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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
How to Manage a Successful Software Project 2ed
Author:
Sanjiv Purba&Bharat Shah
ISBN:
0 471 39339 8
Publisher:
Wiley
Pages:
466pp
Price:
£32-50
Reviewer:
Francis Glassborow
Subject:
management
Appeared in:
13-1
This is the second edition so you can deduce that the first edition was reasonably successful. On the other hand, you might wander why such a book needs a new edition. Surely the basics of project management have not changed significantly over the years. You might get a clue, and first cause for concern when you see 'With Microsoft Project 2000' on the front cover. It is not that I have anything against that piece of software but it acts as a strong indicator as to where the authors are coming from. And you would not be mistaken; the book is heavily influenced by a perspective on software that makes Microsoft Project 2000 worth considering as a management tool.

The first half of the book is reasonably generic and is certainly worth a read, but I am fairly certain that the kind of person that should be thinking about such things as management styles, concepts and the causes of failure will never actually take the time to read a book, let alone this one. The person who realises that there is much more to successful project management than the routine paper pushing, hiring and firing, playing the promotions game etc. will probably already have read other books that keep a clear focus on the task rather than getting side-tracked into considering one proprietary tool.

When you look closely at this book you find a broken promise. The title promises you that the book is about 'How to' and when you come away from the book you are unlikely to feel that you now know the answer. The chapters on why software projects fail or succeed lie at the heart of my disappointment. Do we really need to be told that bad planning leads to project failure? Of course not. And is it a surprise that good interpersonal skills are a strong factor in project success. But how do we avoid the former and acquire the latter? What do you do about senior management that consistently over-rules decisions of a planning committee when those adversely affected by decisions appeal against them?

If you are wondering whether you might look for work in a management role, reading this book might give you some insights and help you to reach a decision. If you are already managing projects that are failing, this book will not do much to turn things round, and if you already manage successful projects why would you be reading it?

If someone else would like to give this book a read and write another review from a different perspective they would be welcome to the review copy, because it is not a book that makes me want to find room for it on my bookshelves.