Published here November, 2003.

Introduction | First Impressions | Shifts in Focus
Comments on Other Chapters | Downside | Summary


As before, author Russell Archibald has produced a valuable work of reference, elaborating on and clarifying many aspects of his earlier writings. As the cover jacket says "A complete, practical, and proven approach to managing large-scale projects with emphasis on those involving advanced technology."

But back to our original question: Does our comparison reveal anything really new in the field of project management since the first edition in 1976? Well, yes and no. The field has undoubtedly been expanded into the higher echelons of management with portfolio and multi-project management. Some new techniques have been developed; particularly those supported by the ubiquitous personal computer and dedicated project management software. But whether any basic fundamentals have since emerged is debatable.

Indeed, in 1976 Russ observed that[36]

"No single organizational pattern has yet emerged to answer the following project management questions:
  • How will the project manager responsibilities be assigned?
  • To whom should the project manager report? At what level, and within which part of the organization?
  • Who should be assigned as full-time project office members reporting only to the project manager, and who should contribute as project participants while remaining in their functional departments?
  • How are specialist staff skills in project planning and control, contract administration, finance, legal, and so on, best provided to project managers?
  • Who is responsible for development and operation of multi-project, integrated project planning and control systems?
  • Who should hold specific responsibility for multi-project management?"

These are pretty basic questions, and you would have thought that by now they would have been resolved in the form of "best practices". But no, we find that exactly the same text appears in the 2003 version.[37] So much for progress in the intervening period.

Indeed, an interesting if subtle transformation has taken place between the two writings. The first edition was clearly written in the prescriptive mode, that is, directing the reader on what to do. To the extent that the original work is incorporated into this latest version, this is still true. However, much of the new material in this latest version is abstracted from the work of the extensive list of authors shown in the bibliography. Not only does this then become descriptive, i.e. relating the work of others, but also one is left with the feeling that you need to obtain those original works to properly understand the text presented.

Nevertheless, this latest edition is a valuable addition to your personal library. But if you happen to still have a copy of the first edition, we strongly recommend you keep it for the valuable material it contained but is now no longer included.

Downside  Downside

36. '76, p79.
37. '03, p145.
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