- Paperback: 250 pages
- Publisher: O′Reilly; 1 edition (28 August 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934356298
- ISBN-13: 978-1934356296
- Product Dimensions: 19 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,84,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Manage Your Project Portfolio (Pragmatic Programmers) Paperback – Import, 28 Aug 2009
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""[This book is] a strong pick for any business interested in organizing and prioritizing projects. It shows how to tie work to an organization's mission, get a better view of workflow options and priority scheduling, and make decisions based on better portfolio management. Any business library needs this.""- Midwest Book Review
About the Author
Johanna Rothman helps leaders solve problems and seize opportunities. She consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. She enables managers, teams, and organizations to become more effective by applying her pragmatic approaches to the issues of project management, risk management, and people management. Johanna publishes The Pragmatic Manager, a monthly email newsletter and podcast, and writes two blogs: Managing Product Development and Hiring Technical People. She is the author of several books: - Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management - Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management (with Esther Derby) - Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People - Corrective Action for the Software Industry (with Denise Robitaille).
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The main topic of this book is agile project management--how to collect, sort, rank, and execute lots of projects given limited time, scope, and manpower. While the ideas (like all agile ideas) are inherently simple and straightforward, agile project management is far from the norm in most organizations. This book analyzes project management from the ground up, starting off with the basics, and working up to the most intricate details and scenarios--all practical and useful.
**If you're trying to decide whether or not to purchase this book:** Buy. It. Now. This book is extremely well written, and packed with useful information that will help you (no matter what level of organization you're at) manage your projects more effectively, and greatly increase your overall project completion rate. As a technical lead myself, I found this information incredibly valuable. Don't wait! Get it :)
On to my full review! Below is the layout of the book, hopefully this gives you some idea of the content inside:
- Meet Your Project Portfolio
- See Your Future
- Create the First Draft of Your Portfolio
- Evaluate Your Projects
- Rank the Portfolio
- Collaborate on the Portfolio
- Iterate on the Portfolio
- Make Portfolio Decisions
- Evolve Your Portfolio
- Measure the Essentials
- Define Your Mission
- Start Somewhere ... But Start
The book goes at a pretty even pace throughout, gradually explaining more and more details and process involved in project management. It's meant to be read through from start to finish (and should be, it's relatively short, only ~250 pages).
Overall, I really liked this book. I learned a lot about project management. Here are some of the gems:
- Multitasking is evil. Have people work on a single project at a time. This greatly improves performance and allows you to be agile in your management approach. You can calculate expected project completion times better, you'll get better feedback from your customers, you'll keep others happy with your transparency, etc.
- Collect *all* projects in the portfolio. Every single one should be collected. This way you have a single list of on-going projects, and can reference it without worrying about missing stuff.
- Each project needs to be reviewed at the end of each iteration (typically 1 -> 4 weeks). This lets you remain agile in your project approach. Should we continue with this project? Should we make adjustments to its goals? Should we kill it? Should we consider it at a later time?
- Any projects that aren't in progress, in the backlog, or killed should be in the parking lot. This is a special location that you'll go to periodically to revisit old ideas, and consider starting them.
- Wait till the last minute to commit to things (project funding, staffing, emergency requests, etc.). This will allow you to remain agile with your management.
Again--this was an awesome book. I highly recommend it.
The author points out that "if everyone in your organization (senior managers, middle managers, technical leads, functional managers, and project managers) is wedded to a serial life cycle and no one is willing to consider finishing valuable chunks of work frequently, you can't use a pragmatic approach to managing the project portfolio". In addition, "when your organization's management refuses to make a project portfolio, that lack of decision making is guaranteeing at least one or more schedule games. Or, people will decide which project to work on first, and that decision may not agree with yours. Without project portfolio management, you have more projects competing for the same - and limited - number of people. You find you can't commit to which people work on projects when, you're awash in emergency projects, and you and your staff are running yourselves ragged multitasking" which research has consistently shown to be unproductive. While "Manage Your Project Portfolio" is not a technical text by any means and is expected to be an easy read for most audiences, the author did decide to include a couple of very effective diagrams in the second chapter that if understood by the reader will help navigate the rest of the text by understanding what a project portfolio does for the organization, and what happens when no one manages the project portfolio.
In addition to providing new material, Rothman effectively ties in the insights of a number of other authors in this space, and this reviewer especially enjoyed seeing multiple references to Frederick P. Brooks and Gerald M. Weinberg. The manner in which the author incorporates agile philosophies is especially well done. Her discussion on velocity, both individual and team, for example, is quite effective. "Since I've been working in the field, my managers and clients have been trying to measure productivity. What a waste. Individual productivity means nothing. What does mean something is a team's throughput." While many readers might have already come to the same conclusion, Rothman really drives home this point. "If you try to measure individual productivity, you will get some data. And, the people whom you are measuring will game the data, have no fear. If you measure code, they'll write a ton. If you measure tests, they'll write a bazillion. If you measure files, they will have many more than the project needs. No matter what you measure, if it's not running, tested features, then they will game the system. Don't do it. But you say, I have several single-person projects. Surely I can measure that person's productivity. Um, no, you can't. First, I doubt that those people resist talking to each other. Second, how will you compare productivity? If Davey gets the easy projects and Sally gets the hard ones, who is more productive? I can't tell, and neither can you. Stop trying."
If you are a manager and are looking for some sense of how agile practices are relevant to the decisions that you make - read this.
If you are an executive and are looking to understand how to help your software teams turn out better products with less drama - read this.
If you are on a software team and love agile, but can't get your manager to really commit to agile practices, buy him or her this. This explains the WIIFM for agile adoption at the manager level. (WIIFM - What's in it for me?)
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