Published here October, 2009

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These days, "project" is a common enough word used with hardly a second thought. We have school projects, homework projects, and hobby projects, to say nothing of an overabundance of projects in the burgeoning information technology industry. It seems that projects are everywhere. But what of the projects that we encounter everyday or, more accurately, the products of those projects to which we give little thought?

Serious projects like our water supply, power supply, roads, rail, airports, harbours, in fact infrastructure of all kinds and all of the devices that go with them like automobiles, trains, aircraft and ships? When we see a huge dam straining against the massive volume of water in its reservoir, or an elegant bridge under heavy traffic, calmly resisting the force of gravity, how often do we ask: "How did they manage to do that?"

And if we did ask the question, maybe we are referring to how they came up with the design or how they put it together. Rarely do we think about how did they manage the entire enterprise - how did they decide what projects such as these would be needed, whether they would be worthwhile investments, and what risks would be involved. These projects are difficult because they involve a high level of investment or are very tightly controlled with limited funds.

Such projects typically involve a large number of people or a mix of highly diverse specialists and their respective interests. And they involve high levels of risk whether financial, physical safety, or both, and often call on broadly based international sourcing of materials and equipment. That's what André Costin's book: Managing Difficult Projects is about and, because these questions are seldom asked of difficult projects like these, this book is unique.

In composing this work, author André Costin brings to bear a formidable diversity of practical experience having been exposed to a variety of large or small, complex and difficult projects. His responsibilities in program, project and procurement management have enabled him to grapple with the more specialized and finer points of project definition, strategy, logistics, organization and people management in such projects. This is over and above the expected exposure to typical project management activities such as scheduling, budgeting cost and risk management. So, he treats his subjects in depth, not as an academic but in a dual-pathed business career as a practicing engineering manager and management consultant.

André has been managing his own company, Xemplar Inc. Management Consultants since 1990. In this role and as a management consultant with Kates Peat Marwick and Deloitte and Touche Management Consultants, André has delivered many assignments to assist, manage and facilitate the processes of corporate strategic planning, programming, and evaluation of major capital programs and projects. Through this experience he has gained an intimate knowledge of projects such as those described in his book, which focuses on both the delivery of individual projects as well as on the global framework for multi-project capital budgeting and programming.


1. Costin, A. A., Managing Difficult Projects, published by Elsevier in the UK, 2008
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