Tag Archives: book review

APM Book Review: The Mentoring Manual, Julie Starr

Here is the full review for the Mentoring Manual published in APM’s Project magazine Summer 2015 edition:

Book title The Mentoring Manual

Author (s) Julie Starr

ISBN number 978-1-292-01789-1

Publisher Pearson Education Limited

Price £14.99

It makes you look at mentoring from a different angle – helping you recognise where existing relationships may already adopt the role of mentor, and how to distinguish mentoring from other relationships.
The book encourages you to take on the theory as you work through it, even if you don’t fully accept the concepts rather than re-engineering to enhance your own methods.
The book benefits project managers in that it has short exercises to practice which are easy to follow and not too time consuming – this helps the reader fully grasp the methods and can benefit from quick win scenarios (ideal for those working in busy environments). PMs ideally should be nurturing their teams and the book uses business scenarios which can be aligned to your current needs. The book takes a common sense approach to delivering and makes you think about how mentees might receive information, a trait I would say is required for a PM, however to have a refresh is always good practice. This would make an ideal beginner’s book for PMs new to mentoring and is ideal reference material to keep on the shelf to go back to as it doesn’t need to be read from start to finish in one go. The general theme is about working on relationships, therefore perfect for any PPM professional who could benefit from assistance in this area. Arguably it is the relationship management which harvests the best results within projects and programmes. It’s not PM specific, so it is also good for all management professionals, it is this generalist approach which does however feed well into any given scenario – as PM can be very diverse this lends itself well to the field.
There is a split between self help content and practical detail, the switch between the two makes for a different approach to this type of book.
You are encouraged to question your approach and as such this will shape your methods and management style in a positive way as it really tries to embrace how our actions are viewed from all angles.


Book Review – One Project Too Many for APM Project Magazine

Book Review – One Project Too Many for APM Project Magazine March 2013

Another book review by Nicola at The CV Righter appears in March’s edition of the APM Project Magazine – here is the full review:

Book Review

Book Title: One Project Too Many

Authors Name:  Geoff Reiss & Geoff Leigh

Publisher:  Project Manager Today Publications

List Price: £7.99

ISBN: 1-900391-12-0


One project too many

Introduction to the Book

This book is split into two sections – the first covers a newly appointed CEO to a supermarket chain, it is written in a novel format as opposed to a text book and talks through the discovery of the business current project portfolio. It is quickly ascertained that there are a lot of project which have no control and even no budgetary monitoring. Some of the projects benefits counter attack each other which leads the CEO to bring in an outside source to speak with the board and gain some buy-in to make significant changes without stepping on too many toes.The story continues with the consultant being employed at the company as a more cost effective move and then the business managers begin a new learning curve. As the book progresses it talks through structuring programmes of work and how to effectively put together a project team and using methods derived from OGC. The second half of the book runs through what is called “Anna’s files” – these are various pieces of documentation used throughout the first section of the book and run into further detail about the need and function of them.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is structured into two sections and nine chapters – the chapters are the first section of the book and the last section is not chaptered.


The book is written in a real life situation format which is a refreshing change from the usual text book clinical approach. Steering clear of the formal approach and combining the novel style with case studies lends to a more relaxed but easily more informative read – often faced with stuffy text I can start to bore of the repetitive and sometimes obvious, skipping sections just to be able to keep myself awake and actually drive something useful and unique. This book is engaging and amusing too, putting the methods into practice and actually demonstrating how it can or might not work really helps the reader get a grasp of the realities of managing projects rather than pure theory.I particularly like the part where it is suggested that some projects should be closed – the response being that they have already poured money into them, but it is quickly established that the benefits would no longer be realised. Something which a great deal of organisations and project managers need to embrace – the emphasis, quite rightly was refocused on what they hope to achieve rather than just carrying on for the sake of it. The second section which addresses the files introduced throughout the process such as structuring and PIDs etc gives a deeper insight into why they are required and again because they are referring to the scenario in the first section they are easy to understand and contextualise.


There wasn’t a great deal missing at all – in fact it reads really clearly and as such is difficult to put down; however some of the additional text which makes the book more novel like did begin to get a little boring and could have been reduced as the book progressed.

Who might benefit from the Book

Everyone will benefit from this book, whether you think you don’t need to know anymore about how to manage projects (this is covered in the book) to the beginner who may find the PM terminology a little hard to grasp initially as the book really gets to the roots of what, why, where, how.


This book appears to be aimed at those new to project management – however once you read it you may recognise some behaviours from your own business in there, especially as they originally thought they were doing really well. They were making money so what was the problem? It quickly transpired that the business was losing a lot of money on projects, but addressed this in a step by step manner – something all businesses could learn from. Therefore I believe it is relevant to all levels of experience and is certainly a step away from all the other books out there.If you have a list of books to read, this should be on it. It is something which can be read on the tube and is certainly one I would recommend for reference libraries in the office. Taking a fresh approach to a case study and giving that extra background really adds to reinforcing the need for structure in programmes and projects, even the very experienced will learn something, especially on the softer skills side of things.

Agile Project Management for Government – book review for APM Project Magazine

In Agile Project Management for Government, Brian Wernham refers to three main agile approaches, providing examples of how combining these produces a rounded guidance to how governments should work. He claims this is the first book of its kind and, by demonstrating successes, hopes to change the minds of those leading Government projects to a proven approach. By working closely with global project management leaders and sponsors, Wernham has successfully managed to convince me that an approach which delivers the earliest benefit, receiving honest feedback on what actually works and changing as you go along – rather than sticking to rigid process – can yield a much more realistic benefit to large and complex pieces of work. Another key element is not being afraid to close down projects which simply will not be delivered or have become – or by the time they are delivered will become – obsolete.
Agile Project Management for GovernmentThe book is broken down into three parts: Stories of Agile Success in Government; The 9 Agile Leadership Behaviours; The 6 barriers to Agile Success.
There are 23 chapters containing real case studies and various aspects of approach such as change, leadership, organisation and contracts.
For those new to Agile, this book gives a good overview and easy to understand description of what Agile is and why it can play a key role in successful delivery.

I particularly liked the chapter on `work face-to-face’, which broke down the different elements of communicating in a physical sense and concluded with some leadership exercises which could be utilised in the government environment but, practically, these could be used in any organisation.
It is more than a book about Agile, it’s an essential piece of learning kit. I think the writing style is easy for anyone to get to grips with, which makes the content easier to embrace also. The author has really taken the time to consider elements of projects and explain how they were a success, without moving away from the fact that – regardless of any approach – leadership is the basis of any triumphant release. Everyone working within the IT project management domain will benefit from reading this book, especially those who have had little or no exposure to Agile.

Agile Project Management for Government is a must-have for IT project management professionals – a book which you can keep close to hand as a reference when starting up new projects (and indeed identifying projects which need closing down). It’s definitely worth picking up to read and returning to over time.

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This review has been publish in the Jan 2013 edition of APM Project Magazine.