Until the early '90s, project management was definitely located somewhere near the unsexy end of the business spectrum. But now, with the rise of downsizing and outsourcing, it has become one of the hot disciplines. Professional membership of the U.S.-based Project Management Institute has quadrupled in the last decade, and Microsoft claimed recently to have over 2 million users worldwide of its project-management software. The reasons for this growth are simple. Project management is about managing "projects," that is, unique pieces of work (as opposed to ongoing operations). Downsizing, outsourcing, and the accelerating pace of change have meant that, increasingly, work is carried out on an ad-hoc, one-off project basis. The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management is designed as an advanced textbook for businesspeople with a grasp of the basics and insufficient time (or inclination) to go back to school to learn more. Written by Eric Verzuh, president of the Versatile Company, a leading project-management consultancy, this is not a heavy academic text.
Like the rest of the Fast Forward series, this book is designed to let the reader extract maximum information in minimum time. There is a strong use of graphics with tables, charts cross-heads, and bullet points. Important passages are flagged in bold and/or emblazoned with the words key concept. When you read it, you realize that there is nothing magical about project management, just the application of careful common sense. The book covers all the basic stuff like planning, time-tabling, quantity and price estimation, resource allocation, and scheduling. But it also acknowledges that there is inevitably a political dimension to every project, no matter how small. So it has important sections on how to ensure that all the stakeholders in the project are kept "on board" and the importance of communication.
As Verzuh states in his introduction, "Every project participant from part-time team member to executive sponsor, becomes more effective once he or she understands the basics of project management." Really, this is a book about management that every manager should read, whether he or she has a project or not. --Alex Benady