Monday, March 03, 2008

Reading :: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management, 4th Edition

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management, 4th Edition
by G. Michael Campbell, Sunny Baker

I like to think that I am not included in the audience specified in the book's title. Nevertheless, I've been looking for a good introductory text to project management, and this one had such outstanding reviews that I bought a used copy off of Amazon without seeing it (almost unheard of for me). I read it on the plane trip back from Santa Barbara last week -- it turned out to be a quick read.

It lives up to the hype. The book covers the basics of project management, including a clear definition, a discussion of the phases of project management, guidance on how to manage in ambiguous situations with multiple stakeholders, and the like. It even talks about creating your organization, maintaining communication, collaborating, and diagnosing collaborative and organizational problems. Unlike some of the other project management books I've read, this one assumes no former knowledge in PM.

As I've argued elsewhere, I think that project management is going to be a crucial knowledge work skill, especially for technical communicators: software documentation, once a cash cow for TC, is in far less demand, while management issues such as managing user communities and long-distance collaboration on electronic projects demand new skills. For that reason, I'm strongly considering assigning this book in conjunction with Freed, Freed, and Romano's book on proposal writing: the two complement each other, with Freed et al. alluding to project planning in the context of writing proposals, and Campbell and Baker alluding to proposals and stakeholders in the context of project planning and execution. In any case, this would be a good book for advanced undergrads.

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