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Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management

David A. Zimmer
David A. Zimmer, PMP
Chief Project Professor
American Eagle Group

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management. I hate the title, but I love the book! Imagine me, reading this book while riding on a plane. My goal is to provide consulting and coaching in Project Management to clients. After 30 years of hard-core project management and earning a Master's Certificate through Villanova University and just shy of a Project Management Professional designation, I am reading this book hoping the person next to me doesn't see the title and wonder if I am a neophyte in PM, especially if he or she asks me what I do for a living! I don't think they will be hiring my services any time soon.

But. . .

This book has quickly become one of my favorites for this field. The other two highly recommended books are "The Little Black Book of Project Management" by Thomsett and "Practical Project Management" by Dobson. Each book approaches Project Management from a different perspective.

Dobson describes in Practical Project Management the various tools such as the Gantt Chart, Work Breakdown Structure, the PERT Chart, Crash Analysis, etc. from a manual method while discussing critical path, earned value and so forth. It is a great book for understanding better the inner-workings of MS Project or other project software.

Thomsett describes in The Little Black Book of Project Management the human or "soft" side of Project Management. While he describes the tools such as Gantt Charts and Critical Path, et al, Thomsett goes further to discuss the variety of people issues that a project manager will face.

In the Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management, Sunny and Kim Baker and G. Michael Campbell approach the subject using the four phases of any project: Initiation, Planning, Implementation, and Completion - as outlined in the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) published by the Project Management Institute. They take each phase and breakdown the considerations and activities involved so project managers can follow the practices of the best in the industry.

They cover such things as the Work Breakdown Structure - WBS, the PERT Chart, a.k.a., the Network Diagram, the Gantt Chart, etc. They delve into identifying the Stakeholders and defining their roles, selecting a Project Team, Scoping the Goals of the Project and anticipating Risks and project Constraints - areas commonly overlooked or just not done sufficiently because of our rush to get to the Implementation phase.

These are seasoned professionals who have been around the block, have the scares to prove it and are passing on precious information and insights that any project manager should know. They describe methods of budgeting, accounting for resource time, overcoming conflicts and schedule slips and give the details I wished I had had when I was starting out.

They realize that most project managers are not formally trained in project management techniques (very few people dream that someday they will be project managers and others slip into it like a mud puddle or were volunteered by someone else). Their lucid conversational style makes you quickly warm to them as elder mentors helping you down the road to more successful projects.

You would do well, experienced or not, to take the time to read this book. I read the Third Edition. The Fourth Edition is out now - it wasn't out two months ago when I bought my copy. Regardless of the edition, it is a great addition to your library. But a word to the caution - put a book cover on it so no one sees the title!

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management, 4th Edition

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