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Rating scale:

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2 - Okay

3 - Good

4 - Very Good

5 - Excellent

Project Management



Information Technology Project Management by Kathy Schwalbe

Subject: A Basic to Intermediate Textbook on IT Project Management.

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

As one can guess from the price, this book is geared to be used as a text book in a University setting. But almost anyone will find this book extremely useful because the book occupies a unique niche in the market on Project Management books.

There are several project management books out in the market that mostly fall into the following categories - General Project Management, Advanced Project Management, PMP Exam Preparation, and PM Software books. The problem I have had with these books is that there are very few that address IT Project Management and even fewer that use Case Studies throughout. I am in IT Project Management and absolutely require Case Studies to learn any subject thoroughly. Especially a practical subject like Project Management.

This book is perfect for an IT Project Manager because it - covers basic project principles, incorporates the IT view on every topic, has plenty of exercises to prepare for a PM exam (like the PMP or CompTIA's ITProject+), has a very decent section on using Microsoft Project 2000, a 120 day trial version of MS Project 2000 software in case you don't have it, plenty of mini case studies, a real-world running case study of the Northwest Airlines' ResNet project, and an excellent reference list at the end of each chapter. It is clear that the book was aimed at being the perfect reference for any IT Project Manager.

The only downside of this book is that it is very light on all the topics and does not address any advanced topics. But that would have doubled the number of pages in the book and potential been a turn-off to anyone new to the subject. It might not have appealed to an Intermediate level Project Manager either. So I don't feel that this is such a big downside and is actually a positive.

After obtaining my PMP, I came across this book when I was given the opportunity to teach Project Management Part-Time on a need basis at the Austin Community College. They use this book as the required text book for their comprehensive IT Project Management class aimed at those new to the field or those looking to gain a deeper knowledge of IT Project Management. I am glad I received a free copy of this book as I would have normally passed it up as too basic a book (since I already have my PMP). But I now realize that I will benefit tremendously by doing all the exercises in the book and strengthen/deepen my understanding of several Project Management concepts. So my immediate future is going to involve devouring this book.

I hope you too benefit from this book and enjoy using it for any one of the many purposes!

Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controling by Harold Kerzner

Subject: Comprehensive. One stop for Project Management knowledge.

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

Several people I have talked to seem to have mixed feelings about this book. Most never get past the first few pages in the book and many are afraid not to have this book prominently displayed on their desks. The latter is to avoid someone mistaking them for a junior project manager.

The best way to review this monumental book on project management is to list the most common arguments for and against the book.

The book presents comprehensive knowledge of project management that you can substitute only by purchasing several books on the subject by other authors. Dr. Harold Kerzner is also one of the most respected experts on Project Management. Dr. Kerzner now has several companion books to supplement this main text book. One area that the book was considered lacking in the past was with regards to case studies. You can now buy his latest book that is dedicated to covering just case studies. The writing style is extremely easy to read and follow. Once you read his explanation on any topic, you will find that it is hard to disagree with him because his explanations are very compelling.

The reasons many people have disliked the book - the book is too boring to read, it is too long a book, it is a compilation of bullet lists, there are not enough case studies (or problems/exercises), etc. I can't say anything about the first complaint because it is actually true but if you are in the middle of a project and have a burning question, I can promise you that is isn't so boring to pull up the relevant section in the book and find a reasonable explanation to your question. The book is very long because it is an exhaustive treatment of the Project Management field. There is no reason to read it in one sitting. Regarding being a compilation of bullet lists, it does seem that way. But when you have been in project management for a while and have an appreciation for the difficulty of the field, the lists don't get in the way. The author has enough explanations surrounding the bullet lists that I never found them annoying. To address the complaints regarding case studies, problems/exercises, there is now a book dedicated to case studies and I believe there have always been workbooks that he authored which contained more problems/exercises.

A good approach to follow regarding the usage of this book is to buy it early on in your career but stop after reading just the first few chapters. As you are gaining experience and have been exposed to a majority of the project management field, it is time to refer to this book more often. I have followed the book through several editions over the years and looked up various topics as questions popped up in my mind while going through a project. I am yet to finish the whole book (this is my 7th year reading the various editions of his book) after all these years but I didn't expect to. It is a great reference book and I have been using it as one.

There are better books to read on project management if you looking for a quick overview. 'The Little Black Book of Project Management' by Michael Thomsett comes to mind along with 'Project Management - Planning and Control' by Rory Burke. If you are looking for help with the PMP preparation, I highly recommend 'PMP Exam Prep' by Rita Mulcahy. Read my review on her book for more detailed information on taking the exam.

IIL offers several Project Management classes that are taught by excellent instructors if you like what you read in this book and are looking for more of the same. A copy is given out as part of the class materials (for some of their classes). I hope you benefit from reading this book as much as I did and thanks for your patience. This is indeed a difficult book to review.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) - 2000 Edition by Project Management Institute

Subject: A necessary evil to pass the PMP exam.

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

If you are planning on taking the PMP exam, you absolutely NEED to purchase this book. PMI uses this book as a syllabus for the PMP exam. Hence, this book is literally a table of contents of everything that can be tested on the PMP. In addition to being a table of contents, it does have a brief description of each topic.

For the longest time, almost everyone who has taken the PMP exam felt that this was a badly written book. There are two reasons for this.

The first one is that typically nobody likes to read a table of contents. So, why did PMI do this? Because of the vastness of the project management knowledge out there and the difficulty of covering it all in one book, PMI has chosen to only outline what is out there.

The second and more important reason is that the authors/editors did a poor job of connecting these various topics and outline the ideas in a fashion that does not make sense!

Books are written so that you have to read the chapters serially from the beginning to the end of the book. Or in some unique cases, the chapters can be read independently without losing the author's train of thought. This is the only book I have ever read that follows neither principle! I believe this is the reason almost every single reader is confused when trying to read the book.

I have talked to several people who have passed the PMP exam and it is clear that everyone struggles through this book a few times before finding the correct order to read the chapters in the book for the material to stick.

I think it is best to use this as a reference on your bookshelf while you are reading other books on project management. Once you have sufficient experience in the project management field and feel comfortable with the various knowledge areas, it is time to read this book cover to cover and come up with your own order in which to read the different chapters.

My suggestion for the order in which to read the chapters? Read the first three chapters as they are an overview to project management and it is not that confusing. The rest of the chapters are supposed to address the different knowledge areas in an independent fashion. But this isn't true! The different knowledge areas are not independent. They are connected through the five different project management process groups! If you want to make sense of this book, it is better to follow the order of the process groups. It may mean flipping back and forth between different chapters but it works.

This is the only way that I have been able to retain the material long after taking the PMP exam. I hope this particular order works for you but if it doesn't, I suggest trying different ordering of the chapters to find whatever works for you. Do not assume that you have poor project management skills if the material doesn't make sense. It is not you, but the book that is the problem in understanding project management. I wish you the best of luck in overcoming this hurdle. Bottom line, you have to read this book in order to pass the PMP.

By the way, if you are a PMI member, you can download an electronic copy of this book free...The print functionality on this free Adobe Acrobat file is disabled though. Personally, I have always preferred the print version for reference books like this one. Good luck!

PMP Exam Prep (4th Edition) by Rita Mulcahy

Subject: Day Before Exam - PMP Exam Prep Saved the Day!

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

I had taken a very reputable classroom style course to help me pass the test and it was definitely very useful in solidifying the Project Management knowledge I had gained over the past 4-6 years. If I had to do things over again, I would still have taken that class. But they had taken the approach of drilling down into each of the 9 Knowledge Areas and neglected to go across the Knowledge Areas by addressing the 5 Process Groups. Even their software was focussed on testing your expertise with the 9 Knowledge Areas.

Guess what? In order to pass the PMP, you need thorough expertise with the 5 Process Groups! Sure, if you understood the 9 Knowledge Areas 100%, you will indirectly have a grip on the 5 Process Groups. The only problem is that it is almost impossible for that information to stick in your head unless you go across and not just drill down! Preparing for the PMP using the Knowledge Area approach is like learning a language by reading a dictionary!

I was wondering why I was scoring so poorly on the practice tests till I decided to check out the PMP Exam Prep and PM FASTrack(the day before the test). When I started using Rita's PM FASTrack which tests your expertise in both Process Groups and Knowledge Areas, I realized what the missing component was. I then spent the next 4-6 hours carefully studying the more difficult chapters from Rita's PMP Exam Prep book and took another practice test. I only spent about an hour per chapter since I had already been exposed to a lot of the Project Management techniques that are tested. Suddenly, my overall score started improving!

I then kicked myself for not opening her CD-ROM and book till the last minute. But I decided not to panic and just study with high concentration. At this point, I reconciled myself to not passing the test this first time and promised myself that I would read her book cover to cover and take 100% of the practice questions in her CD-ROM the next time.

Fortunately, the next day when I took the test, I was able to stay calm and felt a lot more comfortable when I noticed that the questions on the test were VERY similar to the ones in her book and CD-ROM! I could not believe it, but I was glad :-) I was very happy that I used her material at least for that one day. When I got the score at the end of the 4 hours, I had scored 86. Whew!

... If I were to do it again, I would just take her class instead (much cheaper) where you get all this material free on top of the class. More than anything, following the approach in her book will relieve you of all the tension resulting from the unpredictability and difficulty in taking the PMP exam.

The PMP exam's main source of difficulty stems from the seemingly subjective nature of the questions. Only by thoroughly understanding the material in the official 'Guide to the PMBOK' will anyone be able to see that the questions are actually quite objective in nature. But to understand this really dense 'Guide to the PMBOK', there is no substitute to the 'PMP Exam Prep'! Her material also gave me a much better understanding of project management than any of the other material/class. Among a couple of other books, I still use her PMP Exam Prep book whenever I am going through a project life cycle as a reference.

Good luck with the exam and I hope that the information above helps you pass the exam with a lot more ease.

The Little Black Book of Project Management by Michael C. Thomsett

Subject: The Project Management Primer with the most ROI.

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

If there is only one book you want to read and you don't want to spend more than a few hours to get up to speed on project management, this is that book.

We were introduced to this book in graduate school at Georgia Tech while taking some Industrial Engineering classes that had a lot of team oriented projects. The Industrial Engineering graduate program at Georgia Tech has consistently ranked No. 1 in the nation for at least the last decade. So, when they recommended that we buy, read and keep this book for a long time to come, I didn't question their judgment.

I wasn't too thrilled with what the book had to say when I first read it a few years back. My first impressions were - why are they making such a big deal about these simple concepts? The theory in the book seemed too simplistic at the time. But over the last few years as I started gaining experience as a project manager, I discovered the reasons why this book is so popular.

The reason why this book is so valuable - most people when first introduced to project management are not interested in reading a lot of material on the subject and want to get a Cliff's notes version of the subject. That's when you can get the most benefit from this book. It is better to read this book than not read anything at all on the subject. And it is a very easy book to read.

Over the years, I have been able to convince several people to read this book and gain project management skills because it is not that much of a commitment to ask from people. I have even led weekly project management learning sessions using this book as the main tool. It worked and people learned quite a bit more about project management than they knew before reading the book.

After years of project management experience and passing the PMP, I now realize what a gem this book is even for an experienced project manager. It can act as a refresher if you read it once a year. Sometimes, we all tend to forget the simplest and most obvious things and this book helps us remember the basic project management principles.

Don't be fooled by this 170 page lightweight, it packs quite a powerful punch! A lot of professionals who are not project managers have thanked me for recommending this book. It helped them understand what I do as a project manager without having to spend too much time. It may be an excellent idea to distribute copies of this very inexpensive book to members of your team so that it can enhance team communications.

If project management is your career, you should definitely move on to other books after finishing this book. You can keep the copy as an annual refresher though.

PMP: Project Management Professional Study Guide by Kim Heldman

Subject: Can use as a companion to the PMBOK Guide for the PMP.

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

The PMBOK Guide (by PMI) is essential in preparing for the PMP, but follows the 9 Knowledge Areas approach. The approach necessary to pass the test is the 5 Process Groups (plus Professional Responsibility) approach. This Study Guide takes the 5 Process Groups approach and hence clears the confusion one may experience in reading the PMBOK Guide. They also go into more depth than the PMBOK Guide as can be seen by the fact that the book has more than twice as many pages.

This Study Guide also has a CD-ROM with hundreds of practice questions (you can take 2 practice exams). The entire book is on the CD-ROM too. I have not tried their electronic flashcards for PCs and Palm Handhelds.

Considering everything that the book offers, it is a great buy at [this price]. Other CD-ROM software programs that offer practice tests are over $300. The only other book that will prove very useful on top of this book is Rita Mulcahy's 'PMP Exam Prep'. It is a bit more expensive but is of much higher quality in preparing for the PMP exam. This Study Guide is wonderful as a secondary preparation material to Rita's book. Read my reviews of her book to get more info on preparing for the PMP. I always use multiple study guides to get multiple perspectives when preparing for an exam. So, if you can afford it, I would recommend both books for your PMP preparation. But if you want to invest in only one study guide, I would say get Rita's PMP Exam Prep.

Good luck on the PMP!

The Juggler's Guide to Managing Multiple Projects by Michael Singer Dobson

Subject: Great job of identifying types of multiple projects.

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

We have all at one point or another in our Project Management careers, dealt with the issue of managing multiple projects. There is limited knowledge out there on how to manage multiple projects. Dobson starts out by identifying three different types of situations in which you may be managing multiple projects.

The first situation which he labels as 'Task Oriented Project Portfolio' deals with multiple projects that are very short in duration (a few hours of 1-2 days at most). The basic problem in this situation could be that there are a lot of these small projects and the PM has a full-time responsibilities on top of these projects.

The second situation is labeled 'Independent Project Portfolio' where there are a lot of similar type projects that are not related (no dependencies between the projects). The problem here is resource availability that is fixed but there ends the dependencies between the projects.

The third situation is called 'Interdependent Project Portfolio' where there are large projects with many small projects identified as tasks in the large projects. Here, the main problem is the different kinds of expertise that is demanded of the resources under the overall time constraints. An example of a move is utilized where it is a large project with many sub-projects that have time dependencies but are not related in content (computer setup, ordering utilities etc.).

Entrepreneurs in start up companies especially run into the first situation where there are so many of these small projects that the business owner is just plain overwhelmed. I have recently found myself in this situation and I was very thankful to read Dobson's book and apply the simple techniques and worksheets provided in the book.

Dobson briefly develops the circumstances surrounding each type of multiple project scenario and provides techniques and worksheets that a PM can use to manage in each situation. He also creates new definitions that apply in these individual scenarios.

This is not an in-depth treatment of the complexities involved in handling multiple projects. The book is only about 134 pages long. It is an expensive book but I would highly recommend any serious project manager to at least borrow the book from some PM library that you may have access to. Dobson also spends almost half the short book on explaining simple project management concepts like WBS, Gantt Charts, etc. that most project managers are already familiar with. Hence it makes for a very quick but valuable read. Don't miss out on these neat techniques. The ROI is very high.

Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques, Third Edition by Rory Burke and Val Joyce

Subject: Condensed Intermediate Text on Project Management.

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

This is an excellent treatment of the vast body of knowledge that comprises project management. The author does a great job of explaining all the principles of project management in sufficient enough detail for a new PM. Of course, it is not a thorough, in-depth treatment of the field and the author makes no such claims. There are examples and exercises used throughout that make the book even more valuable.

Even though this is an especially useful book for new project managers, I think even experienced ones will find some benefit by having it in their PM library. Refer to Dr. Harold Kerzner's book 'Project Management - A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling' for an advanced treatment of the subject. Refer to Rita Mulcahy's 'PMP Exam Prep' to prepare for the PMP exam. A good book for beginners is 'The Little Black Book of Project Management' by Michael Thomsett.

The only book I would say is comparable to this one at an Intermediate level is 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management' by Sunny Baker and Kim Baker. It is a slightly better book and less than a third of the price of this book! Bottom line, you can't go wrong with this book if you have the money to spend on it.

The Principles of Project Management - John R. Adams (Editor) et al.

Subject: Required reading for the PMP? NOT! A must buy though ...

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

This book used to be on PMI's recommended reading list for PMP preparation (I am not sure if it still is). The book does not use any complicated terminology and is written using an easy to read writing style. But the concepts will be easier to understand when you become an experienced project manager. If you read it at the beginning of your career, I recommend that you keep this in mind and not be disappointed. Just hold on to the copy and you will appreciate it later when you have more overall knowledge of project management.

The book is literally a compilation of 8 of the best papers on project management ever published. Hence the papers can be read independently. If you are a student at some University, you should be able to trace the individual papers to their source in your University library and print them at a much lower cost than the price of this book. The price was the only disappointment for me and since I am not a student, I couldn't do what I suggested above.

The eight different topics addressed by these papers in the book are -

1. Conflict Management
2. Contract Administration
3. Negotiating
4. Time and Stress Management
5. Team Building
6. PM Roles and Responsibilities
7. Organizational Development Approach
8. Organizing for Project Management

Based on my own personal background, I found the first five topics noted above the most interesting and the topic on Time and Stress Management the most useful. A lot of people I have talked to have not really found the time to read this book before taking the PMP but I would recommend reading it thoroughly once you have passed the PMP. I am finding that this book provides a very useful way to consolidate one's PM knowledge. PMI publishes 'Project Management Journal' and 'PM Network' on a regular basis that are also absolutely essential for any project manager. I have actually kept these publications from years back and they are one of the most prized possessions of my PM library. Enjoy reading these papers and the above mentioned publications!

PMP Challenge! by J. Leroy Ward

Subject: Half the battle in passing the PMP is definitions ...

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

One of the goals PMI has always pursued is to standardize the terminology in the Project Management field. Hence, it isn't surprising that a majority of the questions on the PMP either directly or indirectly test your understanding of numerous definitions found in the 'Guide to the PMBOK'.
One of the main benefits that this book 'PMP Challenge' provides is that it makes it really easy to learn and remember the various definitions on top of helping you recall them. This spiral bound, flash card style, Question & Answer book has hundreds of definitions on top of numerous Project Management concepts - the minimum you need to master in order to pass the PMP. This book CANNOT be used as a standalone product to help you pass the PMP. You need to at least use the 'Guide to the PMBOK' by PMI and 'PMP Exam Prep' by Rita Mulcahy on top of a comprehensive text book on Project Management to safely ensure that you get the PMP.

This book is great if used after you have an overall understanding of the Project Management field and are trying to master the definitions and concepts presented in the 'Guide to the PMBOK'. It is a terrific aid to test yourself and increase your ability to recall. For this purpose, it is a very complete tool. The spiral bound makes it easy to open anywhere in the book when you have a few minutes and quiz your brain. The flash card style makes it easy to test concepts and definitions independently. The Question & Answer style format keeps the PMP preparation interesting.

All 9 Knowledge Areas are covered (with 60 questions per section) and a 10th area covering Professional Responsibility is supposed to have been added in the latest edition (3rd Edition). There is cross referecing to the five Process Groups for each question to help you grasp the knowledge even better. The only thing I cringed at was the price. But if your company library has a copy, you are all set. Otherwise, I would recommend it if you are mainly experiencing a problem with definition and concept recall. This book is by no means sufficient for your PMP preparation because the toughest part of the PMP is the situational type questions that seem very subjective and the definitions/concepts are only half the battle. The price is the only reason that I rated this book at 4 stars. Good luck with the PMP!

Project Manager Competency Development Framework by Project Management Institute

Subject: Giant Checklist to improve your Project Management skills!

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

For the longest time, the main standard that PMI focussed on was the development of the 'Guide to the PMBOK'. The purpose of that Guide was to 'Improve the Performance of Projects'. There is another standard (on WBS) to achieve the same purpose.

In recent years, PMI has decided to address other goals like 'Improve the Performance of Project Personnel'. It is towards achieving this end that the standard 'Project Management Competency Development (PMCD) Framework' was developed. An exposure draft was released recently and this book is that exposure draft in it's entirety. PMI is now accepting comments on this exposure draft and a final version will be released soon based on the feedback.

PMI has done a fantastic job in creating this standard. It is very usable, much more than the 'Guide to the PMBOK'. It is only 108 pages long out of which the main standard is only 70 pages long. The rest is Appendices that outline the process followed in developing the standard and a glossary of terms. Even in these 70 pages, the first 12 pages are the main material to be read. These 12 pages describe everything you need to know about the PMCD framework and how to use it. The next 58 pages are nothing but a giant checklist that you can use in assessing your project management competencies and coming up with a plan to fill any gaps you may have. These 58 pages will be the most used pages in your project management career.

The basic idea in the standard is that there are three areas of competencies that a project manager needs to be concerned with - PM Knowledge, PM Performance, and PM Personal Competencies. When a project manager improves in these three areas, the projects will see an improvement in their success too. These three competencies are further split into multiple sub-sections and described in sufficient detail.

A great way to use this standard is to read the standard cover to cover and come up with an individualized plan for oneself. I am currently in the process of coming up with this plan for myself and I plan on maintaining it for a year before revamping it. The print function on this electronic file is supposed to be disabled but it wasn't disabled on my download. I am currently contacting PMI to alert them of this so they can fix it. All their other standards that you can download have their print functionality disabled.

Even otherwise, this book has a very small price to pay considering the benefits. How many other professions have such a logical and systematic approach that is documented in 70 pages to improve your skills? Overall, this is a standard that has been long overdue in the Project Management profession. There could be changes to this draft over the next couple of years as PMI gets feedback from people like yourself after you start using this framework and find room for improvement. Enjoy this valuable book!

Project Management Institute Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures by Project Management Institute

Subject: Every Project Manager needs the info on pages 11-18.

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

If you just read Chapter 4 (pages 11-18, that's 8 pages) of this book, you can glean the essence of this entire 80 page book. This chapter contains valuable details relating to creating a WBS. This chapter explains the process of coming up with a WBS for your project. This information is not availabe at this level of detail in many other books. And more importantly, these details came out after an extensive effort by PMI (this effort is described in Appendix A-D). No project manager can afford to do work without being familiar with the information in this book. The first three chapters are short and serve as an introduction to what a WBS is and it's value on any project. If you are a PMP, you already know this information and you can gloss over these chapters. If you are new to project management, these first three chapters are as valuable as the fourth chapter because they lay the foundation for understanding how to do a WBS.

Appendix E-O outline sample WBS for different industries. I am familiar with the Web Design and Software Development fields and I can definitely say that these are too basic to be of any use unless you are a new project manager in these fields. I cannot speak to the value of the sample WBS for other industries but I am guessing you would probably have access to better sample WBS in your own company. There are vendors like IIL (International Institute of Learning) selling better templates of these WBS in the form of project schedules for various industries. It may be worthwhile looking in that direction if you are trying to collect these.

The whole book is a free Acrobat download from PMI if you are a member. The print function on this download is disabled though so if you want a copy for your desk collection, you have to buy this print edition.

As a final note, this is a very valuable contribution from PMI. I have visited too many clients where project schedules are glorified 'task lists' derived from wishful thinking. These then get put on a calendar and the client is satisfied that they have a 'project plan'. I had always wished that somebody had already educated the clients on the importance of a deliverable driven approach to project planning (WBS serves this function). As a project manager working for a consulting company, it becomes your job to do this. I plan on using this book as a baseline to achieve this purpose (hand out a copy to the client and take it from there). This book is simple enough that I believe it would accomplish the purpose.

So, at the very least, download the electronic copy and buy this print edition when you get a chance. I hope you found the information in this review helpful. And more importantly, I hope you find the information in the book even more helpful (as I did). Good luck!

PM FASTrack: PMP Exam Simulation Software by Rita Mulcahy

Subject: Over 1300 practice questions. Similar to the actual test.

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

After comparing some of the most popular PMP preparation software programs, I found this software to be one of the better ones in the market. There are a few limitations to this software but in my opinion, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

The main advantage is that PM Fastrack takes a Process Group approach as opposed to a Knowledge Area approach and this alone can single-handedly influence whether you are going to pass the PMP. In addition, PM Fastrack is probably the largest repository of exam practice questions you can find in any product. I have looked at several products (software and books) and not found any that has more questions than this product.

The thing I liked the most about PM Fastrack is that the questions on the CD-ROM very closely resemble the actual test questions. The resemblence is in more ways than one - nature of questions, phrasing of questions, length etc. In a couple of instances, I even saw an exact repeating of the questions from this product. I don't know how it happened, but it did.

There are a few things I didn't like about the software. If you are into software development, you will instantly recognize that good HCI principles were NOT followed in designing this software. In one instance, I lost the results of 3 hours of work that I did because I clicked on a button that had misleading instructions. In case you are wondering, I am not new to using computer software.

But I am guessing you aren't looking for good HCI or usability when evaluating a software to buy that will help you pass the PMP. So, I think if you mentally prepare yourself for not liking these aspects of the software, then you may not find these problems as annoying as I did. Ignoring the disadvantages, you can't go wrong with this software in preparing for the PMP. The software is more useful if you use it along with 'PMP Exam Prep' by Rita Mulcahy also. Good luck with passing the PMP!

Hot Topics: Audio Way to Get Ready For the PMP Exam (Abridged) by Rita Mulcahy

Subject: You may remember the definitions forever after listening.

Rating: 5/5 Excellent.

The CD contains numerous definitions and a few basic concepts read aloud by a professional speaker.

I received this audio CD when I purchased the book 'PMP Exam Prep' by Rita Mulcahy and PM Fastrack (software). This audio CD is excellent in mastering the definitions and basic concepts from the 'Guide to the PMBOK' by PMI which is the official syllabus for the PMP. One of the main problems in passing the PMP is the situational questions that comprise a majority of the questions on the test. These questions seem very subjective but once you understand the definitions thoroughly, half the problem is solved.

That's where this audio CD comes in. After you have had a chance to read the 'PMP Exam Prep' by Rita Mulcahy, you can start listening to this audio CD whenever you have a few minutes. I played the 87 minute CD for about half an hour each night before going to bed. I have successfully used this technique in a lot of tests where you need to memorize definitions. If you play the CD about 2-3 times before taking the test, you should be able to recall the definitions very easily. If you play it a couple more times, I am guessing you will never forget the definitions.

The CD has a few basic project management concepts on top of the definitions. The voice is not that of Rita Mulcahy but of a professional speaker. The price seems a bit [high] and some people have preferred the book version of 'Hot Topics' for the value provided. I have personally reviewed another product, 'PMP Exam Challenge' by J. Leroy Ward in book form and liked it also. But the superiority of HEARING these definitions on an audio CD is hard to match in any book. This is because when you both HEAR and READ a concept or definition, it is more likely to permanently etch itself in your brain than otherwise. Of course, the strongest etching occurs when you use audio, video, book, and some form of interactivity in your learning.

If you get a chance, read my review on 'PMP Exam Prep' where I wrote about my PMP exam experience. You may find it helpful in preparing for the PMP exam. ... Rita Mulcahy is President & Founder of RMC Project Management that published this audio CD. The best of luck to you in passing the PMP exam!

Project Management Case Studies by Harold Kerzner

Subject: Long awaited book. Most useful if you are an experienced PM.

Rating: 4/5 Very Good.

Classes that use Case studies seem to be common at the Harvard Business School but apparently not in the Project Management world. This is a long awaited book containing Case Studies from a respected author and Project Management guru. A detailed analysis of the Pros and Cons of this book follows:

First, a summary of what is contained in the book - 437 pages objectively documenting 68 real life Case Studies spanning the last 20 to 30 years and 1 very neat Time Management exercise at the end. The Case Studies are typically 3-4 pages long with a couple that are 40-50 pages long and a few that are only 1 page long. The Case Studies are roughly divided into 16 Chapters that don't necessarily follow the Process Groups or Knowledge Areas in the PMBOK Guide (PMI). Example chapter names are 'Negotiating for Resources', 'Project Estimating', and 'Project Planning'. Each chapter starts with a 1 page summary of the author's opinion on that topic - no more, no less! The Case Studies themselves sound like factual description of what happened with absolutely no judgment or analysis following any of the Case Studies.

Since I like to end a review on a good note, the CONS first - the blurb on the back of the book makes three claims out of which two are clearly suspect. The claim regarding the Case Studies covering a wide range of industries is definitely true. The claim regarding 'follows and supports preparation for the PMP certification exam' is not supported by the content in the book. The only way this claim would come true is if you attended a class led by a very competent instructor that can glean the relevant points from these Case Studies and present what you need to pass the PMP. The Instructor's manual is ONLY available through the publisher directly if you represent a University teaching Project Management curriculum. The third claim is regarding the book presenting the best practices and pitfalls of PM implementations in the real world. For this claim to be true, one would expect discussions of the Case Studies presented in the book by the author and a summary of lessons learned so you can understand what these best practices and pitfalls are. Without the best practices and pitfalls EXPLICITLY stated, how do you know for sure what they are? Isn't the assumption that you don't know them, one of the reasons for reading the book? Anyway, this does not happen anywhere in the book except very briefly and indirectly at the beginning of each of the 16 chapters (1 page per chapter).

The language used is sometimes hard to interpret. I was thrown off track quite a few times by some ambiguous statements and I had to read them carefully a second time to interpret them correctly. I have not noticed this problem with other Kerzner books. There are also quite a few typos and grammatical errors that may be common for a First Edition.

The last CON - I really wish the book had an extra 200-300 pages of Kerzner's interpretations of these Case Studies and his opinions of how things should have been handled. I would have paid three to five times the price of this book if that had been included. Oh, well. I will sign up for one of his classes.

Okay, the PROS - there aren't many books on Project Management that have real world Case Studies. And definitely not as valuable as the ones presented in this book. For this reason alone, this book is worth a LOT more than its price. And to top everything, these Case Studies are presented in a very objective way so that you can try to see things the way they really are and engage in educational discussions with a group of experienced professionals to gain not just PM knowledge but PM WISDOM.

The time management exercise (about 24 pages) is one of the best sections in the entire book. It is simple, yet worth spending time on. The Case Studies of the Denver Airport (under the Managing Scope Changes Chapter) and the Space Shuttle Challenger (under the Project Risk Management Chapter) are probably the most valuable Case Studies (in my opinion). These are the Case Studies that are 40 and 50 pages respectively that I mention at the beginning of the review.

The Preface carries a very important observation (and message) regarding how these basic project management mistakes are still being repeated even 20-30 years later in modern day corporations. This is very profound as it implies that these mistakes can be avoided by Project Managers that learn from the past mistakes made by other corporations (from these Case Studies). It is amazing that something so simple has not happened in the Project Management profession even after all these years.

I have treasured this book since the day I received it and I am looking forward to joining a local group of experienced Project Managers (meaning the Austin chapter of the PMI) to discuss and learn from these Case Studies. A definite buy AFTER obtaining the PMP Certification. In my opinion, it will only confuse the reader who is focussed on passing the exam to read these Case Studies that don't have any analysis associated or references to the PMP exam (I didn't find the word PMP anywhere between the covers of this book).

I hope you found this long and objective review helpful and that you benefit from these Case Studies.





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