BOOK LAUNCH – “Managing Smaller and Medium-Sized Projects”
Authors launching their books sometimes find themselves at a bookstore or other venue surrounded by empty seats except perhaps for their loyal family members, a solo ardent fan, random stragglers, and bored staff. Fortunately, my frugal, hooplaless and haka-free book launch collared a few curious people. Here’s me with colleagues and friends from our MBA days (some 30 years ago) including in the foreground Mark and Murray – successful entrepreneurs and clearly extremely intelligent and very discerning readers!
Click here for the FREE first chapter of this 204 page book. If you want a hard copy of the entire book please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org. The book will cost you NZ$38, which sum includes GST and free delivery within NZ.
The book is easy-to-read and is written in a friendly, conversational tone, with Kiwi examples throughout. It thoroughly covers contemporary project management topics and the modern project management process beginning from ideation to closing and post-project product benefit realisation – an extended life span.
While the descriptive title accurately conveys the contents of the book, I admit that this title is hardly unique, captivating or likely to elicit an emotional response from potential readers. However, I offer the book as a pragmatic, up-to-date, no-nonsense resource and essential companion for students, academics and practitioners of project management who want their projects to be a source of inspiration, not perspiration. It is a practical, comprehensive and invaluable guide to managing small and medium-sized projects and can be used by any individual or organisation, public, private or community, and for any type of project.
The book is not overloaded with technical projectspeak. And here’s my warning about this – we need to be careful when communicating particularly with our project clients and external stakeholders (people or groups outside our organisation who have a stake or interest in our project), some of whom could find our use of specialised project management terminology patronising or even alienating. It’s seen as linguistic tribalism. Such language can be annoying and even intimidating if you’re not in the tribe. The use of such language might also cement unfortunate stereotypes. Project managers are sometimes cited as top offenders. While our project management colleagues may appreciate and even be impressed with our command of the jargon, gobbledygook and acronyms of our profession, some of our clients are not.
One – Introductory Stuff
Two – Principles, Processes, Terminology, Roles, Responsibilities and Leadership
Three – Recognising the Need and Justifying the Investment
Four – Preparing the Charter
Five – Engaging with Stakeholders
Six – Outsourcing the Project
Seven – Planning the Work
Eight – Creating a Work Breakdown Structure
Nine – Analysing the Work
Ten – Scheduling the Work
Eleven – Managing the Risk
Twelve – Working the Plan
Thirteen – Quitting the Project
Fourteen – Closing the Project
Fifteen – Managing the Change
Sixteen – Securing the Benefits
One – Common Terms
Two – Templates
Three – Risk Checklist
Four – Example Trade-off Analysis
The book structure is based on the following straightforward project management process:
Project Management Principles
Many PMs believe that there is a right or best way to manage projects. They recognise a number of hard-learned principles or fundamental truths to be observed. While conscientiously adhering to such principles will not guarantee success, I suggest they are ignored at our peril. Listed here in no particular order, the following ten most frequently identified guiding practices, which I have derived through the analysis of both successful and unsuccessful projects, are emphasised and fully analysed throughout this book:
- Establish and regularly reappraise the justification for the project.
- Have a sponsor who gives us PMs clear direction and effective support.
- Agree and unambiguously define roles and responsibilities.
- Identify and communicate with users and other stakeholders early and often.
- Apply a disciplined approach from project conception to benefit realisation.
- Pre-empt problems, including HSWA hazards, and address issues promptly.
- Check progress regularly and take timely corrective action to keep on track.
- Manage change to ensure effective product adoption.
- Recognise that project success occurs when business case benefits are realised.
- Capture lessons as the project proceeds and learn from each project.
Having mentioned these principles, it would of course be wrong to hold them in obstinate blindness since they’re inclined to evolve. For example, it’s only in recent years that stakeholder engagement, change management and benefit realisation have been formally recognised as important PM practices.
Benefits Lead Initiative
As the author I remind you that managing and meeting the parameters of scope, time, budget, quality and risk is only part of our job. While achieving these objectives is important and suggests that we did a good job of planning and executing the project, adhering to the project plan doesn’t necessarily ensure that our project realises the business case benefits that justified the investment, and while us project managers may still use the time-tested orthodox techniques described in this book, we also need to fully understand the business need for our project, how to engage with the stakeholders, how to outsource work, how to manage change associated with the introduction of our new project products, and how to realise the anticipated benefits. In fact, a project is a “benefits-lead initiative”.
Three other popular books that I’ve published on project management are:
“Orchestrating Your Project” ISBN 0-958-2309-7-8
“The Framework for Successful Project Management” (Editions 1, 2 and 3) ISBN 978-1-877479-38-0 Hit here for a free e-copy.
“Managing Murphy” ISBN 978-0-473-18977-8 Hit here for a free e-copy.
Seems that my next book will be “PRINCESS – a Soft Skills Companion for PRINCE2.” The PRINCE2 project management methodology largely ignores the so-called soft skills (also referred to as the human element, interpersonal skills, behavioural skills or people skills) essential for PM success. Once the hard skills or technical skills of PRINCE2 and other project management methodologies have been mastered, it’s always the people that make the difference. Soft skills help us use our hard skills expertise to full advantage. Soft skills are about handling situations rather than specific tasks, and to be well-rounded project managers requires that we have a good blend of both these skill types. Research certainly supports this assertion – hence this book proposition.
As we know, project management is both an art and a science and it is no longer enough to master only the science of project management. Soft skills include leadership, communication, empathy, team building, negotiation, stakeholder engagement, influencing, problem solving, decision-making, personal time management, conflict resolution, coaching, facilitation and other such verbs that largely defy quantification, whereas hard skills are readily quantifiable and generally phrased with nouns such as work breakdown structures, network diagrams, Gantt charts, earned value, budgets etc. Soft skills are largely subjective, qualitative, undefined, intangible and not confined only to project management endeavours.
Some practitioners say that a project manager with good hard skills can manage simple projects, but only a project manager with excellent soft skills and appropriate experience can manage complex, long-term projects where leadership is essential. My view is that should our project include people other than ourselves we’re in the management and leadership business. Since no two projects are identical, a different ratio of soft skills to hard skills is appropriate for each project. In fact, the hard reality is that soft skills aren ́t so soft at all and require a demanding level of introspection and self-awareness. Perhaps the currently high rate of software project failures is due in part to a lack of these soft skills since hard skills remain the predominant focus for most IT project management methodologies. Also, as a trainer I realise that it is harder to quantify a return on investment for soft skills tuition.
If blog readers have any ideas for inclusion in this next book let me know please. Your contribution will be welcomed and acknowledged.