By Stephen L. Nelson, Pat Coleman, Kaarin DolliverRedmond Technology Press, February 2000ISBN 0-9672981-1-3Price: $19.95 at Fatbrain
The world of computer publishing seems to be filled with 900- and 1,000-page books that detail every button, menu item, and feature for any given application. For many people, such monster books are intimidating and may end up making better doorstops than reading material.

Obviously, a book with several hundred pages about a new app does serve a purpose—if you are looking for a comprehensive reference. But what if you just need the basics? You may just need to learn enough about Project so that you can build a simple plan. Or perhaps you’d like to pick up a few tips so that you can open a Project file and understand what you are seeing. Redmond Technology Press has published a book that covers these fundamentals, Effective Executives Guide to Project 2000: The Eight Steps for Using Microsoft Project 2000 to Organize, Manage and Finish Critically Important Projects.

This short book, with the long title, provides executives and managers enough information about Project 2000 to allow them to intelligently navigate the product and create and manage simple project plans. At 275 pages, this book is tiny by computer book standards, but provides a wealth of good information for those who are new to using Project 2000.
Pat Coleman, one of the authors of Effective Executives Guide to Project 2000, wrote a brief commentary about this book on the Web site for online retailer Coleman suggested that the book is suitable for people who are managing either large or small projects. Coleman also shared an old adage of project management:“On project managers’ office walls, you sometimes see a poster that lists the following five stages in the life cycle of a project:

  1. Enthusiasm for the goal
  2. Disillusionment with the progress
  3. Search for the guilty
  4. Persecution of the innocent
  5. Praise for the nonparticipants

Unfortunately, we’ve all managed projects in the past that could be summarized in these words,” wrote Coleman.
Step-by-step guide
The book is organized so that it follows the natural flow you would use when developing a project plan. This path is broken down into steps with each step representing a stage in the creation and management of a project:

  1. Learn the language
  2. Describe the project
  3. Schedule project tasks
  4. Identify and allocate resources
  5. Review project organization
  6. Present project to stakeholders
  7. Manage project progress
  8. Communicate project status

The authors detail how to use Project to complete each step. They also demonstrate each step with real-life project examples.

This is a very good way of explaining the use of Project to a new user. Almost all managers understand the process of creating a project, even those that are not “project managers.” This book puts readers in a comfortable place by taking them through a process they already know instead of walking them through screen after screen of features.

A review published on the Fatbrain Web site provides this summary:

Effective Executives Guide to Project 2000 also includes informative appendixes. One presents real-world solutions for dealing with the practical problem of scheduling uncertainties using PERT. Another explains how to customize Project 2000 so it better fits a project manager’s specific requirements.”

The final word
It’s obvious this book is aimed at someone who is new to Microsoft Project. I would not recommend Effective Executives Guide to Project 2000 for an old hand at Project 98 who wants to learn about the details of Project 2000. You won’t learn everything you need to know about Project 2000, but if you are new to Microsoft Project and want a book that will get you up to speed with the basics without calling you a “dummy” on the title page, then this is the book for you.
Which books or Web sites have helped you with Project 2000? Post a comment below or send us an e-mail with more information.