Whether you’re a project manager now, or you aspire to become one, anyone who’s established a successful career in the field will tell you the same thing: you can never stop learning. Project management is a complicated yet fulfilling career, but the best part is that there’s always room for growth. Project management is an art that requires a lot of balance, skill and effective strategizing. And as projects evolve or you work in different fields, the requirements also change.
Almost every major project executed these days involves resources and expertise from people of different domains. For example, say an organization wants to manufacture electric cars. This project would require experts from the fields of electrical engineering, electronics, mechanical engineering, marketing, supply chain, and manufacturing. Now, you’d make sure that everyone works in sync and on time. As the project manager, it would be up to you to ensure that the final goal is achieved.
So it’s safe to say there’s a lot to learn and you could never get bored in this role.
To help you out, we’ve created a list of resources to help you become the absolute best project manager possible. First we’re going to dive into the 7 types of project management, and then we’ve created a list of 9 must-read project management books for you.
Types of Project Management
Project management can be grouped into seven main types:
Waterfall- This is the oldest model of project management where the entire project is divided into a series of linear, sequential phases. No phase can begin unless the previous phase has ended, and once completed, you can’t revisit a phase. This method’s good for projects that have structure and predictability; but projects usually take longer to finish in this model. Also, if a bug is detected down the line, the whole project needs to be redone.
Agile- Agile project management is much faster than the conventional waterfall method. Every project is broken down into smaller chunks called sprints and start-to-end phases are revisited frequently with all the teams. This allows for frequent feedback from cross-functional teams, reducing the chances of bugs or issues at the later phase of the project. Almost all issues are addressed beforehand, which makes this method faster and highly adaptable.
Scrum- Scrum is a type of agile project management that works best for small, cross-functional teams who want to finish a project fast. All the issues are addressed in scrum meetings which allows for faster problem-resolution. This style is best suited for short-term projects.
Kanban- Kanban, although it’s an agile management strategy, focuses more on organization management than time-management. It deals with the number of tasks that go in a process, and how they can be cut down and streamlined. It’s more suitable for a factory-output environment.
Lean- Lean's also an agile methodology similar to Kanban because it deals with processes and tasks. It involves keeping a customer-first mindset. It’s concerned with how processes can be stripped down to reduce waste and deliver affordable, timely products that customers love. It allows for greater efficiency and process control, which usually results in a higher-quality outcome.
Six Sigma- This employs statistical and empirical principles to manage the quality of outputs and to streamline overall business operations.
PRINCE2- PRINCE2's generally employed by private organizations who work in government sectors. It breaks a project down into manageable stages by focusing on how a product moves through the team from conception to delivery. One step is tackled at a time, which minimizes risks and errors and improves efficiency.
Scope of Project Management
With the growth of organizations, production units, and the advent of cross-functional teams, project management has become an indispensable tool. PMI (Project Management Institute) reports that the demand for project managers through 2027 will increase faster than other occupations. Industries with the highest level of project management growth include healthcare, manufacturing and construction, information services and publishing, finance and insurance, management and professional services, utilities, and oil and gas.
Our 9 Favorite Project Management Books
As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to continue to learn no matter what stage you’re in as a project manager. So, here are 9 of our recommendations for the most useful project management books.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK® Guide (Sixth Edition)’- The PMBOK book serves as the standard textbook for those preparing for the PMI certification. Though this book is technical and can be tough to read, it’s expansive, thorough, and authoritative. The sixth edition is the latest in the series and reflects all the changes and updates needed for the PMP certification. Even if you’re not taking the certification, this guide is full of information you should know.
Project Management- An Absolute Beginner’s Guide, by Greg Horine- If you don’t want to read anything too complicated, this is a stripped-down version of the PMBOK Guide. This book is for relatively new professionals in the field of project management. It covers the whole project management cycle, but the focus is on planning, control, and execution of a project. It also includes tips on how to use the latest MS Project Software and has overview charts as a guide. The cons of this book are that it lacks solid examples and practical on-the-job advice.
Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done, by Brett Harned, Greg Storey, and Deb Aoki- This book takes a more personalized approach to project management. The authors discuss personal stories and what they’ve learnt in their career. They also offer practical advice for the successful completion of projects. They discuss that in addition to tactical basics like estimating and planning projects, it also helps to learn soft skills like empathy and communication, which are vital for project management. This book is written in a conversational style and is easy to read. However, the main focus of the book is on digital project management.
Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management, by Scott Berkun- This critically acclaimed bestseller is written by Scott Berkun, who has spent over a decade as a project manager for big tech companies. This book is a comprehensive and practical guide that’s suited for beginners in the field. The book comprises of essays on field-tested approaches, and outlines strategies for defining, leading, and managing projects. Complex concepts and complicated theories are simplified and explained with practical examples. Although this book gives examples of projects in the software and web development domains, it’s easy for both technical and non-technical audiences to understand. There’s also a separate chapter dedicated to the resolution of issues and bugs at various project stages. Overall, this book offers several inspirational techniques to tackle big PM challenges.
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland- Jeff Sutherland is the co-creator of the scrum methodology. This book talks about how scrum improves the shortcomings of traditional project management methods. The set of agile practices and increased collaboration can boost productivity and quality by as much as 1200 percent. Though this number might seem like a stretch, it’s been observed that regardless of the industry type, following the scrum method has yielded huge improvements in productivity. This book is recommended for those who are already in the field of project management or are at least familiar with the traditional project methodologies.
Brilliant Project Management, by Stephen Barker- This book is a quick refresher course in advanced project management. It offers memorable illustrations of common challenges faced while working with big, cross-functional teams; or while planning crucial projects without getting bogged down by theoretical principles. It gives you tips on how to stay on schedule and budget while also delivering quality projects.
Project Management Jump Start, by Kim Heldman- Written by a PMP with over twenty years of experience in project management, it’s one of the best introductory guides for aspiring PM professionals. It helps you understand essential fundamentals, and covers topics related to project initiation up to closing. It also has sample forms and checklists that can be used for projects.
Project Management Lite: Just Enough to Get the Job Done…Nothing More, by Juana Clark Craig- This book is recommended for beginners in the PM field. It’s written as an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide. It’s written in plain terminology without complex jargon commonly used in other books on the subject. Also, it provides worksheets and checklists for easy execution of projects.
Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, by Harold Kerzner- Dr. Kerzner’s book is also one of the standard textbooks for students of PM as well as for professionals preparing for the PMP certification exam. It contains a comprehensive set of project management principles and practices, and the latest edition has 30 sections on different PM processes, including types of project closure, sponsorship, and teamwork.
While there are many ways to kick off a career in project management – like taking a bootcamp or getting a certification – your journey can start with an Amazon shopping cart. Taking even just 10 minutes per day to read books from the pros could help you become a more effective Project Manager and put you on track for senior positions.