Every once in a while, it is nice to have a technical book that is easy to read with touches of humor, is effortless to follow, and you get the feeling that the author really knows what he or she is talking about. Such is Quentin Fleming's latest book: Project Procurement Management. From the title you might think that the book is dry and dull, full of arcane legal stuff that only experienced project managers can understand. After all, how often have you heard the cry: "We don't do procurement (contracting, purchasing, or whatever-you-want-to call-it) in our shop. If we do it at all, it is done by someone else."
Admittedly, Quentin lends some credence to this impression in the opening salvo in his introduction. He says that: "This is a new book on Project Procurement Management ... well sort of." He goes on to explain that his previous book covered the subject but was targeted specifically to the aerospace and defense industry. Whereas: "this new book is intended to provide a more general treatment on the subject, with application to any project, in any industry which buys their project scope from another firm." He also notes that in his own extensive library of books on project management, few if any, address this subject.
The reality is that there are very few projects that do not involve "procurement" in some degree or other, despite the protestations. After all, a contract is a commitment and if you are a project management practitioner of any substance, you'd better know the subject. And to know this subject, this no-nonsense book is a good place to start. But there is another compelling reason that is not always made very clear. That is that every project involves commitments, and even though these may be "internal", i.e. not "arms-length" and therefore not legally based, many of the principles still apply. The same is true even if those commitments are purely informal.
Come to think of it, the project itself is a commitment, a "contract", between the project manager and the project's sponsor - a commitment to deliver a product scope at the required quality on time and within budget. The bottom line is that this subject is an inescapable topic in project management.
1. Fleming, W.
Q., Project Procurement Management, FMC Press, CA, 2003, p v