Absolute Beginner's Guide to Project Management / Edition 2

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Why learn project management the hard way?

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Project Management, Second Edition will have you managing projects in no time! Here’s a small sample of what you’ll learn:

  • Key concepts and fundamentals behind best-practice project management techniques
  • The mindset and skill set of effective project managers
  • Project techniques that work in any industry, with any tools
  • The common elements of successful projects
  • Lessons from failed projects
  • The value and importance of project leadership versus project management
  • How to manage growing project trends and tough project types that first-time project managers are likely to encounter
  • How to make better use of Microsoft Project
  • How to respond when project reality does not match textbook scenarios
  • Expert insight on key project management concepts and topics

You’ve just been handed your department's biggest project. Absolute Beginner's Guide to Project Management will show you exactly where to start–and walk you step by step through your entire project! Expert project manager Gregory Horine shows you exactly what works and what doesn’t, drawing on the field’s proven best practices. Understand your role as a project manager...gain the skills and discover the personal qualities of great project managers...learn how to organize, estimate, and schedule projects effectively...manage deliverables, issues, changes, risks, quality, vendors, communications, and expectations...make the most of technology...manage virtual teams...avoid the problems that trip up new project managers! This new edition jumpstarts your project management expertise even faster, with all-new insights on Microsoft Project, challenging project situations and intriguing project management topics of the day.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789738219
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 2/6/2009
  • Series: Absolute Beginner's Guide
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory M Horine (Indianapolis, IN) is a PMP/CCP-certified business technology and IT project management professional who has achieved nineteen years of successful results across multiple industries through the use of servant leadership principles. His primary areas of expertise and strength include project management and leadership; complex application development; enterprise solution development; business process analysis and improvement; data analysis and transformation; package implementation and integration; vendor and procurement management; regulatory and process compliance; and the effective use of project management tools. He is co-author of PMP Exam Cram 2.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Who Should Read This Book? 3

How This Book Is Organized 3

Conventions Used in This Book 4


Chapter 1 Project Management Overview 7

What Is Project Management…Exactly? 8

What Is the Value of Project Management? 12

Why Are Projects Challenging? 13

Growing Demand for Effective Project Managers? 15

Trends in Project Management 16

Chapter 2 The Project Manager 21

One Title, Many Roles 22

Key Skills of Project Managers 23

Qualities of Successful Project Managers 25

15 Common Mistakes of Project Managers 27

Chapter 3 Essential Elements for Any Successful Project 29

What Exactly Is a “Successful” Project? 30

Learning from Troubled Projects 31

Learning from Successful Projects 34

Essential Project Manager Toolkit 36


Chapter 4 Defining a Project 43

Setting the Stage for Success 44

How Does Defining a Project Relate to Project Planning? 44

Project Definition Document 45

Project Definition Checklist 49

Chapter 5 Planning a Project 55

Key Project Planning Principles 56

Important Questions Project Planning Should Answer 58

Building a Project Plan 59

Summary of Supplemental Project Plan Components 66

Project Plan Checklist 69

Chapter 6 Developing the Work Breakdown Structure 71

What Is a WBS Exactly? 72

Why Is the WBS Important? 78

The Process of Building a WBS 79

Chapter 7 Estimating the Work 85

Next Step in the Schedule Development Process 86

Managing the Risk, Managing the Estimates 88

Reasons for Estimating Woes 88

Powerful Estimating Techniques and Methods 90

Best Practices 92

Chapter 8 Developing the Project Schedule 97

The Impact of the Project Schedule 98

The Goal of the Schedule Development Process 100

Key Inputs for Building a Schedule 101

Creating a Schedule 102

Chapter 9 Determining the Project Budget 113

The Impact of the Project Budget 114

Principles of an Effective Budget 115

Creating a Project Budget 116

Common Budget Challenges 120


Chapter 10 Controlling a Project 125

What Is Project Control? 126

Management Fundamentals for Project Control 129

Powerful Techniques for Project Control 130

Performance Reporting 133

Variance Responses 135

Leveraging Earned Value Management Concepts 136

Common Project Control Challenges 139

Lessons from Project Recoveries 141

Chapter 11 Managing Project Changes 145

What Exactly Is a Project Change and What’s the

Big Deal Anyway? 146

Fundamentals for Managing Project Change 149

What Causes Unplanned Scope Changes? 150

Essential Elements of a Project Change Control System 151

Powerful Techniques for Minimizing Project Changes 154

Common Project Change Control Challenges 156

Chapter 12 Managing Project Deliverables 159

“Managing Project Deliverables” Means What Exactly? 160

Why Do This? It’s Too Much Work 161

Identify, Protect, and Track: The Principles of Managing

Work Products 162

Best Practices 163

Configuration Management Plan 167

Common Challenges and Pitfalls 169

Chapter 13 Managing Project Issues 171

The Goals, Objectives, and Principles of Project Issue Management 172

Key Features of Issue Management System 173

Options for Issue Log 175

Best Practices 176

Some Special Situations 178

Chapter 14 Managing Project Risks 181

Key Risk Management Principles 182

The Essential Process for Managing Project Risks 183

The Common Sources of Project Risk 187

Typical Problems 190

Powerful Risk Control Strategies 192

Are You Sure It’s a Risk? 193

Chapter 15 Managing Project Quality 197

What Is “Project Quality”? 198

Unique Aspects of Managing Project Quality 199

Principles of Managing Project Quality 199

Powerful Tools and Techniques for Project Quality 201

Powerful Quality Strategies 203

Typical Quality-Related Challenges 205


Chapter 16 Leading a Project 211

More Than Managing 212

Where Is Leadership Needed on a Project? 214

Twelve Keys to Better Project Leadership 215

Power of Servant Leadership Approach 218

Chapter 17 Managing Project Communications 223

What Are Project Communications? 224

The Importance of Project Communications 225

Why Communicating Can Be Tough 226

Seven Powerful Principles 227

Best Practices of Effective Project Communicators 230

Chapter 18 Managing Expectations 239

Value of Reviewing Stakeholder Expectation Management 240

Critical Aspects of Expectations 240

Seven Master Principles of Expectation Management 245

Essential Elements of Managing Expectations 246

Chapter 19 Keys to Better Project Team Performance 255

High-Performing Teams 256

Ten Key Principles 256

Proven Techniques 259

Special Situations 263

Chapter 20 Managing Differences 267

Five Key Principles 268

Proven Techniques for Leading Cross-Functional Projects 271

Proven Techniques for Leading Cross-Cultural Projects 273

Proven Techniques for Leading Virtual Projects 274

Chapter 21 Managing Vendors 279

First, Let’s Clarify a Few Terms 280

Ten Proven Principles of Vendor Management 280

Twelve Tips for Buyers 283

Seven Tips for Sellers 285

Twelve Key Project Management Skills for Better

Vendor Management 286

Stuff You Need to Know About Contracts 286

Chapter 22 Ending a Project 293

Three Key Principles 294

Project End Checklist–13 Important Steps 294

Common Project Closing Challenges 296

Methods for Ending a Contract or a Project 297


Chapter 23 Making Better Use of Microsoft Project 303

Understand This …and It All Becomes Easier 304

Need-to-Know Features 306

New Project Best Practices 313

Keys to Making Resource Leveling Work 316

Powerful Reporting Secrets 318

More Insights to a Better Project Schedule 323

Chapter 24 When Reality Happens 327

What If I’m in a Project Management “Lite” Culture? 328

What If I Can’t Develop a Detailed Schedule? 330

What If I Must Manage to a Hard Milestone Date? 331

What If I Have Difficult Resources? 333

What Can I Do About Turnover? 334

Tips for Managing a Selection Process 335

Tips for Managing a Testing Process 340

Chapter 25 Intriguing Project Management Concepts and Topics 345

Agile Approaches 346

Project Management Offices 348

Portfolio Project Management 351

Governance Processes 353

Critical Chain Project Management 353

Web-Based Project Management Software 356

Mind Mapping Tools 357

Value of Certifications 358

Project Management Training 359

Index 363

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As organizations continue to move toward “project-based” management to get more done with fewer resources, and as the demand for effective project managers continues to grow, more and more individuals find themselves with the opportunity to manage projects for the first time.

In an ideal world, every new project manager candidate would complete certified project management training programs and serve as an apprentice before starting his or her first project manager opportunity, but...this is the real world. In many cases, a quicker, more accessible, and more economical alternative is needed to guide these candidates in managing projects successfully the first time.

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Project Management, Second Edition, is intended to provide this alternative with a helpful, fun, and informative style.

About This Book

Let’s review the objectives and approach of this book.


The objectives of this book include the following:

  • To be an easy-to-use tutorial and reference resource for any person managing their first project(s).
  • To teach the key concepts and fundamentals behind project management techniques. If these are understood, they can be applied effectively independent of toolset, environment, or industry.
  • To reduce the “on-the-job” learning curve by sharing the traits of successful projects and “lessons learned” from less-than-successful projects.
  • To balance the breadth of topics covered with adequate depth in specific areas to best prepare a new project manager.
  • To review the skills and qualities of effective project managers.
  • To emphasize the importance of project “leadership” versus just project “management.”


Consistent with the Absolute Beginner’s Guide series, this book uses a teaching style to review the essential techniques and skills needed to successfully manage a project. By teaching style, we intend the following:

  • A mentoring, coaching style.
  • A fun, easy-to-read, practical style.
  • Assumes that the reader does not have previous hands-on experience with project management.
  • Teaches the material as if an instructor were physically present.
  • Task-oriented, logically ordered, self-contained lessons (chapters) that can be read and comprehended in a short period of time (15–30 minutes).
  • Emphasis on understanding the principle behind the technique or practice.
  • Teaches the material independent of specific tools and methodologies.
  • Teaches the material with the assumption that the reader does not have access to organizational templates or methodologies.
  • Provides a summary map of the main ideas covered at the end of each chapter. Research has shown that this type of “mind-map” approach can drive better memory recollection when compared to traditional linear summary approaches.

Out-of-Scope - The scope of this book is clearly outlined in the table of contents, but as we will cover later, it is always good to review what is out of scope to ensure understanding of the scope boundaries. Because the field of project management is extremely broad, and we needed to draw the line somewhere, this book focuses on the proper management of a single project. As a result, the following advanced project management subjects are not covered in this book:

  • Program management
  • Enterprise portfolio management
  • Enterprise resource management
  • Advanced project risk management topics
  • Advanced project quality management topics
  • Advanced project procurement management topics

Who Should Read This Book?

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Project Management, Second Edition, is recommended for any person who fits into one or more of the following categories:

  • Individuals unsatisfied with other introductory project management books
  • Individuals new to project management, such as
    • Technologists
    • Knowledge workers
    • Students
    • Functional managers
  • Professionals taking a first project management assignment, such as
    • Team leaders
    • Project coordinators
    • Project administrators
    • Project support
    • Functional managers
  • Experienced project managers needing a refresher course
  • Experienced project managers with limited formal project management education

How This Book Is Organized

This book has been divided into five parts:

  • Part I, “Project Management Jumpstart,” sets up the general framework for our project management discussion and accelerates your project management learning curve, including an insightful review of successful projects and project managers.
  • Part II, “Project Planning,” reviews the processes that establish the foundation for your project.
  • Part III, “Project Control,” reviews the processes that allow you to effectively monitor, track, correct, and protect your project’s performance.
  • Part IV, “Project Execution,” reviews the key leadership and people-focused skills that you need to meet today’s business demands.
  • Part V, “Accelerating the Learning Curve...Even More,” provides experienced insights and tips on making better use of MS Project, managing specific real-life project situations, and on many hot project management topics to further accelerate the knowledge base and skill level of the new project manager.

Conventions Used in This Book

  • At the beginning of each chapter, you’ll find a quick overview of the major topics that will be expounded upon as you read through the material that follows.
  • The end of each chapter provides a list of key points along with a visual summary map.
  • You will also find several special sidebars used throughout this book:

Note - These boxes highlight specific learning points or provide supporting information to the current topic.

Tip - These boxes highlight specific techniques or recommendations that could be helpful to most project managers.

Caution - These boxes highlight specific warnings that a project manager should be aware of.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 29, 2010

    Missing text

    I brought a hardcopy of this book and found the content to be very helpful especially the extra tips, notes, and cautions from the author. I like the book so much that I wanted to have an electronic version of this book to keep as a portable reference manual. Not sure if the issue is isolated to NB Nook, but the extra tips, notes, and cautions are missing from the ebook. In addition, there are a lot of useful charts in the hardcopy that are completely legible but are very blury in the ebook. Changing the settings to the largest font does not help. This is my first ebook purchase and I am very disappointed!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    Very Thorough and Readable Introduction to Project Management

    This is an excellent introduction to project management for those who, like me, had little knowledge of project management principles. It's very much a real world guide with a pragmatic approach. It surveys the field well but, as its title would imply, doesn't go into depth on any particular project management methodology. However, it does mention various concepts as they arise and makes suggestions for continued research in areas that may be useful for specific projects.

    All in all, very helpful to the new project manager.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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