Published here December, 2005.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Summary


Our reading of the book gave us the impression that it is largely descriptive of the author's experience with a major US contractor and their institutionalized project management setup working in the trenches on large government contracts. So it reflects what they did rather than what the author recommends you should generally do on your projects. We found some of the illustrative examples a little banal and patronizing such as the description of the use of the game show "Wheel of Fortune" that introduces the Introduction in Chapter 1. We also found the logic of some of the diagrams difficult to follow[13] and the bulleted lists a little wild and chaotic.[14] Indeed, some of them are quite long and, we feel, could have been better organized into meaningful sub-lists.[15]

Thomas's discussion of traits/skills for a successful project manager may or may not be relevant in a book on financially focused project management, but we found this text to be a bit overdone and not very focused until we got to the observation that "The project manager should spend a good deal of time maintaining a consciousness of the financial aspects of his or her organization."[16] That's fine, but is just "consciousness" sufficient?

In discussing Human Aspects (Chapter 3) and the Project Team (Chapter 4), Thomas recounts some pretty basic stuff about project people management including organizational structures and culture. While the ability to manage people is fundamental to successful project management, we did not feel that this added a lot to the intended financial focus.

On the subject of performance measurement, Thomas observes that:

"In most instances, the success of a project is measured by its profitability."[17]

Certainly that is a contractor's perspective, but not necessarily that of the project owner. For the owner, benefits may take time to materialize and be measured in other terms such as "Being on schedule is one of the determinants of a successful project."[18]

It is not until we get to Chapters 11 and 12 that we see an Introduction to Financially Focused Project Management and a discussion of its components. This includes advice on training in the "methodologies for company-wide and scholastic education on key financial considerations" that we noted in the description in our Introduction. For those not familiar with contractors' cost tracking systems, such topics as financial and cost accounting, accounting classifications, direct costs versus indirect costs, labor and non-labor cost allocations and overheads, and how to distinguish between them, will be of interest. Also the role of time keeping cards, coding structures, the makeup of labor rates for estimating and forecasting, will make for interesting comparisons.

Still, we found the material to be rather elementary and poorly organized so that at the end of the day we were really no clearer on what is particularly special about Financially Focused Project Management.

What We Liked  What We Liked

13. Example: Figure 1.1, on p 8
14. Example: Socioeconomic Environment bullet list, p13
15. The bullet list on pp38-39 contains 25 important traits, yet does not include those in a related Figure 3.2: Core Traits/Skills. The Project Planning Steps bullet list, pp123-4 contains 23 items in a seemingly haphazard sequence.
16. Ibid, p45
17. Ibid, p155
18. Ibid, p160
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