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on July 11, 2003
This volume may be the best one I have ever read on the subject of risk in the project arena. Kendrick has captured the best of current practical thinking on project risk and how to identify and manage it. And the author has carefully linked theory and practice to the Project Management Institute's "Project Mangement Body of Knowledge." In addition this book is exceedingly well written and very readable (a rarity in this genre).
Kendrick approaches risk identification from the perspective of the project manager in the areas of scope (project deliverables and product), resources (people, materials, and money), and schedule (time). He addresses each area in a separate chapter with practical advice on how to identify and document potential risks. An aspect of these three chapters I particularly appreciate is the depth of information that allows the reader to address each area of risk at different levels. Kendrick does this by providing an array of analytical tools. For example in Chapter 4, "Identifying Project Schedule Risks," the reader could use the list of common schedule risks and probably account for 80% of the schedule risks for their project, or move to a deeper analysis of risks associated with delays, dependencies, and errors in estimation. In the area of estimation the reader is presented with an array of estimating techniques that can be used as appropriate to detect potential risks in estimation.
Chapter seven on "Quantifying and Analyzing Activity Risk" appears just in time. After reading the first six chapters the reader may throw up their hands and declare "I can't manage all of this!" As an experienced project manager, Kendrick gives us tools to help select the risks to manage. All potential risks on a project are not manageable or worth the time and effort to manage. This chapter gives sage advice on how to select the vital few.
A key element in Kendrick's approach is distinguishing what he calls "activity risk" from "project risk." It is easy for the project manager to focus on risks associated with various activities and forget the larger picture. In fact there may be times when the risks associated with each activity seem minor but when the project is viewed as a whole the project is very risky. Kendrick provides tools for quantifying and analyzing risk at the project level as well as a chapter on managing project level risk.
I end this review with three overall comments. First, pages 17-24 should be required reading for all senior managers and anyone who sponsors a project and there should be a test at the end. The biggest risk for too many projects is unknowing, unthinking, or uncaring managers who are driven by near term profits and stock prices. Second, readers should not be put off by Kendrick's inclusion of statistical and mathematical information. Such information comprises less than 5% of this book and it would be a shame to miss the other 95% due to a fear and loathing of numbers. Finally, if you can't find any other reason to read this gem, read it for the intriguing history of the building of the Panama Canal. If Kendrick ever decides to stop managing projects, he has a bright future as a writer of interesting history.
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on April 9, 2003
Reviewed by Al DeLucia
Project Management Division
GSA, Philadelphia
Anyone who - like me -- has struggled to relate the abstract discussion of Risk Management in the PMBOK to actual project management practice will welcome this down-to-earth presentation. This book shows how to incorporate risk management into the planning of your project along the way - the entire way -- of the project development sequence.
Mr. Kendrick had many years of practical project management experience with Hewlett- Packard and headed their in-house project management training and consulting program. Over a period of 10 years, he trained hundreds of project managers at HP, in other organizations world-wide, and at the University of California at Berkeley and systematically collected information about the most significant risks they had encountered in their projects. The result is a database called PERIL (Project Experience Risk Information Library), that contains 222 projects sorted into risk categories based on type and impact. In this book, these results are integrated with the PMBOK processes of project development in a way that shows what project management is really all about.
Anecdotes from the construction of the Panama Canal are interestingly presented at the ends of the chapters. These describe how the concepts of each chapter were applied - or not - first by the French in their failed attempt to build the canal, and then by the Americans in their successful endeavor under the sponsorship of Teddy Roosevelt.
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on May 10, 2006
As the other reviewers have indicated, this book is an excellent addition to your library.

It is well-written, well-organized, and supported by real-life data from his PERIL database (compiled from hundreds of projects, world-wide, over the past decade). The book makes good use of bullets and diagrams to emphasize and/or explain important points.

I particularly liked the way he correlated his material with the Project Management Institute (PMI)'s PMBOK.

Further, I appreciated his discussion of some of the most difficult issues that arise when implementing a formalized project management methodology (including some that are seldom addressed in books), e.g.:

o Tips for persuading senior level management of the necessity of a formalized project management methodology

o Recognizing the power shift that occurs within a company when formalized project management/portfolio management processes are implemented and followed

o Metrics, derived from the PERIL database, relating to things such as the impact of the permanent (or temporary) loss of a project team member. (I'm always looking for metrics to support some business case, or other request to senior management, for additional ... time ... resources ... budget, etc.)

o The Appendix, which listed some of the Schedule, Resource and Scope risks from the PERIL database

o The sample Risk Questionnaire, and the many other tools, tip and procedures included in the book

Overall, I give it five stars and expect that it will become "dog-eared" very quickly, from heavy use, as I refer to it often in my work.
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on June 14, 2011
This book was very dry and did have sentence structure that was hard to follow at times. Kendrick gives some good examples and walks you through risk management well, but this book is for the more advanced project manager. This book is not ideal for a student learning risk management for the first time.
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on August 29, 2015
I am a student nearing completion of the author's project management certificate program offered via UC Berkeley Extension. Kendrick's text is the best one I've read thus far in my coursework. Clear and well written, it's easy to grasp the concepts drawn from Kendrick's hands on project management experience. While project management scopes, schedules and plans resources to achieve project requirements, Kendrick makes clear the essence of successful project management is having the agility to properly assess and respond to the risks and opportunities inherent in all projects and particularly complex, long duration technology projects.
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on February 25, 2014
The author actually knows what he's writing about from a practical level as well as theoretical, and even the "math" parts are not too obscure. It's a required text in a course I'm taking and I'm finding it useful.
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on August 28, 2011
I use Tom's book as supplemental reading to the basic PMBOK for students in my PM Risk classes. I love the fact that it is illustrutive of the concepts introduced and discussed in the PMBOK. His book enhances the learning experience. They gain knowledge from his own experience as well as the additional knowledge from the case study used throughout the book. It is helpful for all to put concepts together with real-life events in order to make it all come full circle.
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on February 15, 2016
As a university faculty member, I am using this book as the primary text for my undgraduate course in risk management. I have found it to be comprehensive, current, and readily understandable by my students. Many of them have commented that they will be holding on to the book as part of their professional library.
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on June 7, 2014
This is a wonderful book summarizing the authors lengthy PM experience and collection of over 600 cases of project failures. The Panama Canal projects provide historically interesting case of poor and eventually much-improved project decisions and management. Kendrick shares his enthusiasm for the PM discipline. The emphasis is on moderate-sized technical projects.
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on May 27, 2013
Short and simple is all that is needed for this reference. This book will help you understand and manage risk simple. We used this as our course book for Risk Analysis with UCLA. This book will provide you with an understand and methods to define, analysis, record and update risks.
I understand there was a review concerning this book being aimed at the IT industry and although it is used as references, this book and its methods can be used for any industry with success. It provides a clear and simple understanding of how to apply risk methods to manage any kind of risk.
My risk bible.
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