Published here July, 2005.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Summary


We might have titled this piece "Painless Project Management Learning" but we need to stick to the title of the book. In it, authors Tom and Jeff Mochal have created a fictional world of a large corporate company called "Mega Manufacturing". We are told that Mega Manufacturing is the fifth largest manufacturer in the nation.[1] Presumably, the nation is the USA but what the company manufactures is not clear. What is clear is that they have a large Information Technology (IT) department where projects abound, project managers abound and, of course, problems abound.

It seems that the organization has just discovered the need to improve the efficiency and success rate of their projects to which end they have created the position of "project management advisor". "Tom" is that advisor and the book is written like a diary of events spanning a whole year, from the snow falling in January, to the final annual Christmas lunch.

Through the course of the year, you get to meet the members of Tom's family, and many of Tom's coworkers and brief snippets of their individual backgrounds and family life. Into this, is woven the project management activities and problems of the company's project managers that Tom meets and, of course, to whom he dispenses his unfailing wisdom.

By the end of the book, you feel that not only do you know Tom and his family but also the company and his coworkers. Along the way, hopefully, you have digested fifty valuable lessons in project management. Each lesson learned illustrates a key issue associated with one of the ten steps in Tom Mochal's TenStep®[2] project management methodology. As Tom says:

This book represents my 24 years of experience working on projects, managing projects, and managing people who manage projects. Like most project managers when they start out, I did not sit down and learn project management before I started managing projects. Initially, managing projects just meant determining what needed to be done and then working with one or more people to get it done. After managing projects a few times, I became more comfortable planning out work and managing it to completion. These projects ranged from small and large enhancements projects to multi-million dollar initiatives.[3]

Tom Mochal's experience includes building a Project Management Office and deploying formal project management processes through a worldwide IT organization.[4] But as Tom says of his book "The marketplace is full of project management books, columns, best practices, tips and traps. The question is not, 'Can you find project management content?'. The question is 'Will you remember it at the appropriate time to apply it on your project?'"


1. Mochal, T., and J. Mochal, Lessons in Project Management, Apress, CA, 2003, p8
2. You can find details of the TenStep project management methodology at
3. Mochal, T., and J. Mochal, Lessons in Project Management, Apress, CA, 2003, pXXV
4. Ibid.
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