OK, I have to admit that my first instinct when picking up the book was not the most positive one. Cheesy pictures – check. Strange US spellings – check. Dedication (and photo of) the office dog ‘Bear’ who “did not receive a salary but worked tirelessly 24 hours a day” – erm, check. Despite all that, I was sold on the by-line ‘How to Get Things Done in Less Time. Surely that is every PM’s dream?!
The Complete Guide to Project Management is aimed at new Project Managers and Project Assistants and endeavours to give them a complete overview of their new role. It takes the reader through the whole process of running a successful project and gives them the tools required to do so. Practically everything you could ever need is covered, not only do you get a complete introduction to your new career, you get the full details of running a project – from estimated costs and resources, right down to Excel formulas.
I found the “Software is Not Rocket Science” chapter the most useful as it evaluates all the possible software and internet options available to keep your project on target (including some free ones!), which is extremely useful if you have no idea where to start. Even if you use Bereaux’s suggestions as a starting point to work out what you need, it helps to narrow down your choices.
The chapters are well laid out and the text is clear and concise, which makes it an enjoyable read rather than that looming ‘homework’ feeling you get when you normally pick up a work-related book. It also throws in a bit of pop psychology – I learnt that on my team I have ‘monopolisers’, ‘mixers’ and ‘methodicals’, and don’t get me started on ‘cheerleaders’.
Bereaux’s writings are evidenced with case studies from Project Managers of many different experience levels and backgrounds which work well to authenticate her writing and give the reader confidence. Seasoned Project Managers may also find these case studies useful, if only for an insight into how other people run projects.
The book delivers what it says on the tin, and thus proves very useful for a general overview. It does not tell you what you have to do – rather, it gives you a list of approaches and systems to try. It does not preach or patronise, but gives you the opportunity to learn along with the book. So, if you can overlook the cheesy pictures and the slightly irritating ‘flying a plane’ analogy that underpins the chapter headings (e.g. “Who is flying your plane?” and “Choosing a runway” [Shudder]), I would recommend it as a read for a good PM overview.
March 2010 – Reviewed by Claire Collings