If you’re going to reengineer your entire organization around ad hoc, short-term projects, you’d better have people who know how to run projects well. And when, according to Standish Group, only 28 percent of IT projects meet “basic” standards of success, we’ve clearly got a long way to go.
Smart big companies are building project management offices (often, leveraging resources they first organized for Y2K). Smart people are learning project management on their own, without being asked. Smart people in a hurry are doing it with Project Management JumpStart.
Kim Heldman has thoroughly demystified the proven principles of project management, casting them in language that anyone can understand, and use. She uses industry-standard terminology -- defining it simply, with loads of real-life analogies and examples.
You’ll start by understanding what a project is, what its life cycle looks like, and what processes must be followed in order to run a project well (from goal setting through completion, and beyond). She outlines the cross-disciplinary skills good project managers need, offering tips on developing them if you don’t have them (handle every piece of information once, leave yourself voicemail when you have an idea and no place to write it down).
Then, it’s on to the project processes, starting with “initiation.” Heldman presents an intelligent approach for identifying and prioritizing new projects, including a simple overview of methods for calculating ROI. She explains how to document stakeholder roles and responsibilities; walks through creating a project charter; and covers the kickoff meeting. There’s practical help with defining goals and scope, agreeing on deliverables, discovering requirements and critical success factors, and recognizing assumptions and constraints.
You’ll walk through defining tasks and activities associated with your product, creating work breakdown structures, setting milestones, sequencing tasks, and identifying dependencies that can bottleneck your project. There’s a full chapter on scheduling, another on budgeting, and another -- invaluable -- on assessing and planning for risks. Heldman shows how to do all this without going near Microsoft Project or any similar tool.
At some point, the plans are ready, and it’s time to execute. Heldman covers every facet of project execution, from assembling your team to negotiation and problem solving, reporting progress to identifying problems -- and fixing them before you get off track. Intelligent project managers recognize that projects change, and Heldman shows how to account for those changes, establishing procedures for incorporating them, assessing their impact on deliverables, staffing, budgets, and schedule. She wraps up with a full chapter on the end-of-project stuff folks often skip: “post mortems,” archiving project information, and the always-popular “Celebrating Your Success” phase.
When you’re ready to learn even more about project management, you’ll want to pursue PMP certification by the renowned Project Management Institute. Heldman largely utilizes PMI’s approach, so you’ll be off to a great start. (To get the rest of the way, check out Sybex’s PMP: Project Management Professional Study). Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.