Projects can be overwhelming, but taken in small, deliberate steps, all projects are achievable.
If you've ever had to create, manage, and complete a project, and you felt the need for some hand-holding, this primer from Colleen Garton and Erika McCulloch is invaluable. It's a well-organized, step-by-step introduction into the mechanics of actually getting a complex project completed and out the door.
Projects can be overwhelming, often too big to handle, but taken in small steps, all projects are achievable. Garton recognizes this and starts by defining the principles of project management. She then describes its structure, the role of a manager, and the skills needed to be successful.
Her description of the lifecycle of a project is especially useful, listing the different phases—from planning to launch—and then later goes into deep detail about what each phase involves. She writes of the importance of maintaining and monitoring the quality and waypoints of the project.
Luckily the jargon is minimal, and the down-to-earth, practical advice can help you reduce the stress of managing something that might seem at first quite unmanageable. For instance, a novice could take this book and follow the procedures outlined to create and produce a bare-boned project. Luckily, there is enough information here as well for the professional project manager.
There are chapters on how to recognize when things aren't going well, how to create a team and allocate resources, and how to make sure your team is working well together. Communication is the key to this, and she explains how to inspire and reward those helping you accomplish the task. Recognizing the skills and weaknesses of your team is essential to completion. And the final goal is to effectively get the project in the hands of those in operations who will implement the project.
This book recognizes that all managers have different skill sets as well, and it describes different leadership and communication styles: analytical, amiable, expressive, and driven. Managers may have more than one attribute from these styles as well.
Garton also describes two major process frameworks that arise from the best management practices, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide and the Projects In Controlled Environments 2 (PRINCE2) guide. The PMBOK Guide is a guide to project management, not a method or set of skills. It defines the guidelines and expectations that must be set for successful projects. The PRINCE2 describes the best processes for completion, which coincide with industry standards.
There's a great list within the Top 10 Reasons Projects Fail section at the end of the book, and any manager will probably recognize more than a few of these. Finally, there's a case study that can be used as a template for your project, from the description of resources, to the issue addressed, to background, to the challenges and solutions. This is a practical application of Garton's methods, invaluable for anyone who has a lot to do but isn't sure where to start.