Project Management Books and its Categories

Some people say that the general purpose of books is to mirror our world. The reflection is made clearer by a documentation of past experiences, a recorded observation of present practices, or a written proposal of what the imagined future should be.

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Project Management and Books

book clock 2Project management has been defined in different ways. Definitions can range from the simple, such as “about people getting things done”. A more complete definition of it is being a science, a discipline, or the application of knowledge, techniques, and skills, for the successful execution of projects.

Like many disciplines or branches of science, its different aspects have been documented over time for the guidance of those who wish to practice it successfully. These documents have been periodically reviewed, challenged, or revised by practitioners who question what was, criticize what is, or propose better alternatives, with the intent of sharing it with other project managers.

When modern project management began in the 1950s, a great number of books have been published about the subject since. Some directly tackle the topic, while others indirectly touch upon it but still offer great insights and applicable knowledge. In general, PM books available today reflect a wide variety of content, approach, style, and packaging that give interested readers a world of choices.

By Author

A PM book can be categorized by its author. Most of these books are written by subject matter experts with many years or decades of experience in the field. Many have postgraduate degrees or multiple PM certifications. For example, the book Project Management Lite: Just Enough to Get the Job Done… Nothing More is written by Juana Clark Craig, a PMI-certified PMP with more than 25 years of experience working for big enterprises.

Some PM books are written by professionals from a different background but share their experiences related to the subject. Some of these authors come with programming background or from software development, from the construction industry, the aerospace and defense field, and many others.

By Audience

Another category is by its audience. Many PM books offer beginners and aspiring professionals the fundamentals as well as practical tips for a meaningful and rewarding career in this field. For instance, Project Management JumpStart (Third Edition) is for the aspiring project manager or someone new in that role. This introductory book gives the fundamentals as well as updated PM methods and practices that can help the reader transition smoothly into his or her new role.

Equally many are PM books for those who have been in this field for years and are working on books, academic papers or preparing for certification exams. Some may be getting promoted to become program managers, project portfolio managers, or to other senior positions in the company.

By Coverage, Pages, and Price

There are PM books that cover a wide range of discussion in one book. These books have chapters for principles and practices, roles and responsibilities, from planning up to closure, as well as practical guides and recommendations. An example would be The Economist’s Guide to Project Management: Getting it right and achieving lasting benefit. This is a book that is more than 300 pages thick and sells for about 40 dollars.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are books that deal with a more limited scope, like a case-study of a single successful project or about a specific industry such as software project management. There are also books that are 100 pages or less, 15 dollars or cheaper pocketbooks that discuss one aspect only of the discipline such as team working.

By Application, Corporation, Recommendation, or Institution

Some PM books are about a specific software, application, or tool. For instance, Microsoft Office Project 2013 For Dummies is an example of a book that teaches how to use the software to better manage existing projects. This book deals more about a particular program or aid rather than the discipline itself. Still, this kind of books offers professionals some practical ways to efficiently manage their existing projects by showing the benefits of technology, computers, and automation.

Similarly, some books are written, promoted, or recommended by software companies, PM application vendors, consulting companies, or expert authors based on their strategy, partnerships, or market. Some are recommended by the customers themselves who ranked what they bought and wrote reviews on online bookstores. Some books are also published and offered by PM standard institutions such as the PMI or APMG.

By Approach

Some PM books approach the reader with a theoretical, textbook, or reference type of discussion like the PMI’s PMBOK Guide. Others, like Craig’s Project Management Lite and Heldman’s Project Management JumpStart, provide a more practical, workbook, step-by-step guide that is easy to understand and follow.

By Topic

Perhaps the biggest selection in a PM book category is the topic it focuses on. The PM topic has major sections, processes or cycles. From project initiation, to planning and design, production, execution, monitoring, controlling, and finally closing the project, countless books have been written. Some books deal with several of these processes together such as Kerzner’s Eleventh Edition of Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. On the other hand, some books deal specifically with only one major component, such as Kendrick’s Identifying and Managing Project Risk (Second Edition), where the author shows the reader how to be aware of risks at every phase of the process.

Availability, Format, and other categories

There are still other categories for books in general these days, and they apply to PM books, too. Today, books are available not only at bricks-and-mortar bookshops but also at online stores such as Amazon, or for download at particular websites. Aside from hardcover or paperback editions, books also now come in Kindle, audio, PDF, or other electronic formats as well. Then there is also the option, for the more resourceful project manager, of finding discounted, used, or free PM books.

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