Book Review: The Project Management Book

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The brief review
Richard Newton’s Project Management Book is my favorite project management book.
The long review
Richard Newton’s Project Management Book: How To Manage Your Projects to Deliver Outstanding Results is very, very good.
It is issue-based, but extremely practical. It is divided into 10 sections that are thematically organized so you can either read it all or just the section that makes sense to you.
It’s intended for both project managers at the beginning of their careers and those with more experience. It provides a simple guide to managing projects in real-life, without the use of published standards and classrooms. It’s easy to understand and can be used alongside the standards.
Newton wrote that “when a project is completed, something must be different.” If there is nothing different, the project has failed.
Newton isn’t afraid to talk about project failures or how project managers can present themselves and their work best to achieve the results they desire. “Planning won’t make the impossible possible,” Newton writes. “All it does is make the situation clear.”
The book has a section on managing teams. It also contains a strong section on sponsor, stakeholder and team management. This is stuff that is difficult to teach in a classroom course.
He says that the actions of the project team can moderate and positively improve the behavior of stakeholders. “On the other side, a project team’s inappropriate or poorly perceived behavior can make even the most supportive stakeholders enemies.”
Practical advice
There are many stories and examples in the book, but it’s not clear from whom they come. It doesn’t really matter. Even if the concepts are not real, they can be used to explain them. I liked the section on managing difficult projects and practical advice on scheduling and planning.
Some chapters are geared towards complete beginners, but it’s not a bad idea to go back over the basics even if you already have some experience.
The only thing that I found annoying about this book was the insistent placing jargon in italics when they first appear in each section. This allows you to look them up in our glossary.
If you read the book from beginning to end, you will notice that the same words are in italics repeatedly. Or at least that’s what it feels like. This is not a problem if you are just starting to read the book. However, it is a minor criticism for readers who don’t need to look up terms.
Best practice
Newton, like I, is critical of the term “best practice” and articulates his views well. He writes that most so-called best practices are nothing more than what they have found to work well on projects they have worked on. This is one of the sections that targets project managers in more difficult situations. He is not against all best practices.
He writes that he prefers inexperienced teams to use weak project management techniques to adopt “best practice”, regardless of its true status as the best. “Experienced senior project teams should look at the available practices, understand the mindset behind them, and then choose the best for their situation.
This sums up the practical advice you’ll find throughout the book. It is a book I recommend highly.