Shortcomings of Current Project Time Management Literature

Over a period of years, ICS-Research has studied countless books on Project Time Management. While there are many good books on the shelves, at a broader level we are unable to escape the conclusion that, across the board, the state of Project Time Management literature leaves much to be desired.  Some books are simply poor, for one or more reasons inherent in the book itself. Other books, while perhaps good or even great, still suffer from not offering consistency with other good books … with respect to terminology, definitions, formulas, or even ideological differences.  Here is a short summary of our findings:

Individual Shortcomings

Individually, many books suffered from shortcomings such as the following:

  • Some Treatments Too General: Some (perhaps even most) books were written for the broadest possible market, no doubt hoping to sell more copies. Adopting the common Dominant Project Management belief that all projects are essentially the same regardless of industry, these books tended to remain above the details, where the practical nuances of different project management approaches would disintegrate the “recommended practices.”
  • Some Treatments Too Specific: Other books seemed to have a decided “angle” to them. Either they were written from the Owner’s perspective, from the Scheduling Practitioner’s perspective, from a Project Controls perspective, from a Project Management perspective, and so forth. Many were software-specific, some sponsored by a software vendor, or their licensed representative. Some were written with a blatant bias — toward cost, risk, or claims.
  • Some Treatments Outdated or Confusing: We found quite a few texts containing content that was grossly outdated or, worse still, confusing in their presentation of fairly complex and technical content.

Collective Shortcomings

Collectively, though, the overall assortment of available books suffer even more harmful shortcomings:

  • They Speak Different Languages: That is, each author seemed to have a different set of technical terms. Even when several authors used the same terms, they held different meanings for those common terms. Hence, what one called a Task another called an Activity. What one called Float, another called Slack. But even among those who used the same term, such as Leads and Lags or Critical Path, each had a different definition of the term. There was little to no consonance among these well-respected Project Time Management authorities.

  • They Hold to Different Ideologies: There are certainly many different ways to manage projects, and to accomplish Project Time Management. These texts lacked any real consistency from one to the next.