What We Liked
Chapter 1 starts out with a good discussion of project management "Concepts"
in which project, project management, the project manager's role, the hierarchy
of project management, organizational structures, and the project life span, are
all discussed in very clear terms. For example a project is defined as "basically
a unique endeavor that has a beginning and an end."
Can't argue with that, but as we all know, it's the bit in the middle that is
And what a problem it is. The project manager's role is illustrated by the
charming graphic shown in Figure 1. Guess we don't yet
have an icon to show a cell phone!
Figure 1: The elements of project management
The hierarchy of project management lists in descending order: organizational
strategy, Portfolio, program, and project. While all four are explained, together
with PMO (that may stand for anything somewhere in between), the rest of the book
covers only the workings of a single project.
The Project Management Life Cycle is well explained as follows:
"The PMBOK® Guide describes five key process groups that govern
the work of project management: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and
controlling, and closing. These processes have a natural progression inherent
in the work, and they must be used in conjunction with a life cycle that covers
the phases of the project. The life cycle you choose should reflect the type of
work being performed."
It is nice to see an author who has got it so clear and so right. However,
Claudia might have added that the project life span that you do choose should
reflect the control needs of the performing organization - especially if project
portfolio management is involved.
The project management "technical" content, i.e. examples
associated with creating a WBS, estimating, scheduling, risk and so on, are generally
illustrated by a project whose preliminary scope objective is described as follows:
"To provide a customer service training class that is faster than
today's three-month class. The Measure of Performance for this project is:
Driver: Reduce customer service representative training time by more than 50%
Restriction: Customer complaints do not increase more than 2%
- Current state documentation
- Training time reduction approach documentation
- Customer service representative training reduced by more than 50%"
The examples and sample templates provided are worked in considerable detail
and will be particularly useful for the novice reader.
The case study that we mentioned on the previous page is about a lady named
Chris Williams who is suddenly assigned to a critical project by none other than
the organization's CEO herself. Of course, the project is large, large enough
to encompass all the things that the book needs to illustrate. Chris is new to
the organization but she has a long list of lessons learned acquired from the
successful management of a lot of smaller projects. Her new project is to manage
the launch event of a new subsidiary company's web site and its catalogue product
line at a world trade show. Technically,
this project is in a different category from her previous IT work, but practically
it falls into the same genre as an IT project.
It turns out that Chris Williams is an impossible paragon of project management
virtue. As well as planning the project, Chris manages the education and expectations
of her boss, and holds regular one-on-one meetings with her various critical project
stakeholders. These stakeholders are broken down into Champions, whom you need
to get to know personally; Influencers, whom you apparently need to shower with
information; and Challengers, whom you need to get to know by seeking them out.
Each of these groups also has special communications requirements.
In Chapter 7 on Communications we learn that you must also get to know the
"Recipients" of your project's product. As Claudia admonishes us: "Just make sure
you do your homework and really understand how these people work."
That alone could be a full time job.
Of course Chris dutifully holds regular project progress meetings, coaches
her team members, and spends time on the detailed workup of required project management
tools and techniques. Because of the nature of the project, we find that Chris
also has to manage the corporate rumor mill, the solution to which is to make
sure "you finish according to the triple constraints."
The project lasts for around nine months,
and on important occasions, we learn that Chris gets to the office at 6 a.m.
In all, we estimate that Chris must work at least forty-eight hours a day (well,
we did say she is an impossible paragon of virtue.) We would not be a bit surprised
to learn that Chris was completely burned out by the start of the day at 8 a.m.
In point of fact, the final tradeshow event did not go quite as well as it
might have. Still, the CEO seemed to be well pleased because no sooner than Chris
had returned to her desk the day after the end of the project, she received the
"Since you've done such a phenomenal job with this launch, let's start
talking about your next assignment. Come see me tomorrow afternoon."
Apparently, Chris knew that this is the price you pay for being good at what
you do, and perhaps this is a good time to broach the subject of a pay raise?
Well, we can genuinely say - you bet it is!
11. Ibid, p4
12. Ibid, p11
13. Ibid p59
14. Ibid, p16
15. Ibid, p93
16. Ibid, p236
17. Ibid, p231. This statement is followed by Table 7.9
that is a five-page general description, pages 231 to 235, and the advice:
"Now you really need to get down to the fine details" on p236. This is further
elaborated by specific details shown in Table 7.10, pages 237 to 242.
18. Ibid, p415
19. Ibid, p149
20. Ibid, p415
21. Ibid, p456