Project Management for Dummies by Stanley E. Portny
The "Dummies Series" book, Project Management for Dummies, by Stanley E. Portny (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2001), is, in my opinion, a relatively easy-to-read (although also somewhat structurally fragmented in places), step-by-step "how-to" book, for either current or prospective project managers, with or without experience. In life, every individual has projects to complete - usually a never-ending series of them, in fact, and often more than one project to complete simultaneously. One's projects may be personal or professional; voluntary or required. They may be for our selves alone; for friends or family; for churches, clubs, or communities; special events; or for colleagues; companies, or employers.
As the author concurs, in his "Introduction" to the text:
Projects have been around since ancient times. Noah built the ark, Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona
Lisa, Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine -- all projects. . . . Why then, is the topic of project management suddenly of such great interest today? The answer is simple. The audience has changed and the stakes are higher. (p. 1)
Management projects in particular, however, as Portny also points out, within Chapter 1, must meet three key criteria; they must have (1) "Specific outcomes";(2) "Definite start and end dates," and (3) Established budgets" (p. 10). Further, as that chapter mentions, project management "includes three basic operations" (p. 12), which are: (1)planning; (2)organizing; and (3) control (Portny).
In management today, for managers at all levels, completing projects; meeting project goals; and meeting project deadlines, are more important, as skills, aptitudes, and professional achievements, than ever before, especially within today's super competitive business environment. As Portny also states at the outset: "Successful organizations create projects that produce desired results in established timeframes with assigned resources" (p. 9). Clearly, those who can successfully, skillfully, and within budgets and deadlines complete projects have an advantage over those who cannot.
Many suddenly find themselves project managers, not by choice, but due to either changed or expanded job descriptions or expectations, or just plain company need. Increasingly, project management has increasingly become a ticket to job promotion and career advancement (or not).
Moreover, if one has no previous formal training in project management, one may need to simply learn such skills on the job, and quickly. Project Management for Dummies is written for such individuals: those who would like to develop new project management skills (but also for those who desire to increase their current ones). The book is, I believe, potentially very useful for readers within either group.
This book guides one through the beginning, middle, and ending project stages. It offers guidelines and tips on planning; navigating through ambiguities and uncertainties; teamwork; time management, organizational strategies; handling paperwork; staying on track; meeting deadlines, and bringing projects to a successful, satisfactory, and timely conclusion.
Topics Project Management for Dummies covers include: making project schedules; building teams and sustaining teamwork; budgeting; coping with risks and surprises; optimally integrating technology into project management; and keeping team members motivated, on task, and within budgets and deadlines. Structurally, the book is divided into five parts (I-V). Each part consists of between three and six chapters, with 20 chapters in all.
Chapter headings and topics covered include (to name but a few) "What is Project Management (And How Do I Get Paid Extra to Do It?)" (Chapter 1); "Estimating Resource Requirements" (Chapter 5); "Tracking Progress and Maintaining Control" (Chapter 10); "Dealing With Risk and Uncertainty" (Chapter 15); and "Ten Tips for Being a Better Project Manager" (Chapter 20). There are also two appendices (A and B) and an index.
Chapter 2 covers defining and understanding what one is trying to accomplish with a project, knowing who and what one is doing a project for, and why that person or entity needs the project completed. This chapter also offers ways to avoid others' having unrealistic expectations of the project or oneself as manager. "Looking at the big picture" includes "figuring out why you're doing
This project"; "identifying the initiator"; "identifying others who may benefit from your project" and "defining needs to be addressed" (pp. 29-32). In short, Chapter two focuses on defining the rationale(s) and parameters of the project; clarifying those for oneself and for all others involved; and laying the initial groundwork toward project completion.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 focus on "Getting from Here to There"; "You Want This Done When"; and "Estimating Resource Requirements." Key ideas contained within these chapters, include knowing and planning…