RTM’d today: Successful Project Management: Applying Best Practices and Real-World Techniques with Microsoft Project


We’re very pleased to announce that Bonnie Biafore’s book, Successful Project Management: Applying Best Practices and Real-World Techniques with Microsoft Project has shipped to the printer!

With this practical guide, project management expert Bonnie Biafore shows you proven project management techniques, shares the real-world experiences of professionals in several industries, and shows you how to put best practices to work using powerful Project 2010 tools.

Learn best practices and proven methods from project management pros -- and apply these newfound skills with Microsoft Project 2010. Put hard-won lessons of experts to work using powerful Project 2010 tools; work effectively with project stakeholders, management, and team members; define scope, objectives, and deliverables; estimate work, choose resources, build project schedules, and track progress; accurately estimate project costs and work with a budget; identify and manage project changes and risks; balance project variables without sacrificing quality; and document project history and lessons-learned to help improve future projects.

Bonnie’s book will be available via online retailers around March 15. In the meantime, here’s more information about the book:

Contents at a Glance

Part 1: Getting a Project Started

Chapter 1: Meet Project Management

Chapter 2: Obtaining Approval for a Project

Part 2: Planning a Project

Chapter 3: Planning to Achieve Success

Chapter 4: Building a Work Breakdown Structure

Chapter 5: Project Resources

Chapter 6: Building a Project Schedule

Chapter 7: Working with a Budget

Part 3: Carrying Out a Project

Chapter 8: Executing the Project Plan

Chapter 9: Evaluating Project Performance

Chapter 10: Managing Project Resources

Chapter 11: Communicating Information

Part 4: Controlling Projects

Chapter 12: Managing Project Changes

Chapter 13: Modifying the Project Schedule

Chapter 14: Balancing the Budget and Other Project Variables

Chapter 15: Managing Risk

Part 5: Closing Projects

Chapter 16: Learning Lessons

Chapter 17: Managing Project Completion

Chapter 18: Archiving Historical Information

Part 6: Beyond Projects

Chapter 19: Selecting and Prioritizing Projects

Chapter 20: Other Project Management Approaches



Project management has been around for centuries. After all, how do you think the Pyramids were built? Organizations have come to recognize that a lot of the work they do is project-oriented. And when they realize that good project management can save both time and money, that’s about the time that people like you receive the call to be a project manager.

You aren’t the only one. Membership in the Project Management Institute (PMI), a professional organization for project managers founded in 1969, reached 8,500 in 1990. Its membership topped 100,000 in 2003 and, by the end of 2010, was 330,000. More than 400,000 people have earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential.

If you have little or no formal education in project management, congratulations, you’ve become an accidental project manager. You probably earned the assignment because you’re dependable and good at organizing your work. However, you may have only a vague idea of what you’re supposed to do or what it takes to succeed. To compound the challenge, Microsoft Project can seem like a Japanese puzzle box—getting a handle on one feature leads to another feature that you don’t understand.

Even if you know your way around a Gantt chart and can build a decent schedule in Project, chances are that nagging problems come up on the projects you manage. That’s why project managers are so valuable. Nagging problems always come up on projects. By learning more about how to manage projects, you can prevent many problems and you can reduce the impact of many others. For example, scope creep is an all-too-common problem in which one small change to project scope after another sneaks into your plan until you have no chance of meeting your schedule or budget. Setting up a process for managing changes gives the project team the opportunity to say no to changes that aren’t that important and to say yes to important changes even if they require a little more time or a little more money.

Although project management includes some techniques that are relatively straightforward, such as defining which task is the predecessor and which is the successor, most of what you do to manage projects is more touchy-feely. Communicating, negotiating, leading, and all other aspects of working with people can consume a lifetime of study, and you’d still have situations that make you stop and think.

The good news is that, as a project manager, you provide a highly valuable service to your organization, and your days will always bring something new and interesting. The bad news is that you’re trying to learn new skills while you’re overworked—what with trying to corral an untamed project, recovering from mistakes you’ve made, and trying to learn how to use Project as well. Training would help, but you don’t have the time, and the training dollars in your organization are probably scarce.

Successful Project Management is here to help. This book tackles two broad topics that many project managers need:

· A practical education in project management

· Instructions for making the most of Project and other Microsoft Office applications to manage projects successfully

Successful Project Management isn’t some ponderous textbook about project management. It’s an easy-to-read guide to managing projects from start to finish. If you’re managing projects for the first time, it acts as your mentor by providing practical advice for managing projects more successfully and avoiding the more common project management mistakes. If you’re already managing projects, you can jump directly to a chapter to prepare for your next project management task or respond effectively to the latest project situation. The book uses plain English to explain project management tools, techniques, and terminology, so you can learn the lingo as you learn what to do.

Unlike many product-oriented books with chapter after chapter devoted to Project features, no matter how obscure, the primary focus of Successful Project Management is how to manage projects. However, you will find plenty of instructions for making the most of Microsoft products for project management. You’ll learn how to choose the most appropriate feature for the situation you face. And you’ll master Project features that are incredibly helpful but also incredibly confusing—until you know their secrets.

The organization of this book follows the PMI methodology and is broken into five parts that correspond to the PMI process groups: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing.

· Part 1, “Getting a Project Started,” corresponds to PMI’s initiating process group and describes how to get a project off the ground. The first chapter is an introduction to projects and project management. The other chapter in this part of the book explains how to define what a project is supposed to accomplish, gain commitment to move forward, and work effectively with project stakeholders―people who have a vested interest in the successful outcome of the project.

· Part 2, “Planning a Project,” describes how to define and prepare a plan for achieving project objectives. This part corresponds to PMI’s planning process group. The first chapter is an introduction to project planning and explains all the components of a project plan and how they contribute to success. The other chapters in this part of the book explain in detail how to develop different parts of a project plan from the work breakdown structure (WBS) to a project schedule and budget. You’ll also learn about some of the financial measures that executives use to evaluate projects. In this part of the book, you’ll learn how to use Microsoft Word to author project plan documents, Project to build the project schedule, Microsoft Excel to develop a budget and analyze financial measures, and Microsoft Visio to construct project diagrams.

· Part 3, “Carrying Out a Project,” corresponds to PMI’s executing process group and describes what you do when you begin to implement the project plan you developed in Part 2. You’ll learn how to evaluate project performance and manage the resources working on your project. Perhaps the most important chapter in the book, Chapter 11, “Communicating Information,” not only describes how to build a communication plan for your project but also offers advice for communicating effectively in writing, in meetings, and via email. You can apply the techniques described in this chapter to every phase of your projects.

· Part 4, “Controlling Projects,” covers the work you do almost immediately upon beginning to execute a project. This part corresponds to PMI’s controlling process group and describes how you manage the changes that are an inevitable part of every project. You’ll learn how to control change requests so they don’t overwhelm your original schedule and budget. You’ll also learn how to modify the project schedule in response to changes, balance the budget with other project performance measures to make good business decisions, and manage risks.

· Part 5, “Closing Projects,” consists of three short chapters that correspond to PMI’s closing process group. Although closing a project doesn’t represent much of the time and effort in a project, the work you do is incredibly valuable to future projects. In this part of the book, you’ll learn how to collect the lessons that people learned while working on a project, perform the tasks to tie up the loose ends at the end of a project, and store the results of a project for others to refer to in the future.

· Part 6, “Beyond Projects,” describes how to select and prioritize the projects your organization undertakes when you don’t have enough time, money, or resources to run them all. In this section, you also learn about additional methodologies for managing projects, including the critical chain approach and agile project management.

· The Glossary at the end of the book is a quick reference to the project management terms used in the book.

Chapters in the book describe what project managers do and how these activities help deliver projects successfully. You’ll find practical advice about steps to take on large projects and steps that might be omitted for small projects. Many chapters include step-by-step instructions or recommended features for Project and other Office applications. In addition, this book includes several helpful features of its own:

· Sidebars provide in-depth discussion of project management techniques.

· Best Practices sidebars describe particularly effective practices used by many project managers to prevent problems or dramatically improve project performance.

· Tips highlight shortcuts and other simple but helpful techniques.

· Warnings represent minor problems and how to prevent them.

· Notes provide additional information about topics in the text.

· Project Files represent content that is available on the companion website.

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