Strategic Project Management Made Simple – A Book Review
Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams challenges the reader to first answer important questions before beginning any project. It is a book that helps project managers start correctly by asking primarily what is it that they are trying to accomplish and for what purpose. The reader is then given tools such as the Logical Framework that will help him or her do a proper job of planning, implementing, and evaluating the project.
The book which comes in hardcover is 6.2 inches wide, 9.1 inches tall, and about 1 inch thick. It has 272 pages and was published in February 9, 2009. The front cover has the title and the name of the author in very readable letters, and the back cover contains testimonials from different people including authors, project managers, executives, and educators from both private and public institutions.
ISBN-10: 0470411589; ISBN-13: 978-0470411582
Strategic Project Management Made Simple will be appreciated by beginners and experienced project professionals alike. The ability to clarify and understand clearly first and foremost what the project is about and why it should be done are excellent skills to have. But the book is better suited for the experienced project manager who can grasp the concepts better, especially those who had a fair share of difficult and problematic projects. The book puts emphasis on designing and defining goals that relate to the bigger picture of the whole organization, so a professional with a more senior position can apply the concepts better.
What Customers Say
Reader getAbstract (Goodreads) recommends the book and describes it as a helpful reference that provides a “thoughtful look at project management.” This reader further praised the book’s author for going beyond explaining the right techniques so that projects provide real strategic value.
James Brady (Amazon) gave it 5 stars because it clearly demonstrated the importance of addressing projects from a strategic perspective. He commends Terry for giving a “very structured yet practical and flexible way” of improving project portfolio management.
Leon Rosenberg, who claims to have invented the Logical Framework tool that Terry Schmidt used (with some additions) and featured in the book was pleased. He applauds the author for making the effort to make available some of the powerful and practical concepts that can be applied by leaders in many types of industries and institutions.
Content, Approach, Style
The three parts of the book include a total of 11 chapters. The first part introduces the concept of being strategic, the four critical strategic questions, and the Logical Framework as a tool. The second part discusses in greater detail the four questions and gives tips to apply the concepts practically. The last part contains the last three chapters and discusses how to put the concepts into action such as by taking the Cycle-Logical Approach.
Turning ideas into actionable plans is guided by going through the four critical strategic questions step-by-step, the first three of which focuses on project objectives, metrics, and risks. Only the last question deals with activities, budget, and schedule, showing that the emphasis of the book is really on answering questions like what and why rather than how.
Most readers find the book easy to read and practical, even though it discusses concepts, strategy, and framework. However, most of these readers are experienced project professionals and managers. Still, the concepts are presented in a way that is clear, understandable, and applicable, together with tips, tools, and real-world case studies.
Why Buy the Book
Strategic Project Management Made Simple received a total of 55 customer reviews in Amazon, 47 of them giving 5 stars, with the remaining eight giving 4 stars. To date, it has remained in the top 50 in Amazon’s Best Seller in PM category, considering this same edition was published in 2009.
A strategy in simpler terms can be defined as finding out where the organization is today, where it wants to be tomorrow, and what actions to take to get there. Unfortunately, many projects (and businesses) fail because the strategy is too vague. This book helps clarify things, so that project teams know exactly what to do and why.
Books that Complement
For the experienced project professional who wants to explore further the ideas, philosophies, and strategies for defining and leading projects, Scott Berkun’s Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management is a good option.
On the other hand, project managers who want a complementary book that focuses on how to get the job done can look at Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Gregory Horine (Third Edition). The clear and simple instructions on how to build a plan, a work breakdown schedule, budget, and schedules become even more meaningful when people know what the project is about and why it is needed.
Terry Schmidt is a management consultant and founder of ManagementPro.com, a consultancy that helps organizations and companies apply strategic management principles to achieve their goals. Mr. Schmidt is a BS in Aerospace Engineering graduate of the University of Washington. He also has an MBA from Harvard. He is a certified PMP and teaches strategic project management at the UCLA and the University of Wisconsin. He is also a strategy coach and teaches team building in the MIT Professional Institute. He has more than 30 years experience in PM and management, and has shared these through his professional service in 34 countries.