Essential Project Management Skills by Kerry Wills was published by CRC press in 2010. The project management literature is awash with titles, papers and training courses that describe techniques such as risk management, planning and earned value. In conjunction with this there is an associated emphasis within the industry for methodologies such as PRINCE2 and other in house bespoke methods.
To successfully deliver projects on time, on budget and within the required scope project managers should be able to deploy the correct techniques and methodology specific to their particular work context. However, amongst many other factors it is now recognised that certain skills are required to deliver projects in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
The central premise of the book is that the modern business landscape is changing, and that the project manager must evolve through the acquisition and application of new skills to meet the demands the new landscape places on projects and the project manager.
Essential Project Management Skills describes those skills that a project manager should have to thrive in the new business environment. The book is divided into four sections; background, changing project landscape, the new project management skills and concluding with a summary.
The book opens by introducing the concepts that are related to the changing business and project landscape and considers their impact on projects.
The second section is a discussion of several trends identified by the author within project management and the challenges those trends pose the modern project manager. Four trends are identified, namely: the need to reduce cost, increased project complexity, the requirement for additional rigour and the changing workforce. The impact of each trend on the discipline of project management is analysed through a series of case studies.
The third section outlines those new project management skills that the author believes a project manager should possess to successfully deliver projects. The author suggests that these skills can be categorised under the following headings; additional rigour, consultative approach, managing information and leadership.
The final section summarises the evolution of the project landscape, the challenges it now presents and the skills a project manager requires managing in today’s environment.
The book is well written and the author’s prose easy to read, diagrams and tables are provided where required although on occasions, such as table 1.1 p4, it is not clear how they support the text.
As practicing project managers we should aspire to ever increasing levels of professionalism. As part of this process project managers should be reflective practitioners and learn lessons from each project engagement. Through its use of a number of wide ranging case studies this book can accelerate that process. The reader can draw from their own body of knowledge when reviewing the case studies and reflect on the success or otherwise of the author’s and associated contributors experiences.
The book is a welcome and valuable addition to the project management library. It bridges the gap between abstract project management theory and the reality of the environment the modern project manager operates in. If the time is taken to critically review the information provided and reflect on its application then the book will have served its purpose.
— Reviewed by Mark Norman – December 2010
ABOUT OUR REVIEWER: Mark Norman is an engineer and project manager with over 20 years experience across a number of industry sectors. Mark has delivered technical and business change projects in the military, private and public sectors from both the client and contractor perspective.