and "inherent errors",[27] or "single process initiatives"?[28]

The text generally is poorly laid out. The language is ponderous in style, with many sentences unnecessarily long. For example we found schedule monitoring described as "the use of program schedule data to evaluate how well the program is progressing to completion vs the baseline schedule",[29] (20 words). Doesn't this simply mean "the tracking of actual progress against planned" (7 words)? Moreover, far too many paragraphs contain far too many sentences for comfortable reading and easy comprehension. For example, in one sentence we counted 57 words [30] and in one paragraph of 38 lines we found no less than 18 sentences.[31] The net effect is that there is little white space to rest the eye and little time for the mind to grasp the far-reaching issues.

A feature of the book is that many chapters display certain paragraphs in bold. These paragraphs are in the nature of sidebars but appear as continuity of the normal text. You can read these bolded text paragraphs, jumping from one to the next, to get a quick impression of the content of the section. Most of these paragraphs-in-bold repeat parts of the plain text word-for-word and appear at the end of the corresponding paragraph or discussion. It is true that repetition helps to drive home the message, but we found this constant "recycling" most distracting and eventually very irritating.

The central focus of Edmund's book is on project cost, performance, and schedule, or "C,P,S" as it is referred to.[32] Apparently, this is the major concern of US federal acquisition. From a risk management perspective, however, this seems to overlook the type of plausible risk events categorized as non-recurring, discrete one-time events such as fire, theft, suit or even bankruptcy, to say nothing of the risks arising from the vicissitudes of the corporate culture following a change in top management or the political environment. These types of non-recurring risks require subjective analysis, rather than the objective analysis possible in examining the recurring conditions of C,P,S.

What We Liked  What We Liked

24. Ibid. p1.
25. Ibid. p431.
26. Ibid. p13.
27. Ibid. p24.
28. Ibid. p14.
29. Ibid. p33.
30. Ibid. p16.
31. Ibid. p172.
32. Ibid. p1.
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