We must admit that our first reaction to the title The Project Management Question and Answer Book by a couple of "PMPs" was dubious. We thought: Here's another book by authors cashing in on the Project Management Institute's ("PMI") Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge ("PMBOK Guide"). And likely this book will soon be out of date, given the imminent arrival of the 2004 Guide update. But, as we cracked the covers, we were delighted to discover that we were quite wrong.
The authors, Michael Newell and Marina Grashina, have not slavishly followed the PMBOK Guide, although they have adopted most of the PMBOK knowledge areas as chapter headings. At the same time they have introduced additional or alternative headings, in a way that makes eminent good sense, as we shall see under Book Structure. Further, they have not laboriously followed the PMBOK Guide contents either. Rather, they have taken each topic area and dealt with it in a simple, straightforward way that is easy to understand and highly relevant to anyone in the practical business of managing projects.
For example, as the authors explain in their introduction:
"One of the reasons for the popularity of project management is the great flexibility of projects. Projects and project management can be applied to any size projects, in any industry, for any product or service. This is because the methodology for managing projects is flexible and adaptable to nearly anything we might want to do. All projects will have some kind of initiating phase, planning phase, execution phase, and closeout phase."
There is a lot of meat in these observations. Not so long ago, measured in a few decades, "projects" were only things that involved capital infrastructure such as buildings or engineering works. And then only when some large sum of money had been committed under a voluminous form of legal execution contract. Clearly, the likes of this were not applicable to "any size projects, in any industry, for any product or service" because of the justifiable perception of the excessive legal bureaucracy entailed. Further, the project's life span was not reduced to its basic simplicity of the four phases the authors identify. That is because such large infrastructure projects did not identify with their "true" beginning, i.e. conceptualization, and their execution had more stages to satisfy the legal requirements.
The backgrounds of both authors are generally from the manufacturing, business or electronics sectors, before taking up project management consulting full time. Michael is Vice President of Operations for PSM Consulting currently out of Clermont, Florida, and Marina is manager of their Moscow office. It is not surprising, therefore, that this book will appeal particularly to people in the manufacturing, business and electronics sectors.
This book really is a practitioner's guide rather then a certification-exam cramming tool. Yet those taking PMI's certification exam will benefit from it because the content is so understandable and covers almost all the required territory.
1. Newel, M. W., & M. N. Grashina, The Project Management Question and Answer Book, AMACOM, NY, 2003, p2