Published here April 2012

Introduction to the Books | About the Authors and Their Books
Book 1 - Introduction and Book Structure | What We Liked | Downside | Summary
Book 2 - What Functional Managers Need to Know about Project Management
Book 3 - Value-Driven Project Management
Book 4 - Managing Complex Projects


We did not find in the book any indication of its intended audience, that is, who is it that would most likely be interested. Of course, it would be nice to sell as many books as possible to anybody and everybody. But, from the contents, our impression is that the authors have in the back of their minds those executives who are responsible for projects resulting in tangible products such as in manufacturing, engineering and construction.

In other words, those executives of companies either providing project management services under contract to owners, or of organizations that are obtaining their "products" by means of letting contracts. If that is true, then the book appears to assume that the project starts with the terms laid down in some form of contract. The corollary is that the contents will be of less interest to those in the Information Technology sector where the terms of reference for the project essentially starts with a Business Case.

Given the extent of focus of the book on what executives should do with respect to project management, we felt that rather more emphasis could have been placed on why they should do it. True this is covered in Chapter 3, but it might have been better for the book to introduce this information as Chapter 1. In other words, sell the product first before getting into the fine print! By the same token, as a long-time member of the Project Management Institute, we found The Evolution of Project Management information in Chapter 2 quite interesting, but it might just as well have been relegated to the back end of the book.

We cannot fault the authors for displaying Harold Kerzner's iconic logo, a triangle within a circle. This is displayed at the start of Chapter 1 on Project Management Principles as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Dr. Kerzner's iconic logo[7]

However, we were disappointed that the associated text still talks about:

"From an executive perspective, the figure illustrates the basic goal of project management, namely, meeting the objectives associated with the triple constraint of time, cost, and performance while maintaining good customer relations."[8] (Our emphasis added)

And further on the last page of the book

"The basic principles of project management associated with planning, executing, and controlling have remained relatively constant through the ages. These principles have driven the definition of success that is associated with the triple constraint."[9]

As the only "principle" referred to in the chapter (project management has a number of well established principles), we feel that this is particularly misleading when the diagram itself includes up to seven so-called constraints. Indeed, the diagram on the following page elaborating on "Resources" shows a further nine types of resource constraints.[10] As we have tried to establish many times before, time and cost are directly related to the extent of the product's scope and quality, a relationship that is subject to risk events and performance, e.g. productivity. Thus the underlying relationship is not a triangle but at least a quadrangle.

But in any case, surely an executive lacking any basic knowledge of project management would first be interested in more direct issues, certainly at the start of Chapter 1. For example: How soon will the proposed product be available for operational use? How much is its estimated cost? And how can we be sure that it will produce the intended benefits?

If executives were going to really understand the principles of project management, it would be well to expand this chapter considerably. A good place to start on this expansion might be here:

What We Liked  What We Liked

7. Ibid, p2
8. Ibid, p3
9. Ibid, p282. Actually we are inclined to disagree. The "basic principles of project management" may have "remained relatively constant" but our understanding of them has advanced enormously.
10. Ibid, p4
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