While working on a government proposal over the holidays - as is typical for the government to put out the RFP and then go on vacation - I came across another book that is needed for the Program Office Library
- Assumption Based Planning - A Tool for Reduce Avoidable Surprises, James A Dewar, Cambridge University Press. This is a book all complex system development managers need to read and put to use. The concept is that planning in the presence of uncertainty requires a formal "assumptions" management process. This sounds simple, but in fact is a complex adaptive systems problem. For those in the agile world who use the term CAS and likely have little understanding of the theory, this is a book for the planning management processes needed to develop system in the presence of uncertainty.
Josh Nankivel asked for some suggestions of books on project management. In my experience most of he books on project and program management are too simple for any practical use. Over the years (30 years) I've had a different approach to books. First I'm the son of a University Librarian. I grew up in a house where books were scattered everyone. My mother read many books in parallel, a habit I enjoy. She also taught me to buy book I had no use for at the moment. Because when you needed them it was too late. This means reading things in preparation for some future need. In my short lived physics career and my longer lived technical management career, this advice has severed me well.
Two other important quotes were:
This too will pass
This is what mothers are for.
My list to Josh is:
- The Handbook of Program Management, James T. Brown. This is a real handbook, with specific advice on managing programs from a professional program manager. I've posted a review for a more detailed background. This is the first book to buy, since it shows what is needed to successfully manage a Program. This is not a project management book however.
- For project management The Management of Projects, Peter W. G. Morris is my favorite. This is not a handbook nor a how too book, It is a history of project management. As such it is a guide of what has worked and not worked in the past.
- A similar book is Anti-Patterns in Project Management, Brown, Malveau, McCormick, and Mowbray, John Wiley. The anti-patterns speak to what not to do in software development projects.
- Systems Engineering: Coping with Complexity, Stevens, Brook, Jackson, and Arnold is a systems engineering book. Every non-trivial project is really a systems engineering problem. This book is a good introduction to the concepts of SE.
- Performance Based Earned Value, Paul Solomon, John Wiley & Sons. This is one of the best EV books to own. Paul integrates technical performance measures with EV to provide tangible evidence of physical percent complete.
- Catastrophe Disentanglement: Getting Software Projects Back on Track, E. M. Bennatan. For any whoi has struggled with "getting back on track," this book provide detailed steps.
- Project Delivery System: 4th Edition, CH2M Hill. This book was used during my Rocky Flats PMO job. It is written for construction projects, but is applicable to other projects, including software. PDS is the CH2M Hill project management method. Project management is what CH does and they do it well. Learning from a firm that earns their living successfully managing high risk projects is a good place to start. You order this book from Amazon, since it is not in the store.
- Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson. There are two versions of this book. I personally like the 1st version best. The 2nd version removes some of the structure I like. This is not officially a project management book, but the information on how to build a Power Point presentation is directly applicable to building a credible project plan.
- How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff. This is available in paper back. This boo allows the project manager to recognize the "lies" that are produced in status reports, budget forecasts, and other tools used to hide progress, risk, and productivity.
- Effective Risk Management: Some Keys to Success, Edmund Conrow, AIAA Press. This is a heavy weight risk management book. By heavy weight I mean it is heavy reading. But it also contains everything you need to effectively manage risks - both technical and programmatic. I had the privilege to work with Dr. Conrow on the Crew Exploration program. He's the author of the risk management section of the DoD PMBOK and several risk management guides for DoD.
- Augustine's Laws, Norm Augustine, Viking. This is a look at larger government programs from the view of the President of Martin Marietta Corporation. Norm's Laws have general applicability to enterprise IT and REP projects in many cases.
- Herding Chickens, Dan Bradbary and David Garrett, is a clever book with some good ideas,
- The Office of Government Commerce has several handbooks useful to project managers:
- Skills Framework
- Skills Framework Assessment Guide
- Portfolio Management Guide
- Project, Program, Portfolio Management Maturity Model (P3M3)
- The two agile project management book I'd recommend are Kevin Aguanno's Managing Agile Projects and Mike Cohen's Agile Estimating and Planning. I have a review of Mikes book here.