PM Crash Course for IT Professionals - A good book for IT projects?

Back in 2009, when I've first heard about 'PM Crash Course for IT Professionals: Real-World Project Management Tools and Techniques for IT Initiatives', by Rita Mulcahy and Martha L. Young, could not help but be excited. The book seemed to be an interesting read for project managers working on IT projects and I really wanted to learn more from Rita Mulcahy's experience on this type of projects. Therefore I ordered the book and read it as soon as I've found some time. Does this book manage to be a good guide for IT project managers? Read this review to find out.

PM Crash Course = PMBOK Light with a focus on IT

The first thing that struck me while reading the first chapters of the book is the fact that it's created to be a light version of the PMBOK guide and its process and knowledge areas table.

The book goes through all the processes and highlights the important parts of each - the ones that must not be missed by any project manager. For each process, you get a brief description of what it means, what you have to do and you get a series of project management professionals (mostly PMP certified) sharing real-life tips which can be useful in certain situations.

Everything in the book makes a lot of sense, some of the tips are actually interesting and would consider following them in some of my future projects. However, except these tips, there is nothing really new in this book compared to the PMP Certification literature.

PM Crash Course

Exercises, Action Plans, Templates

Another theme in the book is action. In each chapter you get exercises which make you think about what would be best to do in certain scenarios which are likely to happen in real life. Then you can compare your answers with the recommendations coming from the authors of the book. You also get quick templates (for example: issue log, project charter, WBS Dictionary, Risk Register, etc) which you can quickly adapt and use on your projects. Then, at the end of each chapter there's an action plan which aims to help you improve your approach and remember the key recommendations from each chapter.

Personally I liked the simplicity of the approach taken by the authors: share a bit of theory, real-life tips, templates, make the reader exercise, think, give him/her alternatives to his answers and have him/her create an action plan about what he/she would change as a project management approach. You might think it is old-school but it works most of the time.

Interviews with IT Executives

At the end of the book you also get a few interviews with executives (and sometimes former project managers) from different companies such as: CH2M Hill, Clickthrough, Evolution Technology Group (ETG), Procter & Gamble (Global Business Services division) and SunGard Higher Education. In these interviews people share the project management approach taken by their companies and a few tips and recommendations they have for project managers reading the book. Certain bits of these interviews were interesting but, at the end, couldn't help thinking that these people mostly said how important project management is to their companies and how their companies encourage people to get specialized in this field. Don't we all know project management is or should be important to almost any company?

Verdict - Buy for Beginners, Skip for Experienced Project Managers

The verdict for this book is not that easy to give. It depends a lot from which perspective you look at this book. If you are new to project management, then this book is a good and useful read. Its simplicity and focus on templates, tips and action will definitely help you understand the basics you must get right on your projects. Therefore, would recommend all beginners to buy this book.

However, if you are PMP certified or an experienced project manager who read some project management literature - you won't really find anything new in this book. Except a few useful tips from other project managers and certain bits in the interviews at the end of the book, there's nothing else to truly capture your interest.

Table of Contents & Purchasing Options

If you want to know more about the contents of the book, check out its table of contents (PDF download). If you want to purchase it, you can find it on Amazon US (for North American readers) or Amazon UK (for European readers). If you purchase it using these links, we will also receive a small commission from your purchase. Therefore, thanks a lot for that.

Related content:

Head First PMP, 2nd Edition - Review based on Personal Experience
The Project Manager - Mastering the Art of Delivery
The Art of Agile Development - Learning How To Manage Software Development Projects


A clear review - is there a PM for experienced IT professionals book you would recommend? I'm less interested in the classic tools, which as you point out there are many books on. I'm more interested in advanced tips and techniques from experienced practitioners.

Except Richard Newton's book, recommended at the bottom of this review, I don't have any other suggestions yet.
Started an interesting read this week, will publish an article about it once finished.

I would recommend Rita's books to anyone who's seriously going for a PMP certification or who wants to continue PMP certification. 'Crash Course' is for the novice. However, it is a practical, up to date, informational study in a condensed overview of the PMPBOK methodology. Everyone has their favorites but I've found Rita's team most effective in disecting this methodology. You'll make the right choice with 'Crash Course' if you're looking for a guide to wet your appetite and give you a true introduction to the field of Project Management as it pertains not only to the PMBOK but also reality.

it is a practical, up to date, informational study in a condensed overview of the PMPBOK methodology. Everyone has their favorites but I've found Rita's team most effective in disecting this methodology.

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