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If you're looking to shift into program management for the first time or just want to boost your skill set, I've got some recommendations to add to your reading list.

Check out the following books for help with:

  • Aligning team members
  • Applying agile and lean techniques
  • Managing resources in a startup or enterprise
  • Grasping the intricacies of getting software engineering teams on board with teamwork
  • Mastering the work breakdown structure—a template essential to many projects

7 Best Program Management Books

Here are seven handpicked book selections that can help you bridge the knowledge gap to master program management. Following this section you'll find more detailed descriptions for each title.

  1. The Standard for Program Management by Project Management Institute
  2. Program Management for Improved Business Results by Russ J. Martinelli, James M. Waddell, and Tim J. Rahschulte
  3. Program Management: A Life Cycle Approach by Ginger Levin
  4. The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management by James T. Brown
  5. Program Management (Fundamentals of Project Management) by Michel Thiry
  6. The Essentials of Managing Risk for Projects and Programmes by John Bartlett
  7. The Essentials of Managing Quality for Projects and Programmes by John Bartlett

Overviews Of The 7 Best Program Management Books

Here is a quick summary of each book, what you’ll learn, and why you should read it. You'll also see the author’s LinkedIn and other places to connect with them online.

1. The Standard for Program Management by Project Management Institute

The Standard for Program Management program management book

Summary:

The Standard for Program Management offers readers an in-depth journey into program management, highlighting the crucial standards and methodologies for overseeing multiple interconnected projects.

What You'll Learn:

This book provides valuable insights into the foundational elements of program management and reveals proven strategies to manage multiple projects under a single umbrella cohesively, ensuring alignment with overarching business objectives.

Why You Should Read It:

Readers seeking a profound grasp of program management principles and techniques for fostering stakeholder engagement will find this work indispensable.

Quote From The Book:

"Programs are grouped within a portfolio and are comprised of subprograms, projects, or other work that are managed in a coordinated way to achieve strategic objectives."

About The Author:

Written by the Project Management Institute, this publication reaffirms its dedication to enriching the domains of project and program management. For deeper insights and continuous updates, you can visit their profiles on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, or explore their official website.

2. Program Management for Improved Business Results by Russ J. Martinelli, James M. Waddell, and Tim J. Rahschulte

Program Management for Improved Business Results program management book

Summary:

Program Management for Improved Business Results accentuates a holistic viewpoint on program management, emphasizing strategies to optimize business outcomes derived from empirical experiences.

What You'll Learn:

Readers will acquire a nuanced understanding of how business strategies interweave with program management, along with actionable tools and techniques that ensure consistent delivery of value.

Why You Should Read It:

Packed with pragmatic insights, this book serves as a beacon for those striving to marry program management with business strategies to foster improved organizational performance.

Quote From The Book:

"Effective program management is the art and science of transforming an organizational strategy into tangible, meaningful work."

About The Author:

This book comes alive through the combined expertise of Russ J. Martinelli, James M. Waddell, and Tim J. Rahschulte. All esteemed figures in the realm of program management, they offer valuable insights drawn from their vast professional experiences. Connect with Russ J. Martinelli on LinkedIn here, James M. Waddell here, and Tim J. Rahschulte here.

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3. Program Management: A Life Cycle Approach by Ginger Levin

Program Management: A Life Cycle Approach program management book

Summary:

Ginger Levin's Program Management: A Life Cycle Approach dives deep into the comprehensive life cycle of program management. The book offers readers an all-encompassing view of the different phases and the strategies to navigate them effectively.

What You'll Learn:

Dive into the various stages of program management, from initiation to closure, and understand the best practices and tools applicable at each step.

Why You Should Read It:

For those seeking to master the intricacies of program management across its entire life cycle, this book acts as an essential guide, outlining each phase's unique challenges and opportunities.

Quote From The Book:

"Program management is both an art and a science, requiring a balance of soft and technical skills."

About The Author:

Ginger Levin is a renowned expert in program and project management. Explore more of her works on Amazon.

4. The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management by James T. Brown

The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management program management book

Summary:

James T. Brown's handbook delves into the nuances of program management, offering strategies to ensure the success of individual projects by optimizing program management practices.

What You'll Learn:

The book offers insights into setting up robust program management processes, establishing clear communication lines, and ensuring the alignment of projects with organizational goals.

Why You Should Read It:

This handbook is an essential read for those aiming to ensure the success of their projects by leveraging best practices in program management.

Quote From The Book:

"Program management is the art of making the seemingly impossible possible."

About The Author:

James T. Brown, a veteran in the field of program management, brings a wealth of knowledge to his readers. Engage further with James on LinkedIn, or explore his insights on his personal website.

5. Program Management (Fundamentals of Project Management) by Michel Thiry

Program Management (Fundamentals of Project Management) program management book

Summary:

Michel Thiry's book on program management provides readers with a structured approach to understanding and mastering program management.

What You'll Learn:

This book offers a deep dive into the essentials of program management, from strategic alignment to effective execution, ensuring that projects deliver maximum value.

Why You Should Read It:

For those seeking a foundational yet comprehensive guide to program management, this book offers both theoretical knowledge and practical insights.

Quote From The Book:

"Programs are the bridge between strategy and projects. They translate strategic intent into tangible outcomes."

About The Author:

Michel Thiry is a recognized figure in the domain of program and project management, bringing a balanced mix of academic insights and practical expertise. To learn more about Michel, visit his profile on LinkedIn.

6. The Essentials of Managing Risk for Projects and Programmes by John Bartlett

The Essentials of Managing Risk for Projects and Programmes program management book

Summary:

John Bartlett's work is a deep dive into the critical realm of risk management within projects and programs. He provides a structured approach to identifying, assessing, and managing risks.

What You'll Learn:

The intricacies of risk management tailored for projects and programs, and strategies to mitigate potential pitfalls ensuring project success.

Why You Should Read It:

For anyone overseeing projects or programs, understanding risk is pivotal. Bartlett offers a comprehensive guide to navigating this complex domain.

Quote From The Book:

"Risk management is not about avoiding mistakes, but about making informed choices."

About The Author:

John Bartlett is a seasoned expert in project and risk management.

7. The Essentials of Managing Quality for Projects and Programmes by John Bartlett

The Essentials of Managing Quality for Projects and Programmes program management book

Summary:

John Bartlett's work sheds light on the importance of maintaining quality in both projects and programs. The book provides an in-depth exploration of methodologies and tools to ensure consistent quality throughout the lifecycle of projects and programs.

What You'll Learn:

Acquire insights into quality management principles, methodologies to monitor and maintain quality, and strategies to mitigate risks associated with quality lapses.

Why You Should Read It:

Ensuring quality is paramount for the success of any project or program. This guide offers invaluable advice for professionals aiming for excellence in their project outcomes.

Quote From The Book:

"Quality is not an act; it is a continuous journey towards perfection."

About The Author:

John Bartlett is a recognized expert in project and risk management.

Program-Adjacent Books You Might Be Interested In

  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) by Project Management Institute
  2. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams by Terry Schmidt
  3. Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide by Greg Horine
  4. The Lazy Project Manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office early by Peter Taylor
  5. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun
  6. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood
  7. Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber
  8. The PMI Guide to Business Analysis by Project Management Institute

1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) by Project Management Institute

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) program management book

Summary:

The PMBOK Guide by the Project Management Institute offers an extensive exploration of best practices and methodologies in project management, serving as an indispensable resource for professionals across the globe.

What You'll Learn:

This guide meticulously outlines the primary processes, tools, and knowledge areas vital for project success, allowing practitioners to align projects seamlessly with organizational goals.

Why You Should Read It:

As an industry-standard manual, this book equips readers with a structured framework for project management, ensuring applicability across a diverse range of industries.

Quote From The Book:

"Projects are temporary endeavors undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result."

About The Author:

Authored by the Project Management Institute, globally recognized as a leading institution for project management professionals, the organization maintains active profiles on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and has comprehensive resources available on its official website.

2. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams by Terry Schmidt

Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams program management book

Summary:

Terry Schmidt's work provides a straightforward approach to strategic project management. He introduces practical tools and techniques, making the subject matter easily accessible for both leaders and teams.

What You'll Learn:

Uncover practical tools and methodologies tailored for strategic project management that can be seamlessly integrated into real-world scenarios.

Why You Should Read It:

Ideal for both newcomers and seasoned professionals, this book breaks down complex concepts into easily digestible bits, fostering efficient project execution with strategic alignment.

Quote From The Book:

"Strategy without execution is merely theory. The real game is played out in the trenches."

About The Author:

Terry Schmidt is a strategist with a passion for bridging the gap between ideas and execution. To delve deeper into his thoughts and methodologies, you can connect with him on LinkedIn, and follow his updates on Twitter.

3. Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide by Greg Horine

Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide program management book

Summary:

Greg Horine's Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide stands true to its title. It offers newcomers a foundational understanding of project management, ensuring they grasp the essentials without feeling overwhelmed.

What You'll Learn:

Gain a solid footing in the fundamentals of project management, from defining project scopes to understanding stakeholder dynamics and effective resource allocation.

Why You Should Read It:

For anyone venturing into the domain of project management, this book serves as the perfect starting point, ensuring you have all the necessary basics at your fingertips.

Quote From The Book:

"A project's success is directly proportional to the clarity of its objectives and the commitment of its stakeholders."

About The Author:

Greg Horine is a seasoned project management professional with a knack for simplifying complex concepts. Engage with his professional journey on LinkedIn.

Check out more project management books for beginners here.

4. The Lazy Project Manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office early by Peter Taylor

The Lazy Project Manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office early program management book

Summary:

Peter Taylor's intriguingly titled work introduces readers to the art of productive laziness. He advocates for working smarter, not harder, ensuring maximum efficiency with minimal effort.

What You'll Learn:

The book uncovers techniques and principles of achieving more with less effort, emphasizing the importance of prioritization, effective delegation, and time management.

Why You Should Read It:

Ideal for those looking to optimize their workday, this book offers a fresh perspective on project management that champions efficiency and work-life balance.

Quote From The Book:

"Productive laziness is not about avoiding work; it's about working smarter."

About The Author:

Peter Taylor, known as 'The Lazy Project Manager,' champions the approach of maximizing productivity with optimized efforts. Connect with Peter on LinkedIn, and catch his latest thoughts on Twitter.

5. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management program management book

Summary:

Scott Berkun demystifies the challenges of project management in "Making Things Happen." Drawing from his experiences at Microsoft, he presents real-world examples and actionable strategies.

What You'll Learn:

Tactics to lead projects and teams effectively, insights into decision-making processes, and how to navigate the complexities of project dynamics.

Why You Should Read It:

Berkun's blend of practical advice, with narratives from his experiences, provides readers with a unique and valuable perspective on project management.

Quote From The Book:

"Good project managers admit mistakes: that's why you don't find that many."

About The Author:

Scott Berkun is a former Microsoft project manager who has penned several bestsellers. Engage further with his insights on LinkedIn, follow his discussions on Twitter, or visit his personal website for more.

6. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager program management book

Summary:

This insightful book offers tools and techniques for those who find themselves in project management roles without the official title. The authors emphasize that everyone can benefit from project management skills, regardless of their formal position.

What You'll Learn:

Essential project management skills, from initiating and planning to executing and closing, specifically tailored for those who haven’t been formally trained in project management.

Why You Should Read It:

If you're handling projects without the official project manager title or looking to refine your foundational skills, this guide offers practical and actionable advice.

Quote From The Book:

"Every project is a people project."

About The Author:

Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood bring a combined wealth of experience in leadership and project management. Engage with Kory on LinkedIn, follow Suzette on Twitter, and James on LinkedIn.

7. Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber

Agile Project Management with Scrum program management book

Summary:

In this pioneering work, Ken Schwaber introduces the principles and practices of Scrum, a framework within Agile, demonstrating its transformative power in project management.

What You'll Learn:

The Scrum methodology in-depth, including its processes, roles, and practices, and how to implement it effectively within project teams.

Why You Should Read It:

For those looking to transition to Agile methodologies, or refine their Scrum practices, Schwaber's book serves as an authoritative guide.

Quote From The Book:

"Scrum is a feedback-driven empirical approach which is, like all empirical process control, underpinned by the three pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation."

Find more agile project management books here.

8. The PMI Guide to Business Analysis by Project Management Institute

The PMI Guide to Business Analysis program management book

Summary:

Presented by the Project Management Institute, this guide serves as an authoritative resource on business analysis. The book highlights the integral role of business analysis in project management and provides a roadmap for its effective execution.

What You'll Learn:

Grasp the fundamentals and advanced methodologies of business analysis, its integration with project management, and how it influences decision-making processes.

Why You Should Read It:

As the dynamics of business evolve, the role of business analysis in project management becomes ever more critical. This guide ensures professionals are equipped with the latest best practices.

Quote From The Book:

"Business analysis bridges business needs with solutions, driving value at every step."

About The Author:

The Project Management Institute is the world's leading organization for project management professionals. Engage with PMI on LinkedIn, stay updated through their Twitter, or find a plethora of resources on their official website.

What's Next?

Find more books about project management, or join our membership community to network with and learn from 100's of other digital project managers.

Galen Low
By Galen Low

Galen is a digital project manager with over 10 years of experience shaping and delivering human-centered digital transformation initiatives in government, healthcare, transit, and retail. He is a digital project management nerd, a cultivator of highly collaborative teams, and an impulsive sharer of knowledge. He's also the co-founder of The Digital Project Manager and host of The DPM Podcast.