Soundtrack: Relax and take it easy (video clip is horrible, so this is why I prefer to display just cover :))
The book is definitely the must to read for any manager or leader in middle size or big organization (not only from IT sector). It is very visible, that the author put the strong effort in collecting the experiences from big number of companies. It is a pity that number of companies did approve publishing, but the list of contributors is very impressive anyway and it includes the brands like Sun, CA (all their procedures are published in appendix D! p733), HP, Nortel, Erricson and ABB. Sometimes the author allows treating the pages of his book as the free commercial for these companies, but usually the valuable information is passed including even some sample forms. Each chapter is full of samples from real life of the company with sweat and pain scenarios (the second one usually under the cover) – that type of approach gives that book a special, unique taste. Usually that type of book is saying you in rounded words what should be done, but this book says you also how. It covers a very wide angle of topics starting from the document flow systems, organization structures and finishing at some aspects of corporate politic.
When you start to cooperate with some organization, your first step should be formal or informal analysis of the situation. There are some samples of self-surveys (p653) and strong input for preparation employee survey - case 5, appendix I (p787), but the most interesting is the 2nd chapter defining the 5 levels of project management culture:
• Accepted by directorate
• Accepted by managers
There is number of samples, definitions and methodologies, but the most useful will be the appendix B and C, giving you ready to use surveys to find out, on what level your organization is. If you need some guidelines in the area, the part 5.14 (p.248) contains some auto commercial about the Kerzner tools used for such The Growing and Adult stage are also broken into the pieces within 5 levels of Project Management Maturity Model (p239)
• Common language
• Common processes
• One methodology
• Competitors analysis
• Constant improvement (nice checklist in chapter 14.7 – p. 600)
Chapter 4 is giving you number of interesting samples from various companies, which worked out their own methodologies basing often on PMBoK. Prince2 is mentioned much more rarely and it seems like just Sun use it (p676). It was also interesting to read that Sun created originally RUP methodology. Anyway, there are not many books, which are brave enough to say that there is no golden rule and each company must create their own methodology. The IT fellow will find some well-known spots like Microsoft’s MSF methodology (p160), but most of the samples are quite fresh. The CIGNA sample (p138) was very good showing very well the linkage between the process and project plan. Intel (p147) enlists in details how the magic happens in real life, focusing on the document management. The list of critical aspects, when creating the methodology (p146) is also very valuable, but the best is the DePICT methodology from Exel (p153). It was the only company brave enough to publish their own document templates. Bravo!
Except strict project management the book covers also the general organization management issues including the Project Portfolio Management in chapter 7. The most interesting were the processes of choosing the projects for realization and two matrixes at drawings 7.6 and 7.7 (p308).
The 8th chapter is about the Project Management Office. I must admit, it was the first time I see so good PMO portraiture. Definitely, each organization has different understanding of PMOs and it is presented in part 8.4, but list of duties (p.334) seems to be common for most of them. Again, the chapter shows the real life situations starting from project approval mechanism like the 3 level recommendation mechanism (p354), closing at the sample template of document, which closes the project (p340) and set of sample postmortem questions (p360). Unfortunately, the implementation of documents management systems, which is in PMO duties, is not covered. The only things, which can be found, are some general drawings in chapter 16 (16.4 p647 and 16.5 p648), which shows document libraries structures on intranet sites. It would be great to see more in the area.
Very often, the risk management is neglected and that is probably why the author creates the whole chapter 9 just about that. He treats it in the complex and process way (checklist at p402), gives great ABB potential risk list (p413) and Motorola’s risk management system (p428) plus focus strongly on change management (p418).
I mentioned about the politic at the beginning, even if the book does not mention the word. That is known, however that half of success is to know what to do and the other half is to find a way to implement the change. The book give you a lot of tips how to fight with the resistance against the change, which exists often in big companies. The book mentions the interesting change management preparation list (p 243) and cool “basket team” scenario (p443), which shows that there will be always the person, whom you will not be able to change. The whole chapter 11 is discussing how to win the directorate attention. The sponsor or sponsor committee institution seems to be the best for it and chapter 11.2 contains some nice proves for it (p483).
To avoid accusation for being paid for this review, I must also to say a couple of bad things about the book. In some moments the author is trying to prove that some periods in history was about some particular stages in organizations grow. It went too far and drawings like 1.3 (p23) saying e.g. that the year 1994 was about “Cost analysis of live cycle” is simply funny. This is invalid tone, which can be heard through the whole book. Luckily, it is not in the mainstream and it can be ignored. The other disadvantage is, that there are some moments where the book is just the flood of words like the chapter 12 treating about trainings. The book would be as good as it is without this chapter.
On the other hand, the book shows definitely how wide the topic is and sometimes the mechanisms are just mentioned without further description:
• Statement Of Work (p196) – part of scope management
• Work Breakdown Structure (p196) – tasks management
• S curve (p196) – cost management
• Responsibility Assignment Matrix (p197) – responsibility management
As book has already over 1000 pretty well used pages, there is no space for blaming the author. See just for a second how often have I used the words sample and “in practice” – it describes the best the content of the book.
Score: 5.5/6 (very good)
The numbers of pages are based on polish translation of the book and they may be different in english version.