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Simmer Down

 

BOOK REVIEW

Book Title:    SIMMER DOWN: How to Deliver Successful Projects Despite Impossible Deadlines and Unrealistic Budgets
Author:  Douglas Brown
Publisher:  CALTROP Press
List Price:   $6.99
Format:  Soft Cover, 141 pages
Publication Date:   2016
ISBN: 978-1975871895
Reviewer: Betsey Katiti, PMP
Review Date:   July 2018

 



Introduction

As a newly certified PMP, I am still trying to get my feet wet, figure out my way in the world of Project Management.  While I have had success in managing/organizing projects in my Community – my most favorite of which was promoting and facilitating fund-raising Concerts for a group of orphaned children from Uganda – I am well aware of much larger corporate/federal projects that are harder to manage let alone complete successfully.  When I came across ‘SIMMER DOWN’ by Douglas Brown, I felt that this is  a book that could help me to take a deep breath, calm down and learn how one can deliver “Successful Projects Despite Impossible Deadlines and Unrealistic Budgets”.

Overview of Book’s Structure

In 8 Chapters, Douglas Brown starts out in the 1st chapter titled “We’ve Been There Too!” telling the reader that she or he is not alone in trying to manage a project that has the odds stacked against them, others have been there too.  He wants the reader to know that there are ways and means that can help a project complete successfully in spite of the hurdles along the way.  When faced with a project that is not exactly progressing nicely like we were taught in the PMBOK GUIDE, a discouraged Project Manager may feel there is no way out but Mr. Brown wants to equip the Project Manager with the tools that will help him or her deliver a successful project in spite of all the odds.  The author from early on and throughout the book emphasizes the importance of looking at the Big Picture.  How does your project fit in the overall organization structure’s needs and objectives?  The better your solution aligns with the direction of the organization, the more support you are likely to get.

In the following 6 chapters, Mr. Douglas goes out of his way to point out what the Project Manager needs to be aware of.  He covers topics that the average Project Manager especially one new to the field of Project Management may not be aware of.  Topics such as Capabilities, Baselines and Dependency Reviews.  Capabilities are what an organization is able to do and how well they can do it; they drive the organization’s strategy.  Find out how your project contributes to building an essential capability.  Baselines are the project’s delivery commitments.  While it may seem that these are written in stone, the reality is that most people are looking for a solution and this gives a Project Manager an opportunity to succeed.  Dependency reviews should be carried out early on in the project so the managers of different projects can review tasks that may create cross-project dependencies and how to best deal with them.

In the 8th and final chapter, Closing Out, Mr. Douglas talks about the importance of conducting a closeout.  Your project may have completed successfully but the organization will be poorer in the long run if there is no useful closeout process.  Future project teams need to be able to build from the experience your team has spent so much time and effort to gain.  Pay it forward; provide the people who come after you with decent records and hints.  You owe it to the Project Managers who will come after you to document what worked and what did not, expose the issues and drivers your project had to contend with.  It may not be convenient for you or the organization to round up the resources needed to conduct the retrospective but the benefit is well worth it.

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About the Reviewer


Betsey Katiti, PMP

Maryland, USA

 

 

 

Betsey Katiti, PMP is a Business Analyst for The Buffalo Group in Reston, Virginia.  Betsey holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Pace University, New York and M.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hartford, CT.  She earned her PMP in March 2018 and is a member of the Silver Spring PMI Chapter in Silver Spring, Maryland.

 

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the PMI Silver Spring Maryland Chapter. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Silver Spring Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  If you are an author or publisher of a project management-related book, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected].