Project Management for You [Book Review]

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There is a gap between the ‘back of envelope meetings’ that we use to plan simple projects and the more complex project management methods that are used to build rocket ships and nuclear submarines. The distance in complexity between projects such as planning a birthday party or putting a man onto the moon was not that great. Our day-to-day work was much simpler and we didn’t have to constantly plan and develop new ideas and make them a reality. Today, however, this is all that we do.
Project Management for You by Cesar Abeid is Cesar’s latest book. It is designed to help people who are new to managing projects. It’s practical and realistic, and a guide for getting started and making your ideas a reality.
The PM4U Method
Cesar’s method of project management is simple but effective. You are not his target audience if you have a lot of experience and credentials as a project manager.
Here’s how he explains how to get work done.
Composing: Describe the idea for your project as clearly as possible.
Decomposition: Reduce it into smaller pieces or deliverables.
Time for Decision Making: Decide how you want to proceed.
Defining Activities: Once you have the “what” and “how” broken down, it is time to consider the “how”. I believe this step and step 3 can be done in parallel for most projects.
Managing Risk: Create and maintain a list of project risk factors and mitigation plans.
Team building and delegation: Gather your team and assign them the tasks that you can’t or won’t do.
Estimating Cost and Duration: Get input from your experts to create your estimates. This is where the chicken and the egg comes in: You may need to hire experts and incur costs before you have total costs.
Communications: Plan your communications for your project.
Leadership: This isn’t a stage in the process. It’s something you do throughout the process. Cesar calls it out however as a step to ensure it is not overlooked.
Doing the work: Let’s not forget about doing some tasks.
Reviewing: This is what project managers who have been in the field for a while would call monitoring and controlling.
Managing Change: Although this could happen at any time, Cesar recommends the change management process.
Lessons learned: I’m glad that this is part of the process. It is not a separate phase, but a continuous opportunity for improvement throughout the project. Chapter 17 provides valuable lessons learned, which is especially useful for novice project managers. It will help you establish good habits right from the beginning of your career. Cesar shares the example of his lesson learned document for work-based traveling. I have a travel checklist, which covers everything I need to pack before I leave the home, but not a log of lessons learned. I suppose if I have one, it’s in my head. He talks about not bringing running gear to conferences, as there isn’t enough time to exercise. This is a lesson I don’t need to be taught, as I have never taken running gear on a work trip.
We’re done. Project closed.
Although it’s easy, there are still 14 steps. It’s not clear how I could have kept the list shorter, but it was comprehensive and easy to comprehend.
The project management pedigree
It’s always fascinating to learn how people got into project managing. Cesar writes about it. He is open about his academic success, and how it led to shortcuts at work that didn’t work.
He describes how, after his father died, he realized that project management was something he could learn to make him more employable and keep the family business afloat.
Cesar hosts a popular podcast about project management. The whole book is written from the perspective of a mentor. He uses easy-to-understand examples.