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It Sounded Good When We Started: A Project Manager's Guide to Working with People on Projects

ISBN: 978-0-471-48586-5
344 pages
November 2003, Wiley-IEEE Computer Society Press
It Sounded Good When We Started: A Project Manager
A common-sense guide to real-world project management

Common sense isn't always commonly practiced. Anyone who's ever worked on a project in a technical setting knows this. Indeed, much of working with others consists of solving unexpected problems and learning from mistakes along the way.

It Sounded Good When We Started: A Project Manager's Guide to Working with People on Projects provides essential reading for project managers trying to understand the trials and triumphs that can arise in any project setting. The authors, both respected project managers with sixty years of experience between them, describe their own mistakes as well as the many valuable lessons they drew from them. Instead of trying to formulate these in abstract theory, Phillips and O’Bryan tell the stories surrounding a particular project, providing a more memorable, real-world, and practical set of examples.

Written in a distinctly nontechnical style, this is a general troubleshooting guide for people who work on projects together. As such, its content proves useful in many different settings and applies to many different kinds of endeavors. Most of the stories are about problems—since it's the problems we often remember more than the successes—and what was learned from them. After describing a given problem, the authors analyze the issues that led to it and work towards various ways they've discovered to create a better project environment, one where problems get solved easier and happen less frequently.

It Sounded Good When We Started offers a highly readable go-to for engineers, scientists, computer professionals, and anyone working on specialized, collaborative projects.

DWAYNE PHILLIPS, PhD, has worked as a systems and computer engineer for the U.S. government since 1980. He performed liaison work with foreign governments, developed and maintained software, and for most of the past twelve years has managed projects. He is the author of The Software Project Manager's Handbook: Principles that Work at Work, also from Wiley.

ROY O'BRYAN has over forty-two years on the leading edge of technology, developing software and hardware systems. A former Senior Executive Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, O'Bryan has worked for the past thirteen years for Northrop Grummon as a Senior Staff Engineer providing technical and management assistance to a number of government programs.

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Preface.

Part 1.

1. It Sounded Good When We Started.

2. A Place Where Everyone Knows Your Name: The Project Room.

Part 2.

3. A Charlatan in Expert’s Clothing: Writing a Lie—The Proposal.

4. Leaving the Station Before Everyone Is on Board: Staffing-Up.

5. After The Party Is Over: Letting Everyone Do Their Own Thing.

Part 3.

6. Months Have 30 Days in Them, Except Those That Don’t: Planning.

7. Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just Might Get It: The Requirements.

8. If I Could Just Find a Question for this Answer: Designing Before the Fact.

9. A Miracle Occurs Here: Schedule Tracking.

10. Getting Mugged by the Facts: Risk Mitigation Strategies.

Part 4.

11. A Charlatan in Sheep’s Clothing: The Right Project Manager.

12. But You Didn’t Ask—Communicating with the Customer.

13. A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned: Maximum Reward versus Minimum Regret.

14. Punish the Innocent By-Standers: Award Fee, Bonuses and Other Rewards and Punishments.

Part 5.

15. Digging Yourself Into A Hole: Put Down The Shovel And Seek Outside Help.

16. Fear of Stepping on Superman’s Cape: Not Holding Meaningful Internal Reviews.

17. Not Providing Adult Supervision: Do the Junior Team Members Really Need Mentoring?

Part 6.

18. Being Too Big For Your Britches: So Much Confidence With So Little Talent (Experience).

19. Appointed Experts: Who Brings What To The Table.

Part 7.

20. The Shallow End of The Gene Pool: Small Projects and Large Corporations.

21. Telling Your Customer What You Think He Wants To Hear and Believing It: Outsourcing.

22. Going Where Angels Fear to Tread: There Is No Right Way to Do The Wrong Thing.

Part 8.

23. Not Knowing What You Know: Are You Really Getting The Desired Results?

24. Don’t Forget to Breathe: What People Often Do Wrong When Behind Schedule.

25. We’re Almost Out of the Woods: You Aren’t Finished Until You Are Finished.

Index.

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DWAYNE PHILLIPS has worked as a systems and computer engineer for the U.S. government since 1980. He performed liaison work with foreign governments, developed and maintained software, and for most of the past twelve years has managed projects. He is the author of The Software Project Manager’s Handbook: Principles that Work at Work, also from Wiley-IEEE Computer Society Press.

ROY O’BRYAN has been on the leading edge of technology for forty-two years, developing software and hardware systems. A former Senior Executive Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, O’Bryan has worked for the past thirteen years at Northrop Grumman as a Senior Staff Engineer providing technical and management assistance to a number of government programs.

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"…this book is an entertaining read, and contains good advice…a useful reference for anyone involved in managing a technology project." (Computing Reviews.com, March 2, 2004)
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It Sounded Good When We Started: A Project Manager's Guide to Working with People on Projects (US $120.00)

-and- Computers and People: Essays from The Profession (US $71.95)

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