Book Review - The Project Management Book, by Richard Newton
The Project Management Book is part of a series of business books that deals with popular topics like strategy, management, leadership, project management, etc. This series is published by
by Financial Times Publishing. Both the title of this book and its cover are appealing, but what about the content? Is this book worth reading?
What You Should be Doing, Not How You Should be Doing It
I would like to start by clarifying a very important aspect: this book is not about how to do project management in terms of documents, templates, procedures, etc. The Project Management Book is about what you should be doing as a project manager, in order to become a great project manager that delivers successful projects.
If you are looking for a "how to" manual, you should be looking elsewhere. But, when it comes to what you should be doing as a project manager, this book is a great coach, right from the start.
The Project Management Book - What's Inside
The book is split in 10 parts: it starts with the foundations of project management, how to set up a project and it ends with how to deal with challenging projects and how to improve as a project manager.
Each part starts with a few bits about what the chapter is about and why it is important. Then, the author shares his views and experiences about each important component of the subject being covered. Each chapter ends with a brief case study, sharing the learning of experienced professionals in the area covered by the chapter. Even though they are brief, some of these stories are interesting and share useful tips.
The beginning of the book might put you off though, especially if you are an experienced project manager. As most project management books, this one too starts with common definitions. For the beginner though, they are useful. I would recommend them also to experienced professionals who are not project or program managers. Richard's way of defining project management might challenge your assumptions about projects and project management.
As soon as part 2 starts, the book gets interesting and useful to everyone. Richard Newton has chosen a direct and friendly approach to writing about project management. He talks from personal experience and it shows. The chapters are not very long so they don't get boring. Yes, they share ideas that you will find in other project management books but they also include bits and pieces that are very personal to Richard Newton and his experience.
For example, few project management books deal with the human side of project management, which is as at least as important as following methodologies in a disciplined manner. Richard Newton shares tips and tricks about how to create high-performing project teams or how to deal with customers and stakeholders. One of the key ideas in this book is that relationships are central to project management and Richard shares plenty of tips that will help project managers focus on building relationships.
Another important area taken into consideration by Richard Newton is the culture of the organization you are in and the context in which projects are delivered. Your typical project management literature focuses little on these aspects that may have a high impact on the successful delivery of projects. If you need some advice in this area, you will find it in The Project Management Book.
Very few books share tips about how to deal, as a project manager, with business reorganizations and political fights for supremacy, inside an organization. The Project Management Book has valuable content also in this area.
As you can see, there's a recurring theme to this book: it shines not in the sharing of typical project management advice but in the sharing of personal experience in areas that receive little focus from standard project management methodologies and practices. This makes it a valuable read both to beginners and experienced professionals.
Verdict – A Good Buy!
If you are looking for a book that's different than your standard project management literature, then this book is worth buying. It doesn't focus on templates and techniques but on what you should be doing as a project manager. The Project Management Book shares lots experiences that will be valuable to readers as well as tips for how to deal with special situations that are not covered by standard literature.
If you want to purchase The Project Management Book, you can find it on Amazon US (for North American readers) or Amazon UK (for European readers). If you purchase it using these links, we will also receive a small commission from your purchase. Thanks a lot for making any purchase using these links.