[Book Review] DK Essential Managers: Project Management

I’ve been managing projects for years … probably most of my adult life. Everything from digitizing medical equipment blueprints to complex web applications to playing in bands. Over the last several years my work led me to research and learn quite a bit about project management in a more formal manner than I’d ever known it before. Over time I’ve refined my knowledge but I’m always searching for ways to make project management better, smoother, and more accurate. After digging around I found a link to the DK Essential Managers: Project Management book, was impressed by its succinct but informative content, and want to let everyone know about it.

This book turned out to be a no-nonsense, real-world manual for project management. Sure, you won’t find any in-depth case studies or anecdotal stories about fictitious characters doing what the book says but if you’re looking for a practical, go-to book then look no further. At $4.99 for the Kindle version this book is incredibly well priced for any budget and the value you’ll get from it far outweighs the cost. The paperback can be had for as low as $2.75 if you want (or need) a hard copy. If you do any project management at all, this book will guide you through the steps needed to help you keep your projects healthy.

The book uses a six phase approach which provides a rough outline for any type of project. They are:

  1. Initiation
  2. Definition
  3. Planning
  4. Control
  5. Implementation
  6. Review

The book takes you chapter-by-chapter through each of the six phases, providing solid advice and real-world solutions to common scenarios and problems. I wish I’d found this book 5 years ago … it would have saved me a lot of time, energy, and money. All of the infomation presented can be applied to projects of any size and of any type, making it a versatile and definitive field manual for managing the stuff you need to get done.

The section on time estimataion was an especially relevant topic as I’m working to get my own life back on a decent schedule while repairing some routines and habits. In the past, my time-management skills have left something to be desired and it’s an area I’m constantly working to improve. One of the things I was focused on when working with a development team was improving our ability to estimate work before, during, and after projects. I struggled to find concrete, useable advice on estimation techniques, formulas, and the like. I found a lot of theories but nothing that I felt could be reliably applied to our work or could repeatedly produce accurate estimates. This book’s section on the subject is a scant 2 pages but it’s filled with more useable tips than I’ve found in books that devoted two or three times that.

The book covers everything from team management to risk assessment (and beyond), all the while giving you step-by-step guidelines to follow. Now, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that no two projects are exactly (or even remotely) alike so you can’t repeat any plan to the letter and expect stellar results. The steps in this book are more like rails to set your own project management style on. You’ll need to analyze each stage of any project and apply the proper technique in order to improve project performance. After reading this book you’ll be armed with all sorts of tips and tricks you can use. If you’re already doing project management, you’ll use this book like a reference manual. If you’re just getting started this book could be your lifeline. No matter what, if you’re looking for a quick and informative read about project management, do yourself a favor and buy this book.

Categories: Books.