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Project Management Books: 20 Best Books for Project Managers

By 06/12/2016 October 4th, 2018 2 Comments

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Project management books can be an incredibly useful tools if you’re new to project management or have just been put in charge of a massive, scary project. Read up, learn and get some project management books on your bookshelf.

While it’s impossible to replace real-life project management experience, project management books can come in handy when you’ve got a few gaps in your project management experience that you want to fill, you’re taking on a new type of project, or an aspect of a project that you’ve not done before.

The beauty of books on project management is that while you may not have the necessary experience, several others do! Sure, trial and error may be a great way to learn, but being able to avoid errors by using over someone else’s project management knowledge and experience is always a smart choice.

But with so many books on project management, how do you find the best project management book for you? There are project management books to cover everything from basic project management skills and techniques to the softer skills of leadership, communication, delegation and productivity.

To make the choice easier, we’ve curated a list of 20 of the best project management books and divided them into newbie, beginner, experienced and advanced levels of project management expertise so that you can find a book to match your level of PM experience.

You can also find here our complete guides that cover some of the essentials of project management: project plans, statement of work, and project estimates. And what’s better, they are free. So get your copy!

So you think you want to be a Digital Project Manager? by Ben Aston

This is a digital project management book for anyone who thinks they might want to get started in a career as a digital project manager (DPM). The book covers what being a digital project manager is all about; what digital project management is, why I love it and what DPMs actually do all day. The book explores what makes a great digital project manager and explores where you can begin and what steps you can take to start your career as a DPM.

Read it for:
– A helpful introduction to the world of digital project management
– A handy guide to pivoting your career towards the role of a digital project manager

Expertise Level: Beginner

1. Project Management JumpStart by Kim Heldman

If you are someone handling a project for the first time, this project management book is a great place to (jump) start. Project Management JumpStart is an easy-to-read project management book written in a friendly, conversational tone. It thoroughly covers project management basics and the project management lifecycle that those new to project management will need to get acquainted with – the planning, executing, managing and closing of projects. It includes great content which although not digital-specific, helps bring the principles of project management to life with practical content that useful for applying to digital projects. You’ll find examples with case studies, and well-thought solutions for handling most problems you’re likely to come up against on your first few projects.

Read it for:
– Handy case studies and helpful examples
– A broad high-level understanding of project management


2. Project Management: Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Greg Horine

Another project management book that covers the project management lifecycle, beginning from ideation and planning to closing and post-project management. Beginners can really make use of this book to learn about building a project plan and proper work breakdown structure (WBS), creating budgets and timelines. If you haven’t done this before, this book is all you need in order to know how to make a project schedule, set a budget and manage it, control deliverables, manage conflict and risks, ensure quality communication, work with stakeholders, be a great leader, and even more! It may be a lot to take in at once, but it is great to use as a guide at every stage of a new project.

Read it for:
– Mastering the key skills of project management
– Learning how to keep projects on track


3. Project Management for Non-Project Managers by Jack Ferraro

The reason beginners need to read this book is that it covers not only what project managers need to do, but also explains this in the light of various types of managers and how their tasks differ. It primarily compares Project Managers with Functional Managers, and highlights that while the latter may be interested in the status quo, project managers need to work on a dramatic change. While Functional Managers focus on small progressions that will improve productivity and success, Project Managers need to come up with plans that bring huge improvements – and this book tells you how to do that.

Read it for:
– Step-by-step guidelines, case studies, and illustrations
– Guidance on developing core project management skills


4. The Lazy Project Manager: How to Be Twice As Productive and Still Leave the Office Early by Peter Taylor

A project management classic! And if you’ve not seen or heard of the Lazy Project Manager before – although the book’s provacative title might imply project managers need not work hard – that’s not actually what the book is about. The book suggests achieving the perfect balance between work and relaxation – a pleasant 80/20 ratio where you can get more work done in lesser time – hence the term ‘lazy’. It is short and snappy, but covers all main things new project managers should know. It’s helpfully divided into the three main stages: Startup, Execution, Conclusion. It’s actually probably the least lazy definition of the word ‘lazy’!

Read it for:
– Fun, digestible, lazy project management takeaways
– Practical tips specifically for newbies


5. Project Management For You: How to Turn Your Ideas Into Reality, Deliver On Your Promises, and Get Things Done by Cesar Abeid

This book is one of those that you finish reading, put down, and immediately get to work! Abeid’s writing will stir in you a constructive ambition to start working, because it will make you feel like everything you need to handle is easily manageable. The overall book is about the specifics of project management, but is also about ridding newbies of the nervousness and reluctance that may make them feel like they can’t get through this. As further guidance, he defines exactly what a project should mean, and shares personal examples and all the steps required to reach the finish line.

Read it for:
– Personal examples and stories that make project management best practice easy to understand
– Applying project management principles to all areas of life


6. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager by Kory Kogon

For new project managers, one of the most major problems is leadership. They might have the skills that a manager needs, but do they know how to lead a team of people, motivate them and get things done? This book is quick and concise – a short, easy read for anyone who finds themselves a project manager, but without the title. It elaborates on how important leadership is for success, what the formula for it is and how beginners can get a hang of it. It also helps demonstrate the importance of leadership in project completion and how to manage people in a formula for success.

Read it for:
– Memorable ‘Project Management Proverbs’
– Personal stories of several authors and professionals


7. The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive by Terri L. Griffith

This book is written by a management professor and technology expert that directly speaks to managers about the three pillars of project management; people, technology and organizational processes. The book teaches the most effective way to balance these three fundamental pillars, telling the modern day manager how to handle a dynamic workplace that changes day to day, to adapt to a rapidly changing technological ecosystem. Lastly, it teaches a manager how to understand the important information and insights that often remain hidden but overpower the traditional management mindsets and communications.

Read it for:
– Guidance on blending tools, talents and organizational design to be effective
– Case studies and interviews with advice from various leaders in the field


Expertise Level: Experienced

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

Terry Schmidt focusses on execution – taking projects from strategy to effective implementation. The book provides a detailed approach on how to apply the principles of learned theory into real projects, and that too across several industries. The book covers something several experienced managers may easily forget: handling projects with a strategic perspective and answering the big picture, ‘why’ of a project properly.

Read it for:
– Discovering ways to improve project portfolio management
– Strategic insights on executing the right project; and making  sure you are executing the project right


9. Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure by Todd C. Williams

While most other reads you find break down the project management process, Williams does the opposite; he looks at the job from a holistic perspective. Once you are past the stage where you need to understand what project management is, this is the book that will give you insight into in-depth issues and risks, and the possible approaches you can take. The author emphasizes on key factors that must be looked at when trying to save a project; these include forming a strong team, staying involved with it and finding answers within it.

Read it for:
– Help on identifying problems in projects and applicable approaches to cleaning them up
– Guidance on how to deal with problem projects and make use of objective data