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Project management : a benefit realisation approach
Zwikael O., Smyrk J., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2019. 337 pp. Type: Book (978-3-030031-73-2)
Date Reviewed: May 6 2020

Project management is not a new discipline. It has been studied for ages, with many examples from the past. The pyramids are a good example of the very first project management initiatives, for instance. The main difference is that, nowadays, there are entities that certify professionals and organizations according to their standards.

The first signs of project management as a concept appeared in 1953, through the US military aerospace sector. The development of planning and evaluation research techniques (PERT) and the critical path method (CPM) were first attempts by the US military and Dupont, respectively, to create tools for effective project management.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, studies on the integration of projects within organizations began to draw the attention of academics. Studies on integration and differentiation were developed. It is important to note that these theories about integrating concern for people’s needs with project objectives were not well absorbed by organizations that rarely used them. This is still the reality today, where social/psychological issues are rarely included and the role of project manager continues to be that of planner, organizer, leader, and controller.

The first initiatives to standardize the role of project manager emerged in 1969 with the Project Management Institute (PMI), and shortly thereafter, in 1972, the International Management Systems Association (also known as INTERNET, and currently called the International Project Management Association), with several European project management associations emerging at the same time.

The Project Resource Organization Management Planning Technique (PROMPTII), a project management method, was created by Simpact Systems Limited in 1975, after winning a “bid” involving several entities that proposed methods for project management, and adopted in 1979 by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) as a standard for use in all British government information technology (IT) projects. PROMPTII was replaced by Projects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE) in 1989, and became part of the United Kingdom (UK) Office of Government Commerce (OGC) as a British government standard for IT project management.

In 2013, Capita plc established a joint venture with OCG on a 51 percent basis, 49 percent generating a return of £500 million for British taxpayers. In 1996, the document called PRINCE2 was launched to replace PRINCE, now with a generalist focus. In 1998, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) published its IPMA Competence Baseline. The PRINCE2 methodology is owned by the OGC, but the method is in the public domain.

The 1990s were crucial in the development of standards for project management. In 1996, the Project Management Institute (PMI) published A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide), which is a reference in the study of best practices in project management and is updated every four years: “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements” [1].

Zwikael and Smyrk introduce a new model for project management, “a complete project management toolkit for project leaders in business, research, and industry.” The premise is very tempting because most project management books try to rewrite existing standards such as the PMBOK guide.

The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 is a conceptual framework, with eight chapters; and Part 2, with four chapters, is about leading a project. Chapter 1 shows that there are a lot of methodologies, techniques, and tools that need to be studied more to find their real benefit(s). Chapter 2 presents two models: input–process–output (IPO) and input-transform-outcome (ITO). ITO is very well explained in chapter 3, with another interesting element from project management, that is, a project doesn’t end with delivery or outputs, but continues until target outcomes are secured.

Chapter 4 discusses project and program governance alongside the project management office (PMO) and alternative models for coordinated projects. Chapter 5 discusses stakeholders, for example, distinguishing between spontaneous and commissioned stakeholders. Chapter 6 is about managing risks. Chapter 7, “Projects Attractiveness,” presents project funding analysis as benefits, disbenefits, and cost evaluation, including calculations of return on investment (ROI), net present value (NPV), and other indicators of financial wealth. Chapter 8, “Project Success,” presents a general framework for handling projects successfully.

Part 2 is about project management practices. Its four complementary chapters include templates for applying the presented concepts. Appendix A covers common project management terms, Appendix B defines roles in project governance, and Appendix C explores “questions for future research.”

This is a great book because it shows the “why” and “how” of real project management. There are some academic problems, for example, tables showing factors and indicators without the period or dates of data collection. Also, PMBOK is incorrectly included as a methodology--PMBOK is actually a book edited by PMI as a knowledge body where specialists can produce a methodology as they want. This is different from PRINCE2, for example, which is a real methodology, providing a project management roadmap. Another error: Section 2.5.5, mentioned in, doesn’t exist. Besides these typographical errors, I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants a new view of project management without being inundated with methodologies.

Reviewer:  Agliberto Alves Cierco Review #: CR146962 (2009-0221)
1) A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA, 1996.
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