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The Principles of Project Management 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
zedguy writes "Ask someone what 'project management' is and you're liable to get a few blank stares — it's one of those fields people have heard of, but probably have problems pinning down a definition. So that is what the first section of the book does: provides a definition that can be summed up as applying tools and skills to complete a project. That then leads to what exactly is a "project": a set of tasks with a time-frame and goal of somehow adding value. So yes, the introduction does involve a fair bit of terminology that isn't going to be familiar to many readers coming from a coder's background, but there's a helpful appendix that lays out many of the terms. Just as important, the introduction explains what project management is not, some of the misconceptions and why it's good to know." Keep reading for the rest of Zoltan's review.
The Principles of Project Management
author Meri Williams
pages 204
publisher SitePoint / O'Reilly
rating 8
reviewer Zoltan Hunt
ISBN 0-9802858-6-0
summary A practical introduction to project management
With the definitions out of the way, readers then get into the start-up tasks. First, there's looking for projects (find opportunities), deciding is it's a good opportunity (this is a bit of office politics — you want to know soon if the your project has the necessary support from management) and even if the task warrants a project — one of the key points is that a project is not on-going maintenance — it has a goal and a completion date.

Once you have decided to undertake a project, the next steps involve a proposal, identifying stakeholders, setting up an organizational chart and establishing communication protocols. This is the soft skill side of project management — a lot of the work is keeping the people the project is for interested and informed on where the project is heading. Much of the advice is practical — including dealing with the stakeholders who just aren't that interested in your project and picking a good project board — the less the better. Finally, once this is established it's time to make sure everyone is on the same page and agreed on the deliverables (the specific things the project will achieve).

By chapter three ("Getting the Job Done") we're into the actual material many readers (including myself) think of as project management — setting schedules, breaking deliverables into discrete tasks. For that, there's a lot of practical advice here — especially around making estimates and communicating them to stakeholders and team-members so they are not mis-interpreted as wild guesses or hard dates. Particularly good was the advice on refining estimates from a general size (is it a small, large or extra-large task), then, as the date got closer, change it to a more accurate estimate. As well as measuring performance, some management tools like work-flow and Gantt charts and issue lists are introduced in this chapter.

The last two chapters look at managing your team and completing the project. The "Keeping it smooth" chapter gives a good overview of the people management skills you will need working with team members. There's a fair bit of overage of team building (forming, storming, performing and adjourning) and a bit of coverage of collaboration over distances. Having done some small group management in the past, I think it covers all the bases well and it's applicable outside of project management as well.

Like many of the new SitePoint books this book explains a complex topic with a few illustrations and a clean layout. They're using that humorous information schema (light-bulb, bicycle horn, hand grenade) to good effect. One example of this is in Getting Started chapter: There is a section talking about what goes in a Project Initiation Document (PID), and there are break-out boxes on what it is not meant to take the place of.

For an example of the layout, the "Keeping it Smooth" chapter is a good example of how this book is organized; Topics are broken up by headings with points arranged as lists of short paragraphs, which makes it easy to skim. While it's a small book — 200 pages, about 25x20 cm — it's still good to be able to skim.

The glossary covers the particular usage of words in the project management domain.

Appendixes A-C list some tools,other resources (books and blogs) and C provides a list of qualifications and associations.

For a topic I was quite unfamiliar with when I started, I'd recommend this book as a good overview to the topic. The chapters follow a chronological order through a project — from picking a project — including those to avoid — planning and executing, managing the staff and stakeholders and finally, finishing your project and handing it off.

The author, Meri Williams, writes two blogs: GeekManager and Meriblog which readers might want to check out for further material. While each field has it's jargon, project management has a number to learn — and this book does a good job explain it.

You can purchase The Principles of Project Management from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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The Principles of Project Management

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  • Also on this topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by edwebdev (1304531) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:29PM (#23906863)
    See also: The Mythical Man-Month [wikipedia.org] by Fred Brooks.
  • Is this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:32PM (#23906897)

    like the Cliffs Notes for the PMBOK [wikipedia.org]?

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Cliffs Notes are for literary works that people can't be bothered to actually read. They don't have them for technical documents like the PMBOK. The technical equivalent is known as a "textbook".

      • by j-pimp (177072)

        Cliffs Notes are for literary works that people can't be bothered to actually read. They don't have them for technical documents like the PMBOK. The technical equivalent is known as a "textbook".

        Theres some value to Cliff's Notes. I resorted to them once as a substitute for finishing Moby Dick. I was in 6th grade and chose to read the book on my own. I made it about 3/4ths through and give up the Saturday before the monday the book report was due. I also owned up to using them to my teacher. I think I was to young to appreciate all the symbolism that was in 3 chapters about pumping water out of the bottom of the ship.

        If I saw Cliff's notes for the Similaron I'd pick up a copy, that's almost a

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      like the Cliffs Notes for the PMBOK [wikipedia.org]?

      The bad news is: the PMBOK IS the Cliff Notes version of project management.
  • by omeomi (675045) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:33PM (#23906931) Homepage
    That then leads to what exactly is a "project": a set of tasks with a time-frame and goal of somehow adding value.

    Thank god we've gotten that out of the way. I guess now that we've adequately defined work, I can go get some work done. See ya'll at the next meeting.
  • by mediocubano (801656) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:34PM (#23906945)
    It seems to make more sense to me when I think of project managers as time accountants. They have time budgets and scopes and reports and things that relate along the lines of a financial manager running a business.

    Only Project Managers have completely different names for those things, but the better ones do a lot of time reporting and time budgeting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vvaduva (859950)
      Focusing on time alone can lead you in the wrong direction. PMI offers some free information on their website on Project Management (pmi.org) that can help you get some hand on PM from a general overview perspective. It's about managing all resources, not just time or money and ultimately PM is about efficiency. Time is just one piece of the puzzle. One project can be closed ahead of schedule and be crap at the same time.
    • by metlin (258108) on Monday June 23, 2008 @02:31PM (#23907891) Journal

      Not really.

      I'd say that Project Management involves juggling three things - Schedule, Scope and Budget (think of it as a triangle).

      Usually, any change in project direction, requirements, resources or funding affects one of the 3, and you need to juggle between the 3 to find an optimal state.

      • by teg (97890)

        I'd say that Project Management involves juggling three things - Schedule, Scope and Budget (think of it as a triangle).

        It is common to include a fourth factor, quality - thus making it a pyramid [ibm.com].

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          I'd say that Project Management involves juggling three things - Schedule, Scope and Budget (think of it as a triangle).

          It is common to include a fourth factor, quality - thus making it a pyramid [ibm.com].

          Actually, you also have to factor in blame so it really becomes a time cube [wikipedia.org] (original seems to be offline).

        • by metlin (258108)

          Quality, for all intents and purposes, falls under scope.

          Increased quality implies increased diligence, increased QA and consequently, more to do.

          This would need more money, more time etc.

    • It seems to make more sense to me when I think of project managers as time accountants.

      Time accounting for a project is data collection, that's it. Technically, all accounting is just data collection.

      It's the analysis and resultant actions that set apart good financial managers (and project managers) from the dreck.

      In my experience, time accounting by PMs is used primarily for budgeting and budget allocation -- more as reporting to their superiors than anything else. I have had the pleasure of working u

      • Time accounting for a project is data collection, that's it. Technically, all accounting is just data collection.

        That's not been my experience. As a former PM for a construction management firm, specializing in IT buildouts, I found that dealing with time frames were more about site-adjustment to new and unexpected things.

        For example, the contractors labor who is putting in all the ethernet drops all decide at once to take off without telling their boss to Mexico to be with their families for some reason.

        • I see where you're coming from... but time accounting is what I was referring to... which doesn't have much to do with putting out fires :)
    • Though project fiscal performance is important I think the most important aspect of a 'qualified' project managers job is knowing what to do when things do not go as planned. I think the best example of a project manager would be

      General Leslie Groves
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Groves [wikipedia.org]

      who's responsibility it was to keep everyone on task and on schedule. By taking on planning and logistics he allowed the scientists to focus on what they do best.

      Which is the mark of a good project manager. The ability t

    • In my experience the major tasks involved with "time accounting" can and maybe should be delegated.

      Counting beans (time or money) isn't that hard. It's the people skills or lack thereof that seem to make or break most projects. Thus "Wheel Greaser" is the way I've come to think of the good project managers I've worked with. "Keeping It Smooth" shouldn't be a chapter. It's a fundamental aspect of every part of a well run project. Projects are just that, projects, it's the people that need management, t
  • Actually... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paranatural (661514) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:35PM (#23906977)

    I'm pretty certain that many people with a 'coder's background' will be all too familiar with some of that terminology, after they've been in the workforce a year or two.

  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:35PM (#23906985) Homepage Journal
    I had just started on this huge C++ app, that was to take a year and lots of my client's money to develop, and figured that being my own project manager would be helpful. The client also wanted a time and cost estimate.

    Worst investment I ever made. My memory is hazy, but I seem to recall it set me back five hundred bucks.

    So with the manual open, I created a new project, and then the manual said "Enter your tasks".

    Well, Hell, if I knew what my tasks were, I wouldn't need a project management tool. I gave up on it completely.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:42PM (#23907093) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, I had the same problem with Microsoft Word. I bought it to write a novel. But it turns out you have to supply your own words!

      That title is very misleading.

      • What, Clippy wasn't helpful? "It looks like you are trying to write a novel! ... "
        • by fm6 (162816)

          Clippy was useless. He wanted to know the "genre" of my novel. How can they call their software "user friendly" if you have to learn technical jargon that?

      • by mh1997 (1065630)

        Yeah, I had the same problem with Microsoft Word. I bought it to write a novel. But it turns out you have to supply your own words!
        Your problem wasn't the application, it was your purchasing the wrong application. If you wanted to write a novel, you should have bought "Words".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Amarok.Org (514102)

      You missed the point of the tool.

      The point of the tool is to allow you build your list, assign resources, time estimates, dependencies, track deadlines, etc.

      Start simple:

      Task 1: Write outline of application goals (X days)

      Task 2: Create block diagram of expected modules and functions (X days)

      Task 3: Code skeleton structure (X days)

      Task 4: Write code for modules (X months)

      No, I'm not a developer - and it's just an example. Once you have that in place, you start doing real work. And you realize, "Hey, I'm g

      • Woooosh.

        It's also the sound my toilet makes when I flush.
    • by glgraca (105308) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:45PM (#23907143)

      MS Project paves the way to waterfall projects, mainly because most managers don't understand iterative development.

      • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:52PM (#23907243)

        MS Project paves the way to waterfall projects, mainly because most managers don't understand iterative development.

        I'd say the problem is more general: most business people don't understand iterative development. They want hard deadlines and schedules and guarantees, even though software development doesn't really work that way.

        Essentially, they stick their heads in the sand and want software development to be just like manufacturing.

        Give most businesses a choice between a waterfall development PM and an iterative development PM, and they're going to pick the waterfall guy because he's willing to give them a (probably very inaccurate) deadline of when the whole giant project will be done.

        • >>>MS Project paves the way to waterfall projects, mainly because most managers don't understand iterative development.

          I'd say the problem is more general: most business people don't understand iterative development. They want hard de

          I second that!!!

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          I don't know why iterative development excludes deadlines. Deadlines are important for businesses. If they can't meet a deadline for a product to be released, people eventually ignore you and buy the competition's product. Even if it sucks. I realize that sometimes it is better to let a deadline slip than to ship a crappy product (in fact I advocate it as my sig implies, and most PMs forget), but you should at least try to be close. Now I can't wait for my copy of Duke Nukem Forever to arrive.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by glgraca (105308)

            Iterative development does not exclude deadlines. The main ideia is that you have to constantly review your plans, adjust to new information, and incrementally build your understanding of the product as well as the product per se. Of course some managers prefer to just lay the plan down and shout at you until you make it happen: it is easier for them not to have to think and replan all the way. I like to emphasize the point that your understanding of the problem at hand evolves along with the project. Build

            • BDUF [wikipedia.org] doesn't work - with one exception: if you are building something that is both simple and unchanging.

              Once complexity rises and/or what you are building has to deal with changing circumstances, then waterfall breaks down. This is most applications by the way.

              One of the key reasons software development projects fail is due to the selection of the wrong lifecycle model.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I don't know why iterative development excludes deadlines.

            It doesn't. Depending on your implementation, of course.

            Some approaches to iterative development have features but no deadline. The project is done when all the features are done, and no sooner. Tools give you projections on when that will be.

            Other approaches to iterative development have deadlines but no features. Or rather, no guarantees of what features will be available by that deadline. This is sometimes called "time-boxed development." Yo

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Actually, they want software development to be like engineering. And it's not. Software development is still in its early stages. It's a craft. It's moving towards being engineering, but it's not there yet. About 1.5-2 engineering generations away. still.

          The difference between a craft and engineering? The processes and tools. Ask two engineers to design a bridge or plane. They will use very similar tools, almost guaranteed they'll use the methods and math. They will produce almost exactly the same

          • No, I'm sorry, but it has nothing to do with the "maturity" of software engineering, it just a different process. You will never reach the predictability in software development that you can get from engineering aircraft and bridges.

            Mostly, that's because businesses want the automation they rely on to be flexible. Businesses processes change a lot, in order to allow a business to compete and improve productivity. They may be using the same trucks to deliver their products, but where they once took all

        • ...want software development to be just like manufacturing.

          Just manufacturing is moving to be like software development with continuous improvement [wikipedia.org] programmes.

        • by syousef (465911)

          MS Project paves the way to waterfall projects, mainly because most managers don't understand iterative development.
          I'd say the problem is more general: most business people don't understand iterative development. They want hard deadlines and schedules and guarantees, even though software development doesn't really work that way.

          Two ways to overcome that.
          1) Put each iterative process in as a task on the project plan and make sure you allow for iterations.
          2) Put each iteration into the project plan up front.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by poot_rootbeer (188613)

        No; managers who do not understand iterative development pave the way to waterfall projects. Sometimes those managers use MS Project.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by glgraca (105308)

          If your knowledge is incipient and your tool provides an inadequate abstraction, you will veer towards bad habits. If you're good at OO, you can do it even in Perl. But if you're not, you will probably get some nasty habits.

      • by putaro (235078)

        MS Project is designed for planning projects like building a house or installing equipment in a data center. Look at the examples in the manual. Those kind of projects work really well in a waterfall model since most of the tasks are predictable. I don't think they're really selling it to manage software projects - the market for project planning for building houses and such is much larger.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Well, Hell, if I knew what my tasks were, I wouldn't need a project management tool. I gave up on it completely.

      Yeah. One time I bought QuickBooks, and it wanted me to create a bunch of accounts and set up transactions and everything. Hell, if I knew anything about accounting, I wouldn't need accounting software.

      Tools are sometimes designed to be used by professionals, as a means of them doing their job; not as a substitute for professionals with a 95% accurate wizard.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      I am not sure if that was ment to be funny or stupid.
      The point of the tasks is for you break down all the taks and phases the project will take. Microsoft Project doesn't make the project for you or estimate the time, it keeps your project organized so you can see where it is at at the time. The advantage is that the concepts are out of your mind and into the computer, where others can read and share... So when they ask you for for a new feature you look at the project plan and it wasn't there you can say w

    • by dedazo (737510)

      You kid, but I've known "project managers" who have been hired solely on their ability to move little bars around in MS Project.

      Like "developers" who are hired (or used to be hired) based on their acumen with HTML, these are the people who give the profession a bad rap.

      • Agreed, because it's very easy to throw around project managment buzzwords and terms, but at the end of the day project management is real work requiring real skills.

        Many people have low opinions of PMs, but once you work with a skilled one the difference is obvious.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)

      far simpler, far cheaper, and far more true: Buy Scott Adams Dilbert DVD. This publication will lead you through a project and describe most of the pointy haired problems you will encounter along the way...right to the final release of a less then marketable product designed by committee.
        Old but timeless.
        Would that a sequel were published...

    • Well, Hell, if I knew what my tasks were, I wouldn't need a project management tool. I gave up on it completely.
      You are a developer building a large/complex C++ application - yet keeping a bit of information about the project is too complicated?

      Also, I find your binary thought process (all or nothing) incompatible with the real world (evolutionary).

      For shame!

  • Well thus my job title (Project Manager, Architecture). Now I know typically most /. topics are technology based, however I think there are similarities.

    In my experience a Project Manager is someone with enough experience, resources to oversea the successful completion of a given project. Quick note green MBA's need not apply.

    I think having a clear understanding of the product, the process, and the expectations is essential. In addition the ability to make assertive critical decisions based on experience.
    M

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by teknopurge (199509)

      "Project manager" and "Architect" are mutually exclusive. You can't be an expert in both, let alone have the time for both.

      Regards,

      • by maxume (22995)

        Can you make that judgment without being an expert in both?

        • Yes. As a Solution Architect that is responsible for the success of my projects I can.

          Regards,

          • by maxume (22995)

            So by induction, you are not an expert in project management. How do you know that the project managers you have worked with have not been a long string of bad luck leading you to believe that they work very hard to get the things they do done even though they (possibly!) do next to nothing?

          • by cowscows (103644)

            What is a "Solution Architect"?

      • by Brigadier (12956)

        I am a project manager employed at an architecture firm who is also a licensed architect. I guess if you wanted to be anal about it, and it would seem so i would be a project architect.

        Many companies are based on different team members all functioning at different levels. On any project it is possible to have licensed architects acting as designers, project managers, construction administrators, specification writers, you name it. It's a matter of what the project calls for and what your specific expertise

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bobbozzo (622815)

        Obviously it didn't occur to you that Architecture has meanings other than what you do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751)

      Probably one of the most interesting projects I've worked on to date is Overseeing design consultants for an FAA funded Residential Sound Insulation Project. What made this a challenge was having to work with Airport Technocrats, Acoustic Engineers, General Contractors, Mechanical Engineers, Architects all in the same room at the same time. None of which having the desire to understand what the other did, and all believing his or her aspect of the project was most important. Insert politically motivated agenda's and viola a nightmare to oversee.

      Ok, change the job titles to any you like and you have defined the (IMO) basic problem of a project manager. Technical politician == project manager?

      Succinctly well stated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)

      I'm a couple years into my architecture career, and I've been working at a firm where there's basically zero organization. What that means is that everyone gets put in charge of their own projects and is basically left to fend for themselves (even the summer interns.) It's a very inefficient and strange way to run things, but somehow the guy running the firm has run it that way for decades and still manages to get tons of work, so he'll probably never change.

      But I'm not going to refute your point, my experi

    • by byronf (649750)

      Well thus my job title (Project Manager, Architecture)
      This is why IT sucks!
  • The sad part of my exposure to project management as it applies to Software development is that any project large enough to require use of a project management approach is destined to fail simply because of its size.

    • any project large enough to require use of a project management approach is destined to fail simply because of its size.
      Try telling that to Boeing and point to the Future Combat Systems contract... 550 contractors, 41 states, contract through 2030, $340 billion dollars (source, wikipedia, and my daily existence...) True, this behemoth may ultimately fail, but I've got some pretty serious job security.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spaced-cadet (922123)

      Large software projects can succeed but they require

      1) A PM experienced in software development
      2) Good communication and trust between the PM, the developers and the client
      3) Support from management, especially in making the correct resources available to the project at the correct time

      In my experience the two most common factors that contribute significantly to the failure of a project is poor specification and constraints exerted by the rest of the business on key resources.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:43PM (#23907127) Homepage

    Know when to cut your losses if you can. I used to work for a team that managed a component used by several projects at a large client, and one of those projects was run by a real textbook case of a nearly psychotic bully. After a while, my management decided that the pay wasn't worth the damage he was doing, and pulled our people off the contract.

    Our management was smart because they actually gauged the cost-benefit ratio of keeping our people on that contract and realized that yes, numbers might go up for a quarter or two, but employees would start leaving, and that would be worse for business than dropping the contract.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AK Marc (707885)
      Project managers shouldn't have that issue. The project sponsor should be advised by the project manager, and is the one to make the call. Yes, the project manager is the one to bring it up if no one else has, but it is always the call of the project sponsor of when to cut their losses.
      • by rsborg (111459)

        Project managers shouldn't have that issue. The project sponsor should be advised by the project manager, and is the one to make the call.

        Clearly in this case, the contractors felt they were being abused and ended the contract and the income rather than subject their employees to the abuse. Seems like the "sponsor" if they had one, was turning a blind eye to the bullying done by the PM, or actively promoted it.

        Sad to say, I've seen this on more than one occasion. I applaud the contractor's higher ups for pu

    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday June 23, 2008 @04:01PM (#23909285)

      and one of those projects was run by a real textbook case of a nearly psychotic bully
      In fact there is an anti-pattern [wikipedia.org] specifically for that type of manager: cage match negotiator. The cage match negotiator takes a "win the argument at any cost" approach to dispute resolution, up to and including driving other team members off the project. The name comes from the cage match [wikipedia.org] format in wrestling where multiple wrestlers enter the cage but only one exits victorious when the match is finished.
  • by onkelonkel (560274) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:49PM (#23907205)
    the technical discipline that tells us that nine women can make a baby in one month.
    • by VisualStim (130062) on Monday June 23, 2008 @01:56PM (#23907291) Homepage

      the technical discipline that tells us that nine women can make a baby in one month.
      ... yet still misses the requirement of at least one man on the project.
      • by suggsjc (726146)
        I think you are forgetting that this is /.
        Most of the readers don't know what to do with a single woman, let alone 9 of them at the same time!!!
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by fyoder (857358)

          Most of the readers don't know what to do with a single woman, let alone 9 of them at the same time!!!

          Duh. You get them to get it on with one another. Live porn!

          Though it might be more productive to teach them to code. If I had a team of nine babes who could take over low level coding while I focussed on high level design, that would be sweet.

          • If I had a team of nine babes who could take over low level coding while I focussed on high level design, that would be sweet.
            Reminds me of a discussion at the office some time ago. The question was "what if we were billionaires?". The answer was: a custom made gold-plated, diamond-studded laptop with Ubuntu installed. And a team of beautiful female kernel hackers, ready to whip up a driver for any piece of hardware that we might buy.
    • by Kingrames (858416)

      The downside to this methodology is that you have all the fun at the beginning and then you are REALLY screwed.

    • No, those are the accountants/bean counters. Project managers are the ones who try to actually GET 9 women to make one baby in a month, because their PHB said do it.

    • by Xarin (320264)

      the technical discipline that tells us that nine women can make a baby in one month.
      and one can outsource it to 9 guys in Bangalore.

  • I'm a program manager, so that's like totally different.~
  • As a working PM, I can attest that even in our own field there is a flexibility to the terms "project manager" and "project". Consider it a holy war of sorts. So when someone applies for a position as a PM, it often helps if they have a PMP certification so its clear what their definitions look like.

    http://www.pmi.org/CareerDevelopment/Pages/Certification-and-the-Job-Market.aspx [pmi.org]

    • Great. Just another piece of paper put out by an organization to make it exclusive. Sort of like attorneys. Can't be an attorney unless you pass the bar which in no way guarantees you are qualified to represent someone with the reverse also being true. Take a look at this article [typepad.com]. Do you really want the guy who took 47 times to pass the exam to be representing you?

      On the PM note, our CIO likes to think of himself as a PM, what with his MBA and all, but I wouldn't put him in charge of taking care o

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by turbidostato (878842)

      "I can attest that even in our own field there is a flexibility to the terms "project manager" and "project". Consider it a holy war of sorts."

      Of course that happens only when you use Vi. Try Emacs instead.

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      I've found the more comprehensive Project & Integration Management Professional certification to be more useful than this one. The main advantage of that more comprehensive program is that if anyone disagrees with your project plan, you are allowed to smack them with your cane.

  • by avecfrites (605293) on Monday June 23, 2008 @02:56PM (#23908297)
    From long experience, I can say that there are two things to do which get products out on time: 1) Pare requirements to the absolute minimum. Decide which features are required, and which are nice to have. And forget about the latter. (The engineers will stick some of those in on their own, according to their passions). 2) Keep everyone working in parallel. Ferret out any situations where someone is waiting for something, and eliminate those. And you'll see that in many cases those "waiting" scenarios indicate more serious misunderstandings about who is doing what.
  • "The Nemesis function used to be handled informally. Now it's a profession, kind of like Project Management."

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2006-08-12/

  • Really...there are not literally tons of books about this subject. Really...there are not numerous certifications for Project Management. Blank stares from some maybe, but really...this is presented as a topic that is breaking ground? Really.
  • In the modern uber large multinational large cap corporations, project management is actually done by a bunch of people. 1 guy manages the workers. 1 guy manages the schedules. 1 guy sells it to the customer. Insecure guys at the top hire more & more mediocre managers to pass the blame on to so it is more finely broken up over time.

  • by Stook (1270928) on Monday June 23, 2008 @04:15PM (#23909483)
    So I've read through many of the comments and have a few thoughts regarding them. My background comes from being a BA transitioning into a PM. I also have the PMI certification.

    1) While delegating out tasks and keeping track of time and budget are part of what a PM does, it's been my experience that the above is the minimum for a good PM. I've found that companies value not only someone who is going to manage the tasks, but also work with the business to help finalize the definition of the project and realize all the various business scenarios they will face before the project ever starts. This helps prevent scope creep and gives the architect a clearer picture of what is wanted. From my experience, I've never managed a project solely on tasks alone. If I don't understand the entire business aspect, I don't do the project.

    2) There is certainly a need for a PM and a Technical Architect. The distinction I've experienced is as a PM, it is my job to define how the system should work from an operational perspective and outline all business rules. It is the architect's responsibility to design the systems in a manner that will be reliable to meet the above directives.

    3) Waterfall vs. Iterative Development. My personal thoughts on this, and this is up for interpretation by anyone, is that the best method is a hybrid of the two. There's no reason I can't go through an intensive definition and design exercise prior to starting the project and outline all the business rules/operations. However, a good PM knows how to manage the business' (read executives) expectations on when the project will be completed. Always build in a buffer. Once the Project Plan is complete, iterative development can begin, working on chunks of functionality broken down into short term goals.

    4) Good PMs should be honest and stick up for the technical team as much as the business. They should know when to push back on which side.

    Now open for complaints...
    • by Krater76 (810350)

      There's no reason I can't go through an intensive definition and design exercise prior to starting the project and outline all the business rules/operations. ... Once the Project Plan is complete, iterative development can begin, working on chunks of functionality broken down into short term goals.

      Having experience with a project from the beginnings of a startup and a project within a multi-billion-dollar non-software corporation, I have to say that the above definition isn't iterative development. That's simply waterfall with the milestones labeled as 'iterations'.

      True iterative, agile development works well in situations where you are developing something that is somewhat nebulous. Startups are where this happens a lot. You end up building your product and then market pressure dictates where

  • by vinn01 (178295) on Monday June 23, 2008 @04:48PM (#23909867)


    There are (at least) two definitions for "Project Manager". One definition is what we would like the term to mean. The other definition is how most others use the term. The term "Project Manager" has has been corrupted, like "Engineer" and "Hacker".

    In the non-slashdot world....

    1. An engineer could be a person to cleans toilets (building engineer or sanitation engineer).
    2. A hacker is a person who engages in fraud and who uses a computer.
    3. A project manager is an administrative assistant who distributes schedules, meeting minutes, and status reports.

    I've only worked in one company that did not use definition #3. All other corporations where I've worked have used definition #3. There was even one company that asked that a new hire have a PMP. But the actual work they did was definition #3. They only managed paper, not people or money.

  • Ask someone what 'project management' is and you're liable to get a few blank stares it's one of those fields people have heard of

    Followed by: "Yeh, I dropped of school/college because there was nothing they could teach me about programming".

    Yup, the software world is special - Big Yellow Bus Special.

    Yes I realise this is a broad brush and some pax have read Brooks etc. But then we still get fundemental project management and systems engineering niches reinvented every few years as "Xtreme" or "Agile" or

  • Well, that criterion rules out 99% of the projects I've ever worked on then.

  • Working for both small and large companies over the last 20 years, I've noticed that the first victim of any project is proper project management (the second being proper QA). As a coder who frequently finds them self in this situation, I marked down the 12 steps that *every* software project will go through one way or the other. The difference between a successful project and a clusterfuck - usually boils down to doing them in the correct order the first time. They *will* be done in this order eventually;

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