Straight Talk on Project Management

New year, new reads

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New Year, new reads. Three great books for IT Project Managers

The New Year is a great time to sharpen your IT Project delivery skills. 

A great way to do this by adding to your IT Project Management book library.

As Malcolm X famously said, “My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”

I’m sure, like me, your IT Project Management curiosity is never satisfied! So, in this blog, I’ll share three books that will provide fresh perspectives on IT project management. They may even inspire gift ideas for the Project professional in your life!

They will certainly look impressive in the background on your bookshelf on those Teams or Zoom meetings!  

1 – Getting the Job Done by Kevin Torf. £12.25 Amazon

In “Getting the Job Done”, Kevin Torf introduces us to his P.R.O.J.E.C.T.S. framework, and explains the acronym letter by letter. Drawing upon case studies and 40 years of experience, the book is basically a series of constructive, bite-size hints, tips and hacks that can help you at any stage of your project, from pre-planning to post project review.

The tips are headed by the letters of the acronym P.R.O.J.E.C.T.S. – which refer to: Planning; Reflection; Organisation; Juggling; Empowerment; Communication; Teamwork; and Standards.

Talking to Cornelius Fichtner on The APM (Association for Project Management) Podcast, Kevin said, “As we started sorting and organising all the tips, I’ve tried to put them into different categories and I started realising, you know, the word “projects” actually goes well with the acronym of planning and juggling and refection. These are keywords … and I thought, well, this could be a great way to, maybe, structure the book. And I then started organising it accordingly, and it took on its life and you have the acronym that you have today.” 

The project management tips in Getting the Job Done (there’s about 100), have been used on enterprise level, mission critical projects and are presented in such a way that make it both a great cover to cover read and a book that you can dip in and out – indeed it is not necessary to read the entire book to successfully apply the lessons learned, you can put the book’s insights into practice one tip at a time.

“I never started that with the intention of writing a book out,” Kevin told the APM Podcast, “But over the years, I’ve been trying to refine my ideas and thoughts. We practice a lot of these ideas that are in the book today, and I’ve been doing that for the last 10 years. And I wanted to start trying to bold out a record of some of the thoughts that I had, and I have refined them over the years and once we had a compilation of them, I thought, well, what a great idea to make this into a book.”

The delivers great relatability too (referencing events and people from sports and film, for example) to lend greater context to the book’s teachings and each section also has a real-life case study to demonstrate the lessons in a project environment. Kevin explains that this is a “way to find a way to compare a tip to some time in history that would make it a little bit more fun and more palatable. I generally don’t like reading very complex academic books myself. So, when I did decide to start writing this book, I want to define a way to do it in a manner that someone could find very light-hearted find something in history that could compare the tip to. And yes, I did some research and we looked for different ideas and those with the tips that came through and were ‘anecdoted’ into each one of them.”

2 –
Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Solution Tools for Leaders and Teams by Terry Schmidt £16.99 Amazon

Whether you’re a Project Management beginner or an experienced project professional, you’ll get something out of this book. On balance, the more experience you have, the more you’ll appreciate it so, if you are a beginner, I’d recommend reading it now and then again in a few years. There are certainly concepts within the book that I know my younger self may have struggled to grasp, experience adds colour and dimension. That said, as a new starter, I know I’d also have gleaned much from Terry’s writing, especially around being able to understand and clearly demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of a project.

There are insights that are pitched at a more senior project professional, if you ever struggle to define or communicate the business case of a project within its wider organisational setting, this book helps design and define goals with this in mind. I didn’t have to do that as a freshly qualified PM, it was above my pay grade back then (although it’s a useful skill to have in your locker at any point in your career!), and the book is full of lessons and illustrations that chime with you more if you have a few troublesome projects under your belt!   

It isn’t a new book, the first edition was published in 2009, and if I had one criticism of its earlier iteration it would be that it focussed more on the “what” and “why” of a project rather than the “how”. To be fair though, the “what” and “why” rarely changes whereas the “how” is evolving constantly, so Terry Schmidt’s focus on those aspects properly kept the book relevant – it’s consistently been in Amazon’s Project Management top 50 Best Sellers.

Certainly, many projects (and indeed businesses and organisations) fail because their strategy is too vague. This book helps project leaders clarify this, defining where you are now, where you want to be tomorrow, and therefore what actions you need to execute to get there.

Even in that first edition, the book helps project teams know “what” to do and “why” but it worth buying the “Revised and Updated” version (April 2021), which has an expanded section on turning ideas, problems, and opportunities into projects which is very much of the moment and there are also more contemporary case studies that cover how to pivot your business to meet changing needs, again, hugely relevant in the post pandemic project landscape.   

There is also a newly created chapter on managing your “inner game” to achieve project excellence and a new approach, “Iterating to Excellence” that aims to help produce solutions smoother and faster. 

Strategic Project Management Made Simple, is described as “an indispensable volume for leaders and workers seeking to transform their approach to planning, driving, and executing projects in their organisation”.

3 – Straight Talk on Project Management by David Cotgreave (Free eBooks, also available from Amazon, Kindle from 99p, paperback from £3.85).

OK cheeky bit of self-promotion!

These books (yes there’s more than one volume!!) cover a wealth of topics collated from hundreds of Stoneseed blogs, just like this one, from Project Management as a Service, to an array of Project & Programme Management real life stories. I hope that they reflect Stoneseed’s passion for Project Management, and, while remaining light-hearted and, in places, even funny – I’d like to think they are always informative and solution-driven.

They’re available to download as eBooks from our website and from Amazon where one customer said, “Bought this thinking it might be an interesting page turner whilst on my journey to the office. But found the articles insightful, funny, and easy to read (not your usual heavyweight stuff). For the cost of the download, it’s a cracking good read for anyone in the world of Project delivery.”

Nigel Wakeman, Head of PMO, WRC plc said, “The blogs are very interesting and informative with really good use of real experiences. Always good to see new approach/technique or just to see confirmation of your own thoughts.”

Eddie Palaci, Director of Service Delivery/Project Management – Network Sourcing at AT&T
shared this feedback, “I just like reading your blogs, always really informative and interesting.”

Project Manager, Steph Harby added, “I find the Stoneseed blogs very interesting, well written and not least, supportive in what can be quite a lonely role sometimes – that of Project Manager.”

Click to access free downloads via eBook and PDF or buy a copy from Amazon as a Kindle or paperback copy.

As Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island”, so if you have any Project Management book treasures you’d like to recommend, I would love to hear from you.

And, naturally, if having read all my eBooks, you identify a gap in your IT Project delivery capability that Stoneseed can help with – get in touch about that too! Happy reading and happy New Year!

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed