112 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2003
Several people I have talked to seem to have mixed feelings about this book. Most never get past the first few pages in the book and many are afraid not to have this book prominently displayed on their desks. The latter is to avoid someone mistaking them for a junior project manager.
The best way to review this monumental book on project management is to list the most common arguments for and against the book.
The book presents comprehensive knowledge of project management that you can substitute only by purchasing several books on the subject by other authors. Dr. Harold Kerzner is also one of the most respected experts on Project Management. Dr. Kerzner now has several companion books to supplement this main text book. One area that the book was considered lacking in the past was with regards to case studies. You can now buy his latest book that is dedicated to covering just case studies. The writing style is extremely easy to read and follow. Once you read his explanation on any topic, you will find that it is hard to disagree with him because his explanations are very compelling.
The reasons many people have disliked the book - the book is too boring to read, it is too long a book, it is a compilation of bullet lists, there are not enough case studies (or problems/exercises), etc. I can't say anything about the first complaint because it is actually true but if you are in the middle of a project and have a burning question, I can promise you that is isn't so boring to pull up the relevant section in the book and find a reasonable explanation to your question. The book is very long because it is an exhaustive treatment of the Project Management field. There is no reason to read it in one sitting. Regarding being a compilation of bullet lists, it does seem that way. But when you have been in project management for a while and have an appreciation for the difficulty of the field, the lists don't get in the way. The author has enough explanations surrounding the bullet lists that I never found them annoying. To address the complaints regarding case studies, problems/exercises, there is now a book dedicated to case studies and I believe there have always been workbooks that he authored which contained more problems/exercises.
A good approach to follow regarding the usage of this book is to buy it early on in your career but stop after reading just the first few chapters. As you are gaining experience and have been exposed to a majority of the project management field, it is time to refer to this book more often. I have followed the book through several editions over the years and looked up various topics as questions popped up in my mind while going through a project. I am yet to finish the whole book (this is my 7th year reading the various editions of his book) after all these years but I didn't expect to. It is a great reference book and I have been using it as one.
There are better books to read on project management if you looking for a quick overview. 'The Little Black Book of Project Management' by Michael Thomsett comes to mind along with 'Project Management - Planning and Control' by Rory Burke. If you are looking for help with the PMP preparation, I highly recommend 'PMP Exam Prep' by Rita Mulcahy. Read my review on her book for more detailed information on taking the exam.
IIL offers several Project Management classes that are taught by excellent instructors if you like what you read in this book and are looking for more of the same. A copy is given out as part of the class materials (for some of their classes). I hope you benefit from reading this book as much as I did and thanks for your patience. This is indeed a difficult book to review.
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2007
I'm a book worm. I have studied the PMBOK Guide, the three standard PMP Study Guides (Rita, Sanghera, and Crowe), this book, and many others. This book is a good reference book for project management. It has lots of useful stuff in it. However, following is my opinion:
1. This book is NOT compatible with the PMBOK Guide. Simple: this book (as the name suggests) adopts a system approach to project management while PMBOK Guide takes the process approach. A fundamental difference. This book was originally written long time ago (this is the 9th edition). The PMBOK guide and this book started from different roots.
2. Do not use this book to prepare for the PMI exams (CAPM and PMP). Due to the difference in approaches, you will end up getting confused and lost in 1000 pages of this book.
3. Don't be fooled by the reference to the PMBOK Guide at various places in the book. Just stamping a material with the PMBOK Guide reference does not make it compatible with the PMBOK Guide.
4. Now, the fact that this book takes a different approach from the PMBOK Guide is not necessarily a bad thing. You can use it if you are looking for approaches to PM other than the PMBOK Guide approach. You can also use this book for academic exploration after you have mastered the PMBOK Guide approach and passed your PMP exam (if that's what you are up to).
Bottom line: Good PM reference but not the right book for the PMP exam preparation.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2007
I will have to respectfully disagree with the reviewer who stated this book was not good for preparing for the PMP. Though I will have to admit that this depends on how extensive you want your PMP preparation to be as well as if throughly learning the subject of project management is more important than just passing the PMP. If this is the case, then this book will exceed these expectation on all counts.
On the structure and contents of the text, it has 23 chapters whereupon the first 10 chapters delve into the basic structure and organizational behaviors that create a need for project management. In a sense, these chapter deal with the "soft" issues in project management, since the success of projects depends on the people who work on them and the stakeholders and customers who support and drive the project initiative. As Kerzner states, "these first ten chapters are needed to understand the cultural environment for all projects and systems". For those preparing for the PMP, chapter 3 titled "Organizational Structures" gives an in depth exposition of the types of organizational structures such as functional, matrix, and projectized that you will need to know for the PMP exam. You can see where much of what is in the chapter no doubt influenced the PMBOK.
Chapters 11-20 go into the heart of project management such as planning, scheduling, cost control, estimating, procurement and quality. These chapter are indeed "hard-core" project management tools and techniques that are systematically discussed in depth. But this is where much of the meat of project management is discussed and where all the major PMP exam subjects are covered. Particularly relevant are these chapters:
11 - Planning
12 - Network Scheduling Techniques
14 - Pricing and Estimating
15 - Cost Control
17 - Risk Management
19 - Contracts and Procurement
20 - Quality Management
I would recommend reading these chapter once through, then answering the questions at the end of the chapters, and going back to sections you were not clear about. Unlike the previous editions, this one has answers for the end of chapter questions and I found them relevant to the study of the PMP exam.
The last 3 chapters are an advanced overview of topics such as developing your own project management methodology, critical chain (which you may get a question or two on), and the Project Management Office (PMO). These chapters can be glanced over or skipped for another time.
I can recall when I took a PMP exam prep class with the PMI LA chapter, that many instructors acknowledged the greatness of this book and the likelihood of learning everything you need to know for the PMP exam if studied exhaustively, but also kept saying what an enormous tome it is at 1000+ pages and the exhaustive technical details of project management laid out, that most recommended not to use the resource unless you had a lot of time and stamina.
Hearing this, I was both intrigued and intimidated when I saw this book at Borders, but after picking it up and skimming it over and reading some sections, I found it quite readable, if a bit text bookish and academic. I will say this though, it is definitely more readable then the PMBOK. I promise!
Consider though that if you read the PMBOK (which many recommend you read several times) and a couple prep books, you have in fact read thousands of pages preparing for the PMP exam.
In all seriousness though, if it is your desire to simply pass the PMP exam and/or your pressed for time, then perhaps it is better to just purchase the PMBOK and Rita's text (which I did not like at all) and just cram and memorize. There's nothing wrong with that, as people taking the PMP exam are busy professionals without a lot of time.
But if you are planning to take your time and want to throughly learn the science and art of project management as well as pass the PMP exam with flying colors, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book. One way or another you will be referencing this book if you are a true project management professional.
I utilized this book in my studies for the PMP exam, and was able to pass in the upper 80th percentile and did not need to resort to any form of memorization or cramming, nor did I resort to doing a "brain dump" sheet on the day of the exam.
Happy studies and good luck to all you aspiring PMP project managers!
-Don Kim, PMP
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Harold Kerzner has written a tome that encompasses virtually all areas of Project Management (PM). Where he excels is in placing PM in the Organizational context. A read of this book can tell you how PM will fit into an organization, and the types of conflict that can arise when line management and project management come together.
Some aspects of the book (e.g. planning and project leadership/influence skills) are comprehensive enough to be books themselves. If you did not buy this one book, you might haveto buy many different books at higher cost to achieve the same coverage of topics. I have also found the author's coverage of issues to be thoughtful, comprehensive and meaningful. It is not fluffy.
Do not expect to start using this book the day you get nominated as a Project Manager. This is more in the nature of a study book, and less like a workbook, or a what-do-I-need-to-do-starting-tomorrow-morning guide. However your diligence in studying its contents will, I believe, be richly rewarded.
What do I not like about this book? * The author's endless fascination with bullet points. In some places the book reads like it was a transcript of his lectures. * Style of delivery is very dry. There is no change of tempo. * Poor figures. I could not understand many of the statistical figures at first glance. * Bad taste in cartoons. 'Nuff said. * The binding -- it is gummed at the spine for a very heavy book. Handle it roughly and it will come apart.
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 1999
I read the book on a flight from Phoenix to Denver with time to spare. The chapters are well organized and the material is reinforced to the reader by the use of worksheets and a self-test. Though the depth of each of the topics covered is not extensive, the scope of the topics and the logical way they are presented allow the reader to develop a good grasp of the gist of project management. I am looking to make this book a mandatory read for employees going through our company's project management curriculum.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2011
As a project management instructor at a state university and someone who has reviewed countless project management books, I've been teaching from Kerzner books for nearly a decade (different versions). Here's what I think about this book:
- This book is huge and covers many aspects of project management. Although most project managers will not need everything found in here, it's an excellent resource that, at a minimum, sweeps across nearly every topic at a high level.
- Kerzner's books are on the more technical side of project management books. It gets pretty deep in some of the numbers sections (e.g. financial, earned value).
- Generally speaking, this book is well-written and easy to read, even for the project management novice.
- The exercises at the end of each chapter are excellent. They provide readers with many reinforcement activities.
- Colorful charts, tables, and illustrations provide additional support for visual learners.
- Even though it's not meant to teach you how to use tools, there are seldom references to them. Today's project managers are expected to leverage tools such as project management information systems to help them do their jobs.
- For those who are studying to be certified, this book can only be used as reference support. Do not use this as a sole source to study for any project management certification exam, especially the PMP(R). This is not the purpose of the book and therefore is not adequate.
- With the expectations that this is a text book and not a training guide, this Kerzner book excels.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? ) As I noted in my review for A Project Manager's Book of Forms: A Companion to the PMBOK Guide, I got interested in project management when I realized I had been on several project teams at work, only we called them initiatives and they went off the rails because we therefore hadn't given enough attention to things like scope and deliverables. That book of forms is excellent for figuring out what you need to figure out and document a properly executed project. This book, on the other hand, is best for the person who has been given a project in a functional department organization where project management isn't in the DNA. It tells you all the things you need to know to execute projects correctly in an organization that is on board with project management, but, frankly, so do a lot of other books. Where this book shines is its emphasis on getting projects, their management and their use of company resources to mesh with the operations of the broader organization. A regular project management book will tell you that it can sometimes be challenging to get a line manager to sign off on your project using one of his or her employees and that you need to overcome it. This book gets into the nitty gritty of legitimate reasons for the line manager to take that stance and what you need to think about and do to overcome objections. A regular project management will tell you about the importance of managing project scope and the need to rework things with stakeholders before you accept a change in scope. This book goes into detail about the challenges of working with stakeholders from the over-enthusiastic who keep wanting to add things to that person whose only stake is not having your project supplant something he perceives to be on his turf.
In the past, as I've read about project management, one of my most common reactions was cynicism: the ideas they presented were good, but I doubted than any of the organizations I've worked for would buy in. This textbook gets it and really gets into how to fit projects into the organizational culture, not just how they would be done if the organizational culture was generally supportive of project managers doing what they needed to do to manage projects.
Because of its size and scope, this is more of a textbook than light reading. I myself have been skimming a chapter here and there rather than wading through page for page. That said, if you are running into challenges implementing projects in your organization, you're better off buying this and slogging through than picking up another three books on how to execute great projects if you haven't gotten any traction with the great ideas from the last three books because the real problem is making things happen within the organizational culture.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Solid book covering the basics of project management. Kernzers is the goal standard for graduate level PM courses. Some integration of PMBoK information, but I do not think it would be good reference for the PMP test.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2003
If you have questions on any aspect of Project Management, this is the book to consult. From organizational behavior and structure to planning, scheduling and controlling processes vital to the successful practice of project management. Most of the vital issues are discussed in a thorough, thoughtful way.
If the book has a weakness, it is in the area of Integration - in my mind, the most difficult section of the PMP exam. The book is not only written as an undergraduate and graduate students, but also functional and senior managers. Its structure reveals the author's apparent belief that the practice of project management is more behavioral than quantitative.
His first five chapters lay the foundation for an understanding of project management principles. Chapters 6 through 8 deal with support functions of conflict and time management; chapters 9 and 10 deal with management support. Quantitative approaches to planning, time, cost and performance are developed in Chapters 11 to 15. Chapter 16 deals discusses trade-offs. The balance of the book deals with advanced topic and future trends.
If your budget limits you to the purchase of one project management, this is the one to own.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Workbook has lots of questions that at first glance would seem helpful for anyone studying for the PMP exam. However, the workbook lacks the answers to the questions so there is no way to know if you answered the questions correctly and the publisher would not allow me to purchase the instructor's guide so I could verify my answers. Without the answers there is no feedback loop. Kerzner needs to provide an answer guide to make this workbook worth buying.