The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the author.
Published here August 2021

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked | Book's Purpose
Obstacles to Project Success | The 10 Principles of Project Success
Downside | Conclusion


Given the author's extensive and solid background of project management experience, it is difficult to be critical of any part of his book's content. If anything, I might suggest a little more emphasis on a couple of very difficult areas. For the first, one of the headlines reads: "The benefits that the project is designed to deliver — perhaps the most challenging element."[29] This is typical of rather loose language. In the case of a large majority of projects, they do not deliver any benefits, instead they provide the means to benefits, when their products are completed, accepted and activated. To put this more clearly, the project's personnel are not responsible for benefits — that is the responsibility of operations personnel.[30]

For the second instance, under the heading: "Recognizing when you are no longer progressing", it says:[31]

"It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that a project meets, or exceeds, the expected quality. Any project for which the outcome becomes unfit for purpose needs to be cancelled."

These two statements are very typical of contractual legalese. Certainly any work produced must be up to some specified standard. However, exceeding the standard to any significant extent could result in unjustified expenditure. Cancelling a project, on the other hand, means literally throwing away all moneys spent so far, together with committed expenditures, to say nothing of facing the reactions of major stakeholders and their potential law suites. No one likes to abandon a project and be held responsible for doing so — certainly not at the project manager level.

Better by far is to find a way of repurposing the work to date so that it is not all a total loss.

The 10 Principles of Project Success  The 10 Principles of Project Success

29. Ibid, p61
30. Yes, I know that some people will argue that the delivery of actual benefits is included in their project mandate. If that is the case, then in my opinion that is a mistake in project design, because it means that there has to be included a significant change in management function once the capability has been created.
31. Ibid, p84
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