Target Audience: The author is a PMP, president of a consulting firm, and a project management consultant & trainer to government agencies and commercial corporations. Her book is aimed at “the reader who has never been introduced to the integrated process of cost and schedule control but is willing to learn . . . [and] . . . the more experienced project manager who would like to learn something new or something he or she has never thought of in this manner before.”[Preface xxv.]
She succeeds admirably on the first count, but there is little substantively “new” – i.e. beyond the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) -- about Cost & Schedule Control for the experienced project manager; although I did discover a couple of interesting gems therein. Nevertheless, her organized “cookbook” approach and lucid presentation of the project management process -- replete with useful check lists and “How to” examples -- is an excellent guide and ready reference manual for anyone involved in effective integrated performance monitoring.
Moreover, her bullet-type checklists throughout, and innovative flow charts heading each major Part depicting the overlapping phases and processes of project management are superior to the PMBOK Guide's encyclopedic approach with its jargon, acronyms and innumerable flowcharts. Indeed, the Project Management Institute (PMI® would do well to adopt her project management process flow charts (Part 2, p. 22; Part 3, p. 76; Part 4, p. 185, & Part 5, p. 303) in their forthcoming 5th Edition – or subsequent editions -- of the PMBOK Guide.
Ursula’s concept that a Program “. . . goes beyond the completion of the individual deliverables, through the operation and support of the deliverables, to what is often called the ‘end of service life’ of the deliverables” (p. 5) is a stretch beyond PMI’s classic definition – and probably that of most private sector project managers and contractors whose projects terminate and responsibilities end upon – or shortly after delivery and closeout. Nevertheless it is well-attuned to the public sector model as the responsibilities of government program managers often extend to “sustainability” for the indefinite future.
Her rationale for -- and explanation of -- a deliverable-oriented work breakdown structure (p. 18 & 19) is also clear and concise, and worthy of emulation rather than the wide variety of forms one often encounters. Her discussion of productivity, factors and approach for estimating work package costs (pp. 51-56) is another previously undiscovered gem for me.
I am well-acquainted with the traditional “PERT” ‘3-factor formula’ to estimate risk and probable activity duration. However, Ursula’s protocol of “considering two or three things that could go wrong while completing the work package” (p. 47) and how long it would take to complete the work package if all of them happen – rather than simply the “pessimistic case” -- is a new and useful technique for me to adopt.
In short, “Integrated Cost & Schedule Control” is an “easy read;” is particularly useful for "newbies" to understand (and apply on-the-job) before tackling the more esoteric PMBOK Guide to prepare for their PMP or CAPM exam. It is also a “gold mine” of ready reference material for experienced project managers and their support staff! There may also be a couple of nuggets for other old dogs to discover &/or “new tricks” to learn!
Editor's Note: Thanks Ken! Readers, if you would like to comment to Ken or to us about this review, please contact us!
Overall Rating: 4.0 (out of 5): Dr. Kenneth F. Smith, PMP.
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