Published here February, 2004.

Introduction | Book Structure
What We Liked | Downside | Summary


There are very few downsides really, more in the nature of personal obsessions. For example:

  • In discussing effective cost management as an elusive objective, Harvey suggests that there are three causes of this failure:[22]
    1. Difficulty of synchronizing the timing for the progress measurements and the cost measurements
    2. Linking the project management systems to the accounting systems
    3. The tendency to set up different measurement categories for the progress and cost
  • In our view, there are some activity and cost categories that are necessarily measured and applied differently such as overhead and supervision items. Hence the two will never be 100% compatible. In any case, to his list we would like to have seen added: "Unwillingness to incorporate genuine forecasts to complete." After all, the only thing we can manage (read: influence in the future) is what we expect to happen based on current unaltered trends.

  • Harvey wonders where a proposal phase fits into the project life cycle.[23] To us this seems to overlook the potential for breaking down the generic project life span phases into stages. These stages are then specific to the area of project management application, e.g. construction, just as the stages are broken down into activities that are specific to a particular project. In other words, a project life cycle is no more than a high level schedule, before dates are applied.

  • Harvey describes various groups of stakeholders as those who care about or impact the project.[24] We suggest that there are also those who, in turn, are impacted by the project and its products. If these are not actually "stakeholders", at least they are "constituents".

  • Under the heading "The emergence of project portfolio management" Harvey asks "Is project portfolio management for real? Or is it just a nice sounding phrase, without real substance? ... I don't see a consensus as to how this emerging concept will play out."[25] Considering that there is remarkably little consensus even within mainstream project management, this is hardly surprising. But to be fair, Harvey goes on to discuss project portfolio management at some length.

So, we beg to disagree on the issue of substance. We think that project portfolio management, or whatever name it masquerades under, is a significantly different and new area of project management knowledge and practice. It has its own special problems and solutions for which satisfactory techniques and tools have yet to emerge. Nevertheless, the problems are real and here today.

What We Liked  What We Liked

22. Ibid. p58
23. Ibid. p66
24. Ibid. p126
25. Ibid. p264
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