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Good overview of IT Project Management
on December 23, 2005
This book gives a good overview of the project management process in general with a focus on Information Technology projects. Though structured like a textbook (and obviously intended as one) the general reader, or someone studying for the PMP exam, could also benefit from the information in this text. Regardless, the book probably functions best as a course text (mostly due to the college textbook price). Each chapter includes definitions, discussion questions, exercises, and suggested readings. And a running case study that simulates real-world use of the principles introduced in each chapter pervades the book's 12 chapters. These cases help bring the material to life and animate the sometimes inevitably dry subject matter of project management.
The structure of the book follows the nine Project Management Knowledge Areas introduced in Chapter 1: Management of Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk, and Procurement. Each knowledge area receives a detailed chapter of its own (which, in a few places, leads to repetition in the text). The emphasis here, understandably, remains on documentation of IT projects and meeting expectations of stakeholders or customers. Though each chapter briefly discusses the use of software tools for each Knowledge Area, and Appendix A introduces the basic functionality of Microsoft Project 2003.
Techies thinking of making the leap to Project Management will likely benefit most from the Cost and Comunication chapters (though all chapters contain useful information). Programmers and Architects don't typically engage in financial analysis, but Project Managers absolutely must know these money-based terms, tools, and techniques to do their jobs. Not only that, communication often gets taken for granted in IT shops (i.e., the "we have e-mail, what more do we need?" perspective). The book tries to undo some of the bad communication habits that at times seem endemic to IT departments. Human Resources can also provide challenges for coders coming out of their caves, and the chapter on HR covers motivational theories and the basics of dealing with other people on a day-to-day basis (something else Project Managers definitely must excel at). By the end of the book, the message rings out: Project Managers do need some technical skills to succeed, but communication and people skills rise far above in importance for successful management of Information Technology Projects. The book does a good job of delivering that message as well as distinguishing Project Management as a unique skill for IT.
IT workers may or may not agree with the author's somewhat opimistic outlook on outsourcing in chapter 12. More of the sunny side of outsourcing gets emphasized here. The subject remains controversial amongst many IT groups and companies, and the author doesn't seem to give a complete picture of the issue. But some readers may welcome the idea that outsourcing isn't a completely negative concept. Lastly, though the book's title page says "2006", the author doesn't talk about the recent growing trend of Project Management outsourcing for IT projects (some IT professionals may look upon Project Management as a shield against being outsourced; this may become less and less true if this trend grows; but it may not).
The book also includes 2 CDs. One includes a trial version of Microsoft Project 2003, and the other contains "Project Management Simulation Software". So it's possible to put to practice (temporarily, at least) the principles learned in this book in software tools.
Overall, the book presents a good overview of IT Project Management. Some of the more advanced topics, such as Six Sigma and Monte Carlo Analysis, receive cursory treatment due to their massive scope and terminology load. But the book gives good introductions to even complex Project Management principles and practices, and will likely inspire readers to prepare for the PMP exam or to examine futher this unique area of Information Technology Management.