Project Planning, Scheduling, and Control

project planning scheduling and control james p lewisProject Planning, Scheduling, and Control: A Hands-On Guide to Bringing Projects in On Time and On Budget (Third Edition) by James P. Lewis, 4/5

This straight-forward book provides a lot of common sense advice and widely-applicable guidelines for project management.  It is easy to understand, even for someone with no experience in the subject (such as myself).  Since I was reading more for recreational purposes than practical, I would have enjoyed more anecdotes; the author obviously has a lot of experience and probably some wild stories to tell, but generally refrains from giving too-specific scenarios that would encourage his readers to focus on details and miss out on the larger concepts.

Probably the most interesting thing I got from this book is Lewis’ definition of the concept of “Control”:

Control is exercised by comparing where you are to where you are supposed to be so that corrective action can be taken when there is a deviation from target (526).

If there is no plan, there can, by definition, be no control.  This is a concept that I sort of came to on my own, through teaching my brother writing (you don’t know anything about control until you try to get a kid to write a paper), but I hadn’t really put it into words.

Another interesting concept is the difference between closed-ended and open-ended problems.  According to Lewis, closed-ended problems have only one possible solution, are past-oriented and benefit from an analytical, left-brained approach.  Open-ended problems, on the other hand, have more than one possible solution, are future-oriented, and respond best to a right-brained, synthetic approach (123).  This might seem very obvious to some people, but it just wasn’t on my radar.  Reading about the two types of problem made me realise that I tend to treat everything in my life like a closed-ended problem.

I would recommend this book to anyone considering project management as a career; Lewis speaks frankly about the responsibilities and challenges inherent to the work, as well as the type of person who might find success in it. I am not that type of person, apparently, since Lewis advises not to get into the career if you tend to think “Projects would be okay if you could just get people to be logical!” (35), a cry that is basically the theme song of all my social interactions…

My only complaint about the book is the large amount of space it wastes with huge, pointless illustrations of the odious “clip art + direct quote from the text” variety.  Also, I would be interested to read a more recent, updated version.

[Why I read it: Dad borrowed it from a bookshelf at his work and brought it home for me to read.]



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