We start with two bits of good news:
This is a book for anybody who is about to start, or who has just started, on a task that is somewhat bigger and more complex than they are used to. You may know this is a project, or you may just be realising that your normal approach of scrawling a hurried list of things to do on a piece of scrap paper to act as memory jogger is not quite enough to make sure you get this task done. You may have been given a project by your boss or you may be an entrepreneur creating your own projects. The project may be a conventional business project, such as launching a new product, opening a new branch or improving the way something is done. However, it may be that you're embarking on something self-initiated and non-work-related such as building a new house. The list of possible projects is endless. The common thing about these tasks is that they are complex and important. You want to complete the task successfully, and you want to do so whilst looking fully competent and professional. What you don't have is the time, inclination or money to hire or become a professional project manager. Don't worry this book will show you that in many cases this is not necessary, because project management is easy.
If you have some common sense, can follow a series of steps and apply them in the structured way described, and have the ability to make simple judgements, then you can manage and complete a project successfully.
You can also benefit from this book if you are starting out on a career as a professional project manager. This book will teach all the essentials that, with a bit of common sense and experience, will enable you to become a successful project manager. I'm not saying that the more specialised books do not add value, sometimes they do, but the secret to project management is in getting the basics right. If you are a project manager who wants to be able to do projects, without filling your head with obscure jargon and overly complex models, then this is the book for you.
Finally, perhaps you are a senior manager in a business. Project managers work for you and you send them off to do great and important things, but you are a bit fed up with getting confused by their jargon and want to cut through to the core issues. You want to manage and get the best from your project managers, but to do this you need a better understanding of what and how they do things without spending a large amount of time becoming an expert. This book will quickly make project management clear to you.
What you will be able to do once you have read the book
If you read this book, absorb and practise the approach described within it, and apply it with some common sense, you will be able to:
How this is done
Project management, like most specialist disciplines, grows in complexity all the time. It has its own jargon, approaches, professional qualifications and societies. But you do not need all of this for your task. The very specialist approaches are just that, specialist approaches that are useful in special situations; most times you do not need them.
This book explains the essentials of project management in a simple way but do not confuse simple with dumb or basic, think of it more as straightforward and practical. This book leaves out the esoteric and highly specialised parts of project management, not because they are too complex, but because in 90 per cent of situations, you don't need them. If you are really about to start building a new Channel Tunnel, sending a satellite into space, or developing computer software to control all the traffic flows in a country, then yes, you probably do need the most advanced project management methods and tools and more than is in this book. But most tasks are not like this. There are lots of tasks that have sufficient complexity for you to worry about, that you will not be able to ensure they are completed successfully without some structure and tools, but for which the structure and tools can be simple, robust, practical, and easy to use and yet still add huge value.
How to use this book
This book is called Project Management: Step by Step because it describes project management as a series of steps. Each of the steps is immediately useful and takes you through the life of a project. The book follows the sequence of steps you should follow in completing your project.
You don't need to read this book end-to-end and then apply it. Chapter 1 provides some basic information that is helpful to understand before you get started. Chapters 2 to 5 provide the step-by-step guide to project management. You can either read a chapter at a time, applying the approach described as you learn it or read it end-to-end and then do your project.
I have tried to avoid using project management jargon as far as possible. In many cases this is easy because the jargon is unnecessary but in some cases I have used it. I use it because in some situations the terms are actually useful; in others because it will help in making you appear as a fully competent and professional project manager. Where I do this, I introduce and explain the terms in advance. In addition there is a useful Glossary at the end of the book which provides a summary of all the project management jargon used.
Every chapter covers one step of the project management lifecycle, and is structured in the same way, with the following eight sections:
Each chapter is filled with examples, so the process explained is completely practical. It can be applied to any project, from a very simple, one-man activity through to a complex project for a team of people. The examples used vary to reflect the varying nature of different projects. Generally the examples have been selected for simplicity, but in some parts of the book clear and more complex examples are used to ensure all the details of the step-by-step guide can be shown.
Your learning process as you read each chapter will be:
This book contains more than the steps to complete a project, as dotted throughout it are text boxes titled 'Key drivers for success'. The information in these boxes is there to support your development as a project manager. The 'Key drivers for success' focus less on the process of managing a project, but look at styles of working that will help to ensure your project is a triumph. Most people can follow a set of steps but not everyone will get the same result. If you follow the steps in this book, your project can be a success, but you can maximise your achievement by adopting certain styles of working and interacting with people as defined in the 'Key drivers for success'.
So sit back, relax, and let's start your project!
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