The book Integrated Project Management and Control: First Comes Theory, Then the Practice, Mario Vanhoucke, arrived while I was on a business trip.
Mario has spoken at several Earned Value Management conferences, written two other important books Measuring Time and Dynamic Scheduling. The first is a books about research of a methods of different computational experiments about project performance management. The second, is book about existing methods of dynamic scheduling and the integration of baseline scheduling, risk analysis, and project controls.
Integrated Project Management is a book about monitoring project progress using Earned Value and Earned Schedule, combined with Schedule Risk Analysis, Monitoring and controlling processes for identifying potential problems in a timely manner (abstracted from back cover).
The book is small - 141 pages - packed with dense material. It's not an easy read for all the right reasons. Any project management book that is an easy read will likely not contain much material that can be applied to the hard problems of increasing the probability of project success.
Chapter 5 is my favorite for many reasons. It is titled Forecasting, has starts with
One of the primary tasks of a project manager is making decisions about the future, during project progress. ... Forecasting to total project cost and the time to completion is crucial to take corrective actions when problems or opportunities arise and hence, the performance measures will be mainly used as early warning signals to detect these project problems or opportunities.
There are several impact concepts here:
- Forecasting is part of normal project process
- Forecasting is needed to reveal problems or opportunities
Forecasting is used in the book. Forecasting is estimating about this in the future. Weather forecasting. General estimating includes forecasts of past, present, and future. These are mathematical and statistical terms that are sometimes unfamiliar to software developers.
So if you hear the future of project variables can't be estimated suggest the person saying that buy and read this book, then think again how this is done.
What Does This Mean in Practice?
The notion that business and technical decisions around cost and schedule can be made without estimating the variables that impact those decisions has not basis in theory or practice. I've been reminded by Mike Clayton, that decisons can certaintly be made with knowing this information - these are called Bad Decisions. And like Bad Management, done often in many domains.
So time to learn how to manage projects with success, rather than listing all the reasons things go wrong.