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Managing Projects in the Real World: The Tips and Tricks No One Tells You About When You Start

Book Description

Managing Projects in the Real World provides clear and actionable advice to project managers for recognizing, anticipating, and overcoming challenges associated with the human component of leading others. The mechanics of project management are rational and straightforward to learn. The art of project management is irrational and complex to learn.

Project managers need to develop a repertoire of soft skills that are typically hard for them, since they rose through the ranks to that position by virtue of superior reasoning skills. But if a project manager cannot adjudicate the clash of personalities, finesse the friction between assigned and preferred roles, steer clear of hidden hazards, and diplomatically resolve overlapping assertions of competing authority—that project manager is in a world of trouble.

From the human perils of project management, nobody is better qualified to rescue beleaguered project managers than Melanie McBride—veteran PM and author of the Intel blog, The Accidental Profession. She sheds light on those dark, dusty places that fall between the cracks of theory and best practice out in the real world where irate colleagues, unrealistic product launch dates, and virtual meetings reign supreme and run amok. In this book you'll find targeted discussions and specific techniques to empower you to meet the challenges that project managers face every day. The book is structured into project phases to help any project manager on any kind of project jump right to the tried and true solution for the challenge at hand.

What you'll learn

After reading Managing Projects in the Real World: The Tips and Tricks No One Tells You About When You Start, project managers will know:

  • How to execute basic project management tasks such as building dynamic schedules, developing risk management plans, holding others accountable, and conducting effective meetings.

  • How to navigate the tricky bits, such as unrealistic due dates and virtual meetings with multitasking attendees.

  • How to communicate effectively with project stakeholders and manage their expectations and different communication styles.

  • How to deal with stakeholders with classically difficult personas, such as bullies, micromanagers, visionaries, and prisoners.

  • How to continually improve in your PM craft and decision-making abilities.

Who this book is for

  • Primary: project, program, and product managers

  • Secondary: any team leader or director

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Apress Business: The Unbiased Source of Business Information
  3. Dedication
  4. Contents
  5. About the Author
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Preface
  8. PART I: Initiating Phase
    1. CHAPTER 1: How to Figure Out What’s Really Going On
      1. Inserting Yourself into the Backchannel
      2. Figuring Out Who Your Stakeholders Are
      3. Requirements? On the Rocks or Frozen?
    2. CHAPTER 2: Effective Meetings in the Real World
      1. The 30-Minute Meeting
      2. Meeting Facilitation: How It’s Really Done
      3. Don’t Let Your Boss Come to the Meeting
      4. Taking Minutes in the Real World
      5. Improving Your Virtual Meetings
      6. The Project Kickoff Meeting
    3. CHAPTER 3: Team Building
      1. Team Dynamics
      2. Motivating a Team
      3. The Truth Shall Set Your Team Free
      4. Laugh It Up to Improve Your Team Dynamic
    4. CHAPTER 4: The “Special” Ones
      1. High-Priority Projects
      2. Low-Priority Projects
      3. Chaotic Programs
  9. PART II: Planning Phase
    1. CHAPTER 5: You Have to Do the Work
      1. Project Plans Are NOT Created in MS Project
      2. Bad Ideas
      3. The Craftsmanship of Planning
      4. Old School Planning
      5. What’s in a Name?
      6. Scoping Projects
    2. CHAPTER 6: How to Develop a Robust Schedule
      1. The Problem Isn’t MS Project…It’s You!
      2. Breaking Down the Work Breakdown Structure
      3. Networking … and Not the Fun Kind
      4. Estimation: It’s Trickier Than You Thought
      5. The Easy Way
      6. Optimizing the Schedule
      7. The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Baseline
      8. The Dark Art of Leveling Resources
      9. Buffer? What Buffer? Surely You Jest!
    3. CHAPTER 7: How to Say No to Unrealistic Target Dates
      1. Triple Constraint Junkie
      2. Hard Dates = Negotiable Targets
      3. Saying Yes to Say No
      4. Just Because They Ask…
      5. The Nastiest Word in Change Control
    4. CHAPTER 8: A Special Case: Planning for the Holiday Season
      1. The Dead Zone
      2. I Call BS!
  10. PART III: Execution Phase
    1. CHAPTER 9: Leadership Showtime
      1. More Action, Less Talkin’
      2. Dollar Waitin’ on a Dime
      3. How to Escalate Effectively
      4. How to Get Folks to Do Their Jobs
      5. Evaluating Your Teammates’ Performance
      6. The PM as a Coach
      7. Cut Off Your Right Hand
    2. CHAPTER 10: Decision Making
      1. First Step? Make the Decision
      2. Now Get Better at It
      3. What to Do When You Can’t Make a Decision
      4. Decision-Making Tools
      5. How to Select the Best Option
      6. Prioritize This!
    3. CHAPTER 11: Presenting Project Updates
      1. Stop Sharing Too Much Information
      2. How to Build a Presentation
      3. The Big Bad Presentation
      4. Stop Wasting Your Crisis
      5. Giving a Talk
      6. And Now for Something Insane
      7. Standin’ on My Soapbox: PowerPoint
    4. CHAPTER 12: Stakeholder Management in the Real World
      1. Have a Plan
      2. Networking for Fun and Profit
      3. Own the Communication
      4. Apply Some Psychology
      5. The Tricky Bits
      6. Managing Up
    5. CHAPTER 13: Communicating with Difficult People
      1. It’s Them, Not Me
      2. Pass the Brie…Or How to Deal with Whiners
      3. Crap! It Really Is Me, Not Them
  11. PART IV: Closure Phase
    1. CHAPTER 14: Is Your Team Ready to Release?
      1. Stop Being So Annoying
      2. Due Diligence
      3. Release Readiness
      4. The Go/No-Go
      5. Deliver It Late
      6. On Time, Under Budget, Delivered as Promised…and Still a Failure?
    2. CHAPTER 15: Leading When the Music Stops
      1. Yet Another Re-Org
      2. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
      3. How to Lead after the Music Stops
    3. CHAPTER 16: You Really Ought to Be Doing This
      1. Formal Project Closure
      2. How to Throw a Party
      3. Feed ’em Well
      4. Recognition 101
  12. PART V: So You Wanna Be a Project Manager
    1. CHAPTER 17: Is Project Management Right for You?
      1. The Difference between a Project Manager and a Program Manager
      2. Stuff No One Tells You Before You Begin
      3. The Mirage of Positional Authority
      4. How Technical Do You Need to Be?
    2. CHAPTER 18: Are You a Professional?
      1. What It Means to Be a Professional Project Manager
      2. Project Management Professional
    3. CHAPTER 19: Getting Better at It
      1. What’s in Your Toolbox?
      2. Tips and Tricks for Managing Multiple Projects
      3. Improve Your Business Acumen
      4. Volunteer to Sharpen the Saw
      5. How to Turn Your Ideas into Reality
      6. It’s a Universal Skill
      7. Maximizing Your ROI at Conferences
  13. Index