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REVIEW: "The Art of Project Management", Scott Berkun

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKARPRMA.RVW 20061023 The Art of Project Management , Scott Berkun, 2005, 0-596-00786-8, U$39.95/C$55.95 %A Scott Berkun www.scottberkun.com %C 103
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2006
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      BKARPRMA.RVW 20061023

      "The Art of Project Management", Scott Berkun, 2005, 0-596-00786-8,
      U$39.95/C$55.95
      %A Scott Berkun www.scottberkun.com
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2005
      %G 0-596-00786-8
      %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
      %O U$39.95/C$55.95 800-998-9938 707-829-0515 fax: 707-829-0104
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007868/robsladesinterne
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007868/robsladesinte-21
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007868/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 488 p.
      %T "The Art of Project Management"

      The preface states that the audience for the book consists of new or
      experienced managers or team leaders, programmers working on large
      projects, or students of business management, product design, or
      software engineering. Chapter one is titularly a history of project
      management, but contains vague and pedestrian advice with little
      historical background of any substance. There is a mention that
      Microsoft's program management incorporates both technical and
      marketing input, but the text does not say much about management as
      such. (Berkun does state that Microsoft's system is an example of
      "matrix organization," but although this term is used a number of
      times and is obviously significant to the author, the concept is not
      well defined in the book.) A list of conflicting behaviours and
      characteristics of managers could possibly be useful as a reminder to
      examine one's own preferences and conduct.

      Part one outlines the planning phase and activities involved in a
      project. Chapter two takes a rather pessimistic look at schedules.
      There are good points on the purpose and psychological benefits of
      timetables, as well as practical advice on rough estimates and how to
      make them more accurate, but the material is also bloated with
      verbiage. The look at planning, in chapter three, concentrates on
      arguments and communications, and is not organized very well. "The
      vision thing" is often undefined in business, and chapter four doesn't
      stray far from the vague model, but it does cover overall objectives
      and offers some tips on how to write vision documents. Chapter five,
      while it is supposed to deal with how to generate ideas, focusses on
      requirements, specifications, and the elicitation of those details.
      Scope creep, an ever present danger in any project, is minimally
      analyzed in chapter six.

      Part two turns to specific project management skills. Chapter seven
      examines the writing of specifications, and is mostly a warning
      against the over-engineered "one-size-fits-all" templates suggested
      for that purpose. After telling us that the standard advice on making
      decisions is of no use, Berkun gives us the standard advice on making
      decisions, in chapter eight. The usual admonitions are also given in
      chapter nine, this time about communication and relationships. It is
      rather ironic that chapter ten, in giving a list of ways to annoy
      people (and conversely, how not to), states right off the top that the
      best way to make people turn you off is to assume that they are
      ignorant. The text then goes on to provide generic and banal counsel
      on process (mostly administrative controls). The recommendations on
      using email repeat tips given previously on communications, and miss
      the fact that email really is a very specialized form and subject to
      generating misunderstandings. The tips for planning meetings are
      decent, but limited. Chapter eleven has vague guidance on what to do
      when things go wrong.

      Part three is entitled management, but concentrates on leadership.
      Some good messages on trust are given in chapter twelve, but the
      content is more verbose than necessary, and the basic tips get lost in
      the stories. Chapter thirteen is supposed to be about "making things
      happen," but ends up being a grab bag of project operation topics and
      tips. Scheduling is revisited in chapter fourteen, with more low-
      level detail. It's hard to pin down a topic for chapter fifteen, but
      much of the content deals with changes to requirements, and setting
      priorities for handling bugs. Chapter sixteen finishes off the book
      with a melange of politics and psychology.

      Experienced managers might find this amusing and potentially useful
      bedtime reading: there won't be anything new, but there may have been
      some things you've forgotten. Those who are new to the management
      task will probably find this to be a helpful guide: there are pieces
      missing, but most of the important stuff is here, and it gives you
      enough to get going.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006 BKARPRMA.RVW 20061023


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