Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam
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One Minute Bottom Line
From all the PMP (Project Management Professional) preparation books I have seen, this is by far the most enjoyable to read. The important points are well stressed, illustrations are all around, examples are relevant and the exercises and mock exams are very helpful.
This is my third Head First book, and I am definitely a fan of the style. Some people don´t like it, some say its MTV style and the text flow is strange, etc. One problem I see with it is that you need many more pages to cover the same content due to the exercises and repetition of important points, but it is worth it. Another issue, and even the authors agree on this, is that the style is not suited for a reference book.
Chapter 1 Introduction - This small chapter explains what the PMBOK guide is and how it can help.There is also a quick introduction to the five process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling and closing) and to the nine areas of knowledge (there is a chapter for each one). We are also told that there are 44 processes we have to for the exam, which can seem a little intimidating at first. But the following six hundred pages explain each one very well.
Chapter 2 Organizations, processes and projects - Explains that organizations can be divided in three types, concerning the Project Manager's authority: Funcional, Matrix and Projectized. Some basic project related concepts like the triple constraint (time, cost...) and stakeholders are also presented.
Chapter 3 The Process Framework - Here the authors go deeper into the concepts presented in the first chapter. And we are able to better understand what the "process framework" is and how it intends to guide the Project Manager activity. Starting from this chapter a list of exercises is provided, along with the answers and a short explanation for each one.
Chapter 4 Project Integration Management - The first group of processes explained in detail belong to the Integration Knowledge Area. These processes see the project as a hole. For example: Direct and Manage Project Execution and Close Project. As the book says: "They are what people usually think as managers core responsibilities". In this chapter we are also introduced to the "Question Clinic" session, which shows how the questions in the exam work, a very valuable addition. And the mock exams, with each question explained.
Chapter 5 Scope Management - Scope is about what, exactly, is going to be done in the project. Conveniently, a software development project is used as an example of the kind of problems a bad scope can lead to. The more important tool in Scope Management is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which is very well explained and complemented with exercises.
Chapter 6 Time Management - Here the authors present the six processes that the PMBOK brings to help the PM in meeting the deadlines. There are lots of exercises that really make the difference in learning the techniques.
Chapter 7 Cost Management - There are three processes in the Cost Management "area": Cost Estimation, Cost Budgeting and Cost Control. In my opinion the are not difficult, so I felt the formulas were little over-explained.
Chapter 8 Quality Management - This chapter starts by clarifying what quality is in Project Management. And then, through the processes, we learn how we can plan, control and assure the quality in a project. Some very useful tools are shown, but unfortunately there is no space in the book to explain then in detail.
Chapter 9 Human Resources Management - Here the author explain the techniques the PMBOK offers to assemble and manage your team. Some techniques assume a matrixed organization, but this does not harms the chapter.
Chapter 10 Communication Management - It is said that communication is 90% of a PM job. In this chapter some tools are presented to keep everyone in the project well informed.
Chapter 11 Project Risk Management - Every project faces unexpected problems. This chapter brings some very useful techniques to identify risks and decide how to deal with then. By the way, this chapter can be downloaded for free in the book's web site.
Chapter 12 Procurement Management - Hiring an outside company or person to do part o your project can be a real life saver. But can turn out in a headache very easily. Thinking about this, the PMBOK guides has six processes for dealing with procurement, including how to select one and the different ways you can pay then.
Chapter 13 Professional Responsibility - This is the shortest chapter in the book, and the less useful too. It can be worthy only to the readers willing to do the exam very soon. But there is no escape, if it is on the test, it has to be on the book.
Chapter 14 Last-minute Review - The name say it all. A very short chapter to test your recently acquired knowledge.
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