Top 10 Books to Improve Your Project Management Skills
To ensure projects are delivered on time, budget, and scope, great project managers truly have to be jacks-of-all-trades. And to remain successful, you need to improve your skill set regularly. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best project management books that will set you well on your way to becoming a better project manager.
According to the Project Management Institute, organizations that undervalue project management report an average of 50% more of their projects failing outright. Thus, businesses must hire people with good project management skills.
And to be competitive in this field, it’s important to always be up to date with the newest trends and continuously improve your project management skills. Luckily, there are tons of different resources available on project management, from various short articles to more comprehensive guides. But where to start?
You’re in luck! We’ve listed 10 of our favorite books we’ve found very useful over the years. And whether you’re an expert with years of experience or a novice just getting to grips with it all, there’s something for everyone.
1. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Greg Horine
|One of the most comprehensive books on the topic, Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide walks you step-by-step through the entire project, explaining what works and what doesn’t.
The guide is definitely suitable for both beginner and experienced project managers, but if you’re looking for many real-life examples, then there are better options out there.
Why read this book: This book is one of the fastest ways to master every project management task, from upfront budgeting and scheduling through execution, managing teams through closing projects, and learning from experience.
2. The Lazy Project Manager: How to Be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early by Peter Taylor
|How to Be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early features a lot of real case studies and is a perfect guide for managers who want to learn how to get more out of their time.
It’s not a training manual, turning you into a project manager, but it will help you identify ways to become more efficient, and as a result, gain a better work-life balance.
Why read this book: People often think there’s a direct correlation between hours worked (input) and results (output). This isn’t actually the case, and doing overtime is found to lead to lower productivity. This book shows you how to work smarter and achieve more without increasing the amount of time and energy spent.
3. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
|The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time is another great option for project managers interested in discovering a more efficient way to get things done. It explains precisely how scrum can be made to work for anyone and offers insights from various disciplines, including robotics, martial arts, judicial decision-making, aerial combat, and more.
Filled with practical examples drawn from all types of organizations, it will make you rethink the fundamentals of successful management.
Why read this book: Reading this book shows you how to achieve what others consider unachievable. Whether this is building a company or inventing a trailblazing technology, this is a must-read book for anyone looking to manage any type of project.
4. Alpha Project Managers: What the Top 2% Know That Everyone Else Does Not by Andy Crowe
|While not a new book, What the Top 2% Know That Everyone Else Does Not is an invaluable resource that details research findings from a survey of no less than 860 project managers and their supervisors.
Through in-depth interviews and discussions, the common attributes of elite project managers are uncovered – how they leverage relationships, conflict, alignment, change management, leadership, and much more to manage projects with better results than their peers.
Why read this book: This excellent read debunks many misconceptions surrounding successful managers and provides different perspectives on the character makeup of the world’s most successful project manager.
5. Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example by Steve McClatchy
|The author of this book, Steve McClatchy, works with Fortune 1000 companies daily and helps them improve their performance and take it to new levels. Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example is the result of his impressive experience in training project managers to become the best versions of themselves.
Further, this book offers practical tips and explains how decision-making habits can help shape our lives and relationships.
Why read this book: Reading this book can help you change how you make decisions as a project manager. You will learn how to make decisions that yield better results, use your time most efficiently, and only move forward.
6. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge by Project Management Institute
|A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is an innovative insight into the world of project management. The newest, sixth edition, puts more emphasis on strategic and business knowledge, including discussing project management business documents and the essential skills for success in today’s market.
Further, it includes new sections on agile approaches and adaptive environments, describing how these practices integrate into project settings.
Why read this book: It’s an insightful and very practical read for those interested in learning more about project management within agile and adaptive environments.
7. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams by Terry Schmidt
|Published in 2009 and written by Terry Schmidt, a certified PMP and world-renowned management consultant, Strategic Project Management Made Simple emphasizes the vital thinking process that is usually missing in project management and strategic planning.
It’s more than just a project management book – offering readers an actionable framework for achieving goals and deep thinking.
Why read this book: Often considered the most practical and workable plan to tacking any strategic initiative, this read offers a fresh approach to understanding how projects need to be approached and the steps required to get the desired results.
8. Guide to Project Management: Getting It Right and Achieving Lasting Benefit by Paul Roberts
|Getting It Right and Achieving Lasting Benefit is an invaluable resource for project managers looking to deliver successful outcomes and achieve lasting benefits through effective changes.
In addition to providing audit examples, the guide explains the basic techniques and principles of project management and how they are essential to managing a business effectively.
Why read this book: Compared to many other books that only include examples of project success, this book offers examples of projects that started off on the wrong foot – ranging from the very late completion of Wembley to launching the Hubble Space Telescope with a malfunctioning device.
9. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun
|A classic bestseller on managing project teams, Making Things Happen is a refreshing read with an insightful yet funny approach to what many people consider a boring subject.
The book describes the common challenges project managers have to face and includes entertaining photography, humor, over 50 diagrams, and executive summaries.
Why read this book: It is extremely helpful for anyone who wants to identify and apply the right skills and tactics to overcome challenges as a project manager. Besides, all the techniques described are easy to adopt, making this book a very practical one.
10. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
|Our list wouldn’t be complete without a book by David Allen. Called ‘the Bible of business and personal productivity’ by Lifehack, Getting Things Done is one of the most influential business books.
Although not exactly a book about project management, it’s beneficial if you feel disorganized and overwhelmed by the way your to-do lists get longer, not shorter.
Why read this book: If you think that there are not enough hours in the day to complete all your tasks, then this book is for you. Further, it offers deceptively simple guidelines for getting things done and is a must-read for project managers who want to improve their workflow.
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Although the selection of other project management books and resources available is endless, these books have all stood the test of time and clawed their way to Amazon’s bestseller lists. All of these are also present on Scoro’s bookshelf and are an excellent place to start whether you’re a starting project manager or a seasoned pro looking to brush up your skills.
If you want to learn more about project management, head over to Scoro’s Blog Work Smarter, Not Harder, which features many insightful articles.