Project Management for Flat Organizations


project-management-for-flat-organizationsBook Title:  Project Management for Flat Organizations

Author:  Laura Dallas Burford, PMP

Publisher:  J. Ross Publishing

List Price:   US$ 39.95

Format:  hard cover; 310 pages

Publication Date:  2013

ISBN: 9781604270846

Reviewer:      Steven Bagley, PMP

Review Date:              January

Introduction to the Book

Best practices in project management and the Project Management Professional certification are based on the assumption that project management exists in an environment where there are adequate resources, such as a Project Management Office, experienced, expert staff, funds for training, etc. This, of course, is not always the case. Project management exists in a continuum from just being reactive to issues, all the way to best practices, planning, and methodologies that can be offered by a premier international professional organization, such as the Project Management Institute.

Our intrepid author—and I do think she was brave in putting out this book—has envisioned the stark reality of projects in under-resourced organizations, and no doubt lived it, helping some number of small businesses get control of and complete projects. It takes a certain amount of bravery to start out offering a methodology of sub-optimal project management, even if it is optimally sub-optimal.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is essentially a classic how-to-manage-a-project guide, following the lines of the PMBOK and many other project management books. The difference is that her point of departure is that the reader won’t have the resources to do it full scale.

She approaches the scaled-down version by assuming the organization is “flat”. By this she means that there are few or no levels of hierarchy. It is a fair assumption that small business are flat and that flat organizations are small, but it feels at times that she is talking around what she really wants to say, namely, that it is appropriate to scale back project management from the ideal and here is a thorough approach to ensure a certain degree of management, enough to get effective results, not so much as to let lack of resources be an excuse.

Highlights: What’s New in this Book

The new idea in this book, somewhat buried between the lines, is that project management can be done even when the structures and resources are not there to support it. She does a good job at making it seem doable. If a functional staff member suddenly has to put on another hat and manage a project, they do not have time to study and train to become a project manager, nor do they need to grope in the dark trying to learn how to manage projects through trial and error. There is another way it is just enough project management to be credible, but not more than a flat organization can sustain. 


To read entire Book Review (click here)

About the Reviewer

steven-bagleyflag-usaSteven Bagley. PMP 

Steven Bagley has been helping manage projects since 1996, working on projects in US and internationally, including China, the Philippines, Russia, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Most projects were related to energy and information technology. Mr. Bagley holds a bachelors degree in Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masters degree in International Trade and Investment Policy from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He currently resides in Dallas, TX and can be contacted at [email protected].

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of cooperation between the publisher, PM World Inc and the Dallas Chapter of the Project Management Institute (www.pmidallas.org). Publishers provide books to PM World, books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter where they are given to chapter members who commit to providing a book review in a standard format; the reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  Since PMI Dallas Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, they represent the intended audience for most PM books.  If you are an author or publisher of a book related to program or project management, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected].