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“Project management is a rewarding and exciting profession, but it is also one of the most difficult jobs. Project team members and managers often misunderstand it,” Dan Epstein and Rich Maltzman write in their book Project Workflow Management: a Business Process Approach. Epstein and Maltzman agree that project management can be difficult.
“The project manager will never win popularity because, even though he/she is not usually a team member’s personnel manager, he/she still sets work deadlines and demands status reporting. He/she also requests that the project work rules be followed. These demands, even if they are not technically their supervisors, won’t win you any favors with your team members.
This book is a complete project management workflow that covers the entire project lifecycle. The authors define workflow as “a method to identify and diagram procedural steps and logic that are used to achieve a particular goal.”
Because it provides detailed instructions for each step, they claim that this step-by step sequence is different to the process models in A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(r), Guide)). This is why the book is so large.
The workflow is essential for managing a project.
Although you can use the book to manage projects without any formal project management training, I believe it would be easier to apply the concepts to real-world projects once you have a basic understanding of the subject. It is very detailed with many tables, templates, and diagrams.
It would be helpful to have access the flow diagrams and the process descriptions while reading the steps and process descriptions. This is difficult to do on an iPad. If you want to have this book on an electronic device, you could print the diagrams and bring them with you.
The explanations are thorough and there are examples that have been used to assist you. A step-by-step example of cost-benefit analysis is provided. This section will take you out of the process, so it’s a little distracting from the flow. However, the idea behind it all is to make sure you know how each step works.
These are useful tips for project management
The book also includes a chapter on estimating, as well as a checklist of requirements. A good section is dedicated to earned value, while another section is dedicated to training. I also liked that the authors acknowledged that projects are not just something you do during your normal workday. And even if you do, poor planning can make you ineffective. They write:
“Delivery team members typically spend 20% of their time talking on the phone…ad-hoc meetings, conversations, coffee breaks, etc… The project manager’s planning skills are key to efficient resource utilisation. A PM with the right skills can achieve 90% resource utilisation. In other words, inefficiencies in resource utilisation can lead to 10% or more of a PM’s productivity.
They also consider ‘project management time’ overhead. This means that you must ‘do’ project management. It takes between 10% and 20% of total project effort. Make sure to add this to your task estimates.
The downside to this book is the fact that it is very technical and difficult for me to read. There are many acronyms and you may not understand some of them. You will need to go back to the beginning of the text to see what they mean.
Do you need to share your plans?
The authors advise project managers to not share their project schedules with clients “to avoid clients’ attempts at micromanaging the project or request reporting on the completion of each scheduled task.”
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