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The Project Manager: Mastering the art of delivery

Book Description

Learn how to be the safe pair of hands in your organisation, consistently delivering exceptional projects on time and to budget. 

The steep rise in demand for good project managers in recent years has been mirrored by the publication of book after book setting out the formal processes and mechanics of project management.  Whether they are textbooks or books aimed at the practitioner, they all usually cover the same ground - the ABCs of project management, you might call it.

But anyone who has ever managed a project or overseen the management of a project in the real world knows that there is a significant difference between mastering the ABCs and mastering the practice of project management itself.

It's not that the formal methodologies don't work, but rather that it's only half of the picture.  To go from good to great in project management, you need to shift your focus back to the real basics of management.

In this illuminating book, Richard Newton, a successful project manager with twenty years' experience, will show you several ways you can elevate your game.

Topics covered include:

  • What is successful delivery?

  • Communications – learning to understand who the customers are, what they want, and how best to communicate with them

  • What actually is your project?  Understanding the importance of scope and how best to define it

  • How to get your project started

  • Optimal personal styles for project managers

  • Managing your project

  • Getting the best out of your project team

  • A quick survey of the most important tools and techniques

  • When to constructively kill a project

Whether you are just starting out in project management, or have a few years under your belt and want to achieve real mastery, The Project Manager will deliver. 

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. FT Press Financial Times
  3. Preface
  4. Introduction
    1. The secret art
    2. Why read this book?
    3. A brief word on job titles
    4. Work-streams, projects, programmes and portfolios
    5. A short overview of the contents
  5. 1. Some basics
    1. What is a project? What is project management?
    2. What is a project manager?
    3. Who are projects for?
    4. What is success?
      1. Personal success as a project manager
      2. Project success
  6. 2. Listening and talking
    1. The most important chapter in the book
    2. Your audience – who you must listen and talk to
      1. The project team
      2. Customers
      3. Stakeholders
    3. Listening – learning to understand what the customer wants
      1. Listening lesson 1 – Make assumptions explicit
      2. Listening lesson 2 – Understand the scope
      3. Listening lesson 3 – Understand customer requirements and how they convert into a project
      4. Listening lesson 4 – Keep checking
      5. Listening lesson 5 – Customer needs go beyond requirements specification
      6. Listening lesson 6 – Remember it’s not your project
    4. Communicating with your audience
      1. Lessons 1–4: Your planning and approach to communications
        1. Communication lesson 1 – Plan your schedule of communications
        2. Communication lesson 2 – Accept regular reporting as part of the job
        3. Communication lesson 3 – Use formal presentations as appropriate
        4. Communication lesson 4 – Use informal communications spontaneously and continuously
      2. Lessons 5–11: The style and method of communications
        1. Communication lesson 5 – Use your audience’s specialist language where appropriate
        2. Communication lesson 6 – Avoid too much project management jargon
        3. Communication lesson 7 – Clarify what you mean by risks
        4. Communication lesson 8 – Present complex information in a clear way
        5. Communication lesson 9 – Tailor communications to the audience
        6. Communication lesson 10 – Effectively communicate with senior audiences
        7. Communication lesson 11 – Do not rely on e-mails
        8. Communication lesson 12 – Be specific
        9. Communication lesson 13 – Present key factual information in whole messages at discrete time intervals
      3. Lessons 14–17: Rules to underpin all communications
        1. Communication lesson 14 – Tell the truth
        2. Communication lesson 15 – Maintain only one version of the truth
        3. Communication lesson 16 – Obsessively manage expectations
        4. Communications lesson 17 – Communicate to deliver (don’t deliver to communicate)
  7. 3. What actually is your project?
    1. The importance of understanding scope
    2. The key scoping questions
      1. Scoping question 1 – What is the overall objective of the project?
      2. Scoping question 2 – What are the deliverables?
      3. Subsidiary question 2a – Are there deliverables required by the project which it is explicitly not responsible for?
      4. Subsidiary question 2b – Are you working to deliver a finite set of deliverables or provide some business capability?
      5. Subsidiary question 2c – Are you working to deliver a set of independent deliverables or an integrated end-to-end solution?
      6. Subsidiary question 2d – How will the quality of deliverables be determined?
      7. Scoping question 3 – Are you working to implement a specific solution, or to solve a problem?
      8. Subsidiary question 3a – Are you responsible for the delivery of deliverables or for achieving the business benefits?
      9. Scoping question 4 – How is the customer going to measure success at the end of the project?
      10. Scoping question 5 – What, from the customer’s viewpoint, can flex?
      11. Subsidiary question 5a – Do you want predictability or speed?
      12. Scoping question 6 – Are there any other constraints on the project?
      13. Subsidiary question 6a – Are there any currently known issues, risks or opportunities?
      14. Subsidiary question 6b – Are there any external considerations?
      15. Scoping question 7 – How does your customer want to work with you?
      16. Subsidiary Question 7a – How will decisions be made on the project?
      17. Subsidiary question 7b – Can your sponsor allocate all the resources the project requires or do other stakeholders need to be involved?
      18. Subsidiary question 7c – How high is the project in your customer’s overall priorities?
      19. Subsidiary question 7d – Who can legitimately put requirements upon the project?
      20. Scoping question 8 – Are there any implicit requirements, assumptions or needs that the customer has that are not defined in the scope or requirements documents?
  8. 4. Some key traits
    1. The sense of ownership and involvement
    2. Good judgement – project management style
      1. Judgement 1 – What is in scope?
      2. Judgement 2 – What should be in the plan?
      3. Judgement 3 – Which elements of project management process to apply and which to ignore
      4. Judgement 4 – When to escalate
      5. Judgement 5 – When to get into the detail and when to skim
      6. Judgement 6 – When to do and when to delegate
      7. Judgement 7 – Who can you trust in your project team?
      8. Judgement 8 – What is an acceptable level of risk?
      9. Judgement 9 – What is an acceptable level of parallel activity?
      10. Judgement 10 – What is an acceptable level of change?
      11. Judgement 11 – When should you enforce the change management process?
      12. Judgement 12 – When is it reasonable to progress based on an assumption?
      13. Judgement 13 – How many levels of project management organisation do you need?
      14. Judgement 14 – When to consider broader stakeholder groups
      15. Judgement 15 – When is the project complete?
    3. Project management judgements – summary
    4. A touch of creativity
  9. 5. Getting your project started
    1. Planning
    2. Resourcing
    3. Budgeting
    4. Thinking about contingency and risk
    5. Mobilising
    6. Projects in the real world – common practical issues to overcome
  10. 6. Personal styles
    1. Styles to avoid
      1. Stereotype 1 – Bully boys
      2. Stereotype 2 – Process nuts, compulsive planners and detail obsessives
      3. Stereotype 3 – The Teflon man
      4. Stereotype 4 – The panicking manager
    2. Styles to encourage
      1. Attribute 1 – Having empathy with your customer
      2. Attribute 2 – Displaying both management and leadership skills
      3. Attribute 3 – The ability to handle stress
      4. Attribute 4 – Respect for people
      5. Attribute 5 – Dynamism and positivism
      6. Attribute 6 – Networking skills
      7. Attribute 7 – Political sensitivity
      8. Attribute 8 – Having sufficient presence
      9. Attribute 9 – A sense of humour
      10. Attribute 10 – Being sensitive to your environment
      11. Attribute 11 – Adapting your style to the situation
  11. 7. Managing your project
    1. What should you manage?
    2. How do you know to take management action?
    3. How should you manage?
    4. Change control and management
    5. Decision making
  12. 8. The team
    1. Getting the best from the project team
      1. Tasks 1–4: Getting the basics right – right people, right skills, right tasks
        1. Management task 1 – Getting the right capabilities and skills
        2. Management task 2 – Go for quality rather than quantity
        3. Management task 3 – Assign clear roles and defined objectives
        4. Management task 4 – Know when to throw people off the team
      2. Tasks 5–9: Motivating and building the team
        1. Management task 5 – The line management challenge – aligning objectives and motivation
        2. Management task 6 – Building the team
        3. Management task 7 – Ensure there is personal development for team members
        4. Management task 8 – Ensuring people have a home to go back to
        5. Management task 9 – Be aware of team dynamics and team politics
      3. Tasks 10–14: Project team management challenges
        1. Management task 10 – Physical proximity and communications channels
        2. Management task 11 – Managing geographically diverse and isolated staff
        3. Management task 12 – Managing part-time resources
        4. Management task 13 – Managing upwards
        5. Management task 14 – Managing non-dedicated specialists
      4. Tasks 15–16: The broader context
        1. Management task 15 – Working with the wider organisation
        2. Management task 16 – Disbanding the project team
  13. 9. The limits of knowledge
    1. The generalist vs the specialist
    2. What should project managers not do?
    3. Specialist skills that should be recognised as not being the project manager’s job
      1. Culprit 1 – Business analysis and requirements capture
      2. Culprit 2 – Change management
      3. Culprit 3 – Systems integration and testing
      4. Culprit 4 – Supplier negotiations
      5. Culprit 5 – Contract and legal issues
      6. Culprit 6 – Project office
      7. Culprit 7 – Communications
    4. Summary
  14. 10. The mechanics of project management
    1. The project manager’s toolkit
      1. Skills 1–7: The core project management mechanics
        1. Skill 1 – Management of assumptions
        2. Skill 2 – Sign off
        3. Skill 3 – Management of external dependencies
        4. Skill 4 – The time–cost–quality–scope trade-off
        5. Skill 5 – Basic risk and issue management
        6. Skill 6 – Contingency planning and triggers
        7. Skill 7 – Using escalation effectively
      2. Skills 8–13: Supporting mechanics
        1. Skill 8 – Benefits realisation
        2. Skill 9 – Stakeholder analysis
        3. Skill 10 – Use of project office
        4. Skill 11 – Administration and management of meetings
        5. Skill 12 – Prioritisation
        6. Skill 13 – Use of project lifecycles
    2. What more can you learn?
  15. 11. Knowing when to say ‘no’
    1. When do you actually need a project manager?
    2. Knowing the danger signals
    3. Constructively killing projects off
    4. Just say ‘no’
  16. 12. Closing thoughts
    1. Quick reference guide – summary contents
    2. Chapter 1 – Some basics
    3. Chapter 2 – Listening and talking
      1. Lessons 1–4: Your planning and approach to communications
      2. Lessons 5–13: The style and method of communications
      3. Lessons 14–17: Rules to underpin all communications
    4. Chapter 3 – What actually is your project?
    5. Chapter 4 – Some key traits
    6. Chapter 5 – Getting your project started
    7. Chapter 6 – Personal styles
    8. Chapter 7 – Managing your project
      1. Change control and management
      2. Decision making
    9. Chapter 8 – The team
      1. Getting the basics right – right people, right skills, right tasks (management tasks 1–4)
      2. Motivating and building the team (management tasks 5–9)
      3. Project team management challenges (management tasks 10–14)
      4. The broader context (management tasks 15–16)
    10. Chapter 9 – The limits of knowledge
    11. Chapter 10 – The mechanics of project management
      1. Skills 1–7: The core project management mechanics
      2. Skills 8–13: Supporting mechanics
    12. Chapter 11 – Knowing when to say ‘no’