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Getting Started in Project Management

Project management, the process of guiding a project from the beginning through the middle to the end is indeed very taxing. This is because the project manager coordinates other professionals to achieve results. It is therefore a big intellectual relief that Paula Martin and Karen Tate, two project management experts, have proffered a solution in this text entitled "Getting Started in Project Management".

Martin is the chief executive officer of MartinTate, a management consulting and training company. Martin is the co-author of six books. She works with project teams to help them improve on performance. Martin has been a consultant on issues related to improving organizational performance for more than ten years.

Tate is the president of MartinTate as well as a project management professional. She has more than 20 years of project management experience and teaches project management to teams in organizations around the world. According to Martin and Tate, project management is a valuable component of both professional and personal life.

They educate that whether you are working on an international project for a Fortune 500 company or organizing a family reunion, project management is essential to ensuring timely and efficient completion of any project.

Martin and Tate remark that if you are new to project management, you are definitely not alone. They say lots of people are discovering that project management is a tool that can help make their projects more successful.

These authors illuminate that for many people, working on a project can be frustrating as team members refuse to agree on what should be done or how to do it and deadlines are missed. Martin and Tate however stress that projects can be both fun and successful if you use an effective method for helping your work through the steps of the project.

Using their Collaborative, Open architecture, Results-oriented and Easy-to-use Project Management methodology called "CORE Project Management methodology" for short, these authors offer a foundation for anyone willing to learn or enhance his or her project management skills.

Martin and Tate identify four phases of project management as project initiation, planning, execution and close-out. They say besides outlining the project management process, this text teaches you how to utilize the tools that drive it.
Martin and Tate submit that you will also learn in this text, the seven keys to project management success; different approaches to the process; how to assess risk and avoid pitfalls by identifying them early; scheduling and budgeting techniques that will keep your project on time and on the money.

Structurally, this text is segmented into 14 chapters. Chapter one is entitled to "The basics". According to these authors here, before we can begin our journey through the land of project management, we need to cover a few basics. The first question we need to address is, "What exactly is project?" In the words of these authors, "For example, is building a custom house a project? What if you're a developer and you have a crew that builds a standard house over and over again? Is that a project?"

Martin and Tate say obviously, projects and business processes are not the same thing. They educate that project management is a set of tools, techniques and knowledge that, when applied, will help you produce better results for your project. Martin and Tate add that trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play football without a game plan. "The coach would get the players together and say, 'How should we play this game? We're supposed to get more points than the other team and to do that we have to score goals. Now everyone go out and do what you think needs to be done in order to win ', "stress these experts.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of initiating a project. Here, these authors educate that the first phase of a project, which is called "initiation", begins after management decides to author the the project. According to them, the goal of initiation is to set the direction for your project and define any constraints on the project.

They add that both project direction and constraints should come from the sponsor, because the sponsor is the management person who is accountable for ensuring that the project meets the strategic goals of the organization and that the benefits of the project outweigh its costs. Martin and Tate say the direction and constraints for the project are outlined in a document called the "charter" and this document is the responsibility of the sponsor.

They add that however, many sponsors either do not know how to write a charter or claim not to have the time to do so. Martin and Tate say as a result, it is very probable that you will find yourself writing the charter for the sponsor and then have the sponsor review and approve it when you are through.

These authors stress that in the customer-needs section of your charter, you are trying to define the real reason why the project is being undertaken for the customers.

In chapters three to nine, Martin and Tate examine concepts such as leading the project team; kicking off the project; planning the scope; organizing the project; assessing risk; developing a schedule and developing a budget.

Chapter 10 is entitled "Assembling the project plan". According to these authors, after the planning activities, it is time to assemble the plan. Martin and Tate add that the project plan is the output of the planning phase. They educate that it captures the information you have compiled with the team and lays out how the project will be executed. In their words, "If the charter represents the expectations and wishes for the project, the project plan represents the projected reality. Therefore, it's the plan that you will use to guide the project as you move forward into execution."

These experts also discuss the scope plan. They educate that the scope plan defines what will be produced for the customers, adding that in order to produce the final deliverable, you have to organize the work of the project. Martin and Tate say you need to break down the final deliverable into interim deliverables and someone in the team is assigned accountability for each one.

They add that then, you define the sub-projects and assign each deliverable to a sub-project. These experts guide that finally, you need to make sure you have the right people in the team. They stress that you now assess the skills you need to create the deliverables and review your list of citizens to make sure they have representation in the team or a team member liaison assigned to keep them involved in the project.

In chapters 11 to 14, Martin and Tate analytically X-ray concepts such as team-based tools; executing the plan; closing out the project and summing up.

Stylistically, this text is fantastic. The language is simple, embroidered with standard punctuation while the 14 chapters are brilliantly handled. What's more, Martin and Tate make use of an acronym by collapsing their Collaborative, Open architecture, Results-oriented and Easy-to-use Project Management Methodology into CORE Project Management Methodology for short. This is a conceptual amplification and creative structural compression. They employ graphics, especially the one on the outside front cover, to achieve visual enhancement of readers' understanding. The layout of the text is also visually appealing.

However, some concepts are repeated in this text. Probably these authors deliberately use this style to create emphasis and ensure long memory on readers' part. It is also written in Standard American English. That is why you have "… someone on the team …" (page 156), instead of the Standard British English "… Someone in the team …", etc.

On a note of analytical finality, this text is intellectually revealing. It is a must-read for those who want to achieve success in project implementation.

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