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Is this the best planning book ever published?

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OK, now I’ve grabbed your attention with that very un-British boast, time to tell the story behind the headline.

APM president Tom Taylor in praising our efforts at the Planning, Scheduling, Monitoring and Control (PSMC) book launch last month, asked us to put away that British modesty and tell the world what a brilliant piece of work we had created.

So here it goes… we set out with the ambition to write the best book ever (in the field of project management anyway) and this is how we went about it.

Firstly, the subject matter. The PSMC guide fills a gap in APM’s range of publications. We are richly served by introductions, guides, papers that advance the practice of the project management discipline. But in the real world of projects there is a deficit in delivery of some of the basics. This guide was to be both a back-to-basics guide as well as touch on recent advances in BIM and agile, for example. We found that with a pan-industry author group we all learnt of some old techniques for the first time!

Secondly, we tried to cater for different learning styles, recognising that some prefer text, others prefer pictures. Feedback from the first and second tranches of peer reviews revealed very clearly who was reading each with the greatest attention! We ended up with over 150 illustrations and tables, some carefully adapted from our own organisations, many of them originals.

A key thing for us was to write clearly and simply. We adopted the ‘Emily Test’ – asking co-author Simon Taylor’s 10-year old daughter Emily to sense check the text when writing, reviewing and finalising the words we had written. The test challenged pompous and pretentious language; and also challenged us – the author group – to write in an easy-to-understand and succinct way. 

The finished product is not recommended reading for 10-year olds, but we did test the text against the Flesch Kincaid index to ensure we were writing at no higher than graduate level. Nearly all of the chapters pass this test, with many accessible to a lower educational level. Thus, we hope to have written something that is accessible to all, as well as useful to all.

So, on what criteria should the book be judged by? I think I can summarise this in four key bullet points:

  • Is it practical – in that it provides guidance that can be put to use by the practitioner?
  • Is it practical – in that it can be used as the basis for a syllabus and ultimately a suite of qualifications? (Watch this space.)
  • Is it practical – can anyone read it and understand the concepts held within it?
  • And finally is it fun?

On the last bullet point, the answer is perhaps not, although you could amuse yourself by spotting and counting the references to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, if that would help. But it was a lot of fun to write with this author group. Having fun while doing something serious was an important part of keeping the author team engaged and enthused. And you should have seen some of the cakes we ate!

Further details: The author group included: Keith Haward, Jenn Browne, Carolyn Limbert, Simon Taylor, Mike Prescott, Stephen Jones, Guy Hindley, Franco Pittoni, Ewen Mclean, and many others. The guide was peer reviewed by over 30 respected individuals inside and outside the Planning, Monitoring and Control SIG, and is available to buy from APM.


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  1. Paul Naybour
    Paul Naybour 14 September 2015, 04:48 PM

    Project planning and control has been a neglected area in project management. It is good to see the APM doing the topic really justice. This is a comprehensive but practical coverage of the topic. Is it the best project book on project planning and control? Probably read our full review of “Planning, Scheduling,  Monitoring and Control”

  2. Lee McDonagh
    Lee McDonagh 14 September 2015, 12:01 PM

    Having dipped into the book as a reference and pointed colleagues towards it, it certainly meets the first 3 of the success criteria set. As for the fourth, Don't Panic I'm sure we'll be able to find some fun in it even if it is only by looking for Hitch Hickers references throughout the text.Simplicity has to be fundemental in attracting people into Planning, Scheduling Monitoring and Control. There are already enough professionals hiding behind complexity without adding to their ranks and I think that this book gives a simple prctical guide to a complex enough area.

  3. Richard Renshaw
    Richard Renshaw 11 September 2015, 07:22 PM

    Hi Paul,Thank you, I have purchased. Please could you advise if the publisher has any guidelines for book reviews? I thought to undertake a review based upon a template or similar from the publisher.Kind regardsRichardMadinah, Saudi Arabia

  4. James Simons
    James Simons 14 September 2015, 09:29 AM

    Richard thanks for offering to the review the new planning guide. There is a regular book review section in Project journal; the editor Jason Hesse  will be able to adise on style, template etc. There is also the option to review on Amazon Thanks again. James 

  5. Richard Renshaw
    Richard Renshaw 07 November 2015, 05:53 AM

    James,I would like to suggest that this book be submitted for consideration as an addition to the;'s just an idea, hope it appeals.Regards           Richard

  6. Richard Renshaw
    Richard Renshaw 27 October 2015, 03:39 PM

    James, thanks again for the welcome advice. I have received confirmation from Amazon that my review has been uploaded. For ease of reference the URL link    

  7. Richard Renshaw
    Richard Renshaw 27 October 2015, 03:35 PM

    Thank you James, appreciated. Will follow-up accordingly and will then post up on the publishers website. Richard