Software Project Management provides insight to the importance of careful project management. Topics are presented in the same order that they appear in the progression of actual projects. The author utilizes his creative writing background to teach these topics with the tone of a friend sitting beside each student, rather than as a general lecture on the material.
The text considers the culture of a software project team and the leadership technique needed to make a project successful. It adds to this foundation the importance of the process itself as well. Current software development tools such as Rational Suite, Microsoft Project, and PSP Studio are also addressed. Basic measurements are presented with examples from real-world projects, which shows how a project can be monitored, controlled and assessed. Precise directions and examples are given to illustrate this hands-on method as well as the techniques a student will need to actually perform project management in a real-life situation.
Focuses on applications rather than topics
Carries a case study through parts two and three of the book
Presents material in the same order as it progresses in a project
Provides reference to those tools supporting software project management
Includes insight from the authors 10 years of experience working on project terms
Integrates “case studies” of teams taken from both academic and professional situations, some taken from the author's personal experience
Review By: Scott H. Kupferman 07/08/2010Dr. Henry offers an outstanding primer for the new software project manager. The book almost reads like an advanced version of "Software Project Management for Dummies" in its simple yet direct approach to a rather involved subject. Dr. Henry offers his best-demonstrated practices culled from more than 20 years of personal and academic experience in software development to establish his “four basic building blocks” of software project management. Dr. Henry presents each of these blocks (People, Processes, Tools, and Measurements) in a reader-friendly tone that doesn’t intimidate the beginner or bore the relatively experienced. Instead, project managers are given a visually pleasing introduction to the subject and enough basic content to help reassure even the newest PM. For more experienced project managers who have been working outside of a formal process, the book offers some fine suggestions for streamlining their processes by providing time-tested controls.
At times, the guidelines and steps scattered throughout the chapters seem like Chicken Soup for the Software PM’s Soul, but they actually offer little pearls of wisdom that are easily overlooked. Dr. Henry doesn’t seem to be setting out to make anyone an expert project manager, considering much of the book is made up of guidelines and definitions. Dr. Henry has created a fine introduction to help students, small businesses, and new project managers find their way on their own without the use of sophisticated processes that other authors typically aim at researchers or large IT organizations. For those who are interested in going a little deeper, each chapter ends with enough references to complete a master’s thesis.
Part 1 of the book is an introduction to Henry’s four-block structure. The structure explanation actually begins in Part 2 – “Prepare to Manage.” This is where Henry meets Covey with some very simple admonitions for project managers. “Know what is at stake, who is affected, what is the payoff, what are the risks, and have the vision to get you through it all.” Part 2 is primarily about organization and identification… of risks, resources, stakeholders, and time. The planning section begins to get into the meat of software project management with scoping, scheduling, and estimation. Part 3 covers planning, scheduling tools, and acquisition of resources including hardware, support staff, and licensing. Chapter 11 provides a mile-high overview of resource acquisition under ideal circumstances, but still offers a glimpse of what you may have to accomplish. Part 4 discusses project monitoring and scheduling adjustments.
Chapter 13 – “Monitor Your Project” is where Dr. Henry really shines. Dr. Henry offers real examples of the types of conversations the software project manager might have with team members. While this section is less technical than most of the book, the sections on soliciting feedback from your team and avoiding problems are outstanding examples of real-world experience brought to life on the page. Part 5 wraps up the book with gathering requirements, testing, and planning for deployment. The testing section is very brief, however, it would be easy to move beyond the scope of this book and get too far into test administration, tools, and measurements.
The book uses very plain language to tackle a very involved subject. I personally have found many other software project management tomes to be a bit intimidating and a little too scientific, however, Dr. Henry manages to distill many of the practices in those books along with some very practical management/leadership tips. The book is a nice blend of Covey’s “7 Habits” and Boehm’s “Software Cost Estimation” and offers a well-rounded approach to software PM-ing for the project management neophyte or college student. Henry does touch on the Personal Software Process (Humphrey 1997) and even offers a few pages of information about the PSP Studio (Henry 1996) developed by Henry himself to alleviate some of the paperwork strain caused by PSP. It would be nice if the book included the application and documentation on CD as a supplement to the book, rather than having to download it from Dr. Henry’s University of Montana website.