Published here July, 2009.

Introduction | Book Structure
What We Liked |  Downside | Summary


This book is full of sound, practical, project management advice for carrying out IT and similar type projects. It is also laced with the practical wisdom that only comes from years of "Been there, done that".

Perhaps some of the soundest advice is characterized in the following anecdote entitled "Flattery can get you anywhere":

"In the late 1980s, I was part of a large program created to consolidate hardware into a new state-of-the-art data center being established in a new European headquarters building in Geneva, Switzerland. We were to gather computer systems and other equipment from half-dozen older sites all over the city, and my part of the program was to manage moving all telecom equipment and packet-switching hardware used for worldwide data communications - while ensuring, of course, uninterrupted network access to all systems over the several months that it would take to relocate all computers.

A central part of the new data center design was a massive patch panel through which all the internal and external communications were to be routed. As the time to begin installing my network hardware approached, I grew concerned that the patch panel was behind schedule. The empty panel frame had been erected in the data center, but the hardware that would fill it up was still sitting in the manufacturer's boxes. I dropped hints a few time to the team responsible for assembling this hardware, to no avail. On a program like this, there are always many competing priorities and tasks.

A week before my first installation was scheduled, I approached the leader of the patching hardware installation team. Rather than complaining about the looming deadline, I asked if he would show me how the panel worked, so I could verify that everything was compatible. Together, we started opening boxes and he showed me how the parts fit together. I continued asking questions and opening boxes while he started snapping things together and screwing the components in place. After about forty-five minutes, he has installed about a dozen connections and wired them up. I was able to test my cables and fittings and verify that there were no mechanical mating problems or electrical faults. I thanked him for his help, and we both returned to other work.

While I was grateful that some of the hardware I depended on was now installed, my real motive was to collect data for my weekly status report. In my summary for the beginning of my next report, I mentioned that I was now confident we could meet our schedules, based on the capable and effective efforts of my partner project leader. I praised his cooperation and expertise and publicly thanked him for his efforts.

Because of the attention the status report generated, the patch panel infrastructure was fully installed in plenty of time. In addition, throughout the rest of my project, whenever I saw the other team leader in the data center, he always asked if I needed anything done."[23]

Interestingly, one of the parts that we found the most valuable is Appendix A. According to the title, this appendix provides a list of Example Project Infrastructure Decisions. To our eyes, it looks more like a checklist of questions you should ask to establish the project management requirements for your project. In total there are 200 bulleted questions arranged under 23 sub-headings. Not all questions are relevant to all projects, of course, but scanning the list will trigger many thoughts otherwise overlooked.

At its very modest price, the book is worth buying just to have the Appendix.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

Downside  Downside

23. Ibid, pp205-206
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page