Project management is a critical competency for any successful organization (PDF). The second half of the twentieth century saw a huge boom in project management as a studied discipline. A wide range of methods and practices have been championed, from the command-and-control waterfall of the Rational Unified Process (PDF) to the breakneck speed of Extreme Programming.
Some people plan to become project managers, but most in the profession became project managers by accident. Often, developers, designers, or documenters move into project management as they become more experienced, or when their leadership skills are recognized. Lots of people are doing the job of project managers, but aren’t formally called that. So, a lot of PMs start managing their first project without really any training or theoretical knowledge about the topic.
To help project managers get up to speed as quickly as possible, we have collected the best resources for learning how to manage projects, along with the most popular project management tools, and other resources.
Project Management Tutorials and Courses
- Tutorials on Project Management Concepts is a set of tutorials from Tutorials Point, giving a high-level overview of the most important ideas and trends in modern project management.
- Free Online Project Management Course is a twelve-chapter online book that walks through each major stage in project management.
- The Project Planning Process is a concise explanation of the steps undertaken in a well-managed project.
- Introduction to Project Management covers the history and most important aspects of modern project management.
- Introduction to Project Management is a six-week, self-paced course from the Univeristy of Adelaide, offered through edX. You can take the course for free, or purchase a certificate that verifies your completion.
- Project Management 101: The Complete Guide to Agile, Kanban, Scrum and Beyond is detailed overview of the history of modern project management, along with a comparison of the most popular project management systems and methodologies.
- Introduction to Project Management Principles and Practices is a three-course track at Coursera, created by the University of California, Irvine Extension program.
Additional Learning Resources and Special Topics
- Project Management Tools is a collection of tutorials on essential project management methods.
- Udemy has a number of courses on project management, including courses designed to prepare PMs for PMP Certification.
- Lynda has a wide array of project management courses, covering everything from Agile methodology to managing international projects.
- The PM Podcast is a popular podcast focused on project management, career development, best practices, and related topics.
- The blog at CIO.com frequently published excellent articles about project management and related topics.
- Project Smart is a news and information blog and online resource center for project managers.
Notable Project Management Applications
There are a lot of project management apps, and more coming into the market every day. These are notable because they are particularly popular, or particularly interesting.
- Asana is a flexible task-oriented project management system that allows users to work for multiple organizations from the same login. Asana is one of the most popular SaaS PM systems right now, and is perfect for distributed teams and freelance workers. (The WhoIsHostingThis team uses Asana; we like it a lot.)
- Basecamp is a very popular, easy to use project management app focused on group collaboration. The team behind the development of Basecamp is distributted, which has influenced the design of the software, making it especially well suited for remote work and distributed, asyncronous teams.
- Trello is an innovative card-based project management app that captures the flexible “Post-it Notes and Whiteboard” feeling of analog planning in an online form.
- Microsoft Project is the canonical project management application for the enterprise. To get a sense of how MS Project works, check out the How to Start a Project in Microsoft Project tutorial.
- Casual is a visual project management app that makes task dependency and critical path analysis simple.
- Mavenlink is an online project management application with resource planning and strategic management insights.
- Wrike is an online project management system with typical “Enterprise” features like Gantt charts and workload management.
- Projectplace is an Enterprise-focused online PM tool that features Gannt charts, Kanban boards, document management, and other premium features.
- LiquidPlanner is an online project management system designed for technology teams. It’s most unique feature is its easy-to-use predictive tools, helping you understand best- and worst-case project completion timelines.
- Pivotal Tracker focuses on Agile methods.
- Function Point is a project management system designed for ad agencies and design studios.
- Planio is an Agile PM tool useful for Scrum, Kanban, or XP.
- Redbooth is a project management system that can be used as a SaaS app or hosted locally, featuring HD Video chat.
- Projecturf is a realtime collaborative workspace and project management suite.
- Paymo is a project management app for small businesses, with integrated timesheet and accounting.
- Teamwork is a suite of apps that provide project management, helpdesk, and group chat capabilities.
- Podio is a project management system that integrates with other services like Google Drive and Dropbox, records meetings and chat conversations, allows you to define complex relationships between projects, and has custom reporting tools.
- Dapulse is a collaborative project management app that encourages use with visual recognition of completed projects.
- Blossom is a software project management app designed for distributed teams.
- Matterhorn is a flexible project management application that lets team members customize how they view and visualize their projects.
- Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-based project management system.
Community, Networking, and Professional Development
- PMI the Project Management Institute is the most well-recognized professional organization for project management. They offer the highly regarded PMP certification.
- ProjectManagement.com is a blog, library, and network for project managers, run by PMI.
- IPMA is the International Project Management Association. They offer certifications, education, conferences, networking, and other resources for project managers.
- Association for Project Management is a UK-based professional organization for project managers.
Books on Project Management
There are so many good books on project management, that it’s hard to know what should be included. We’ve put together a list of essential classics, personal favorites, and titles that offer a unique perspective.
- 10 Steps to Successful Project Management (2007), by Lou Russel, is an easy-to-read, highly practical book that lays out a simple method for project management that works across any industry or development methodology.
- Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide (2012), by Greg Horine, is an excellent introduction to the many aspects of project management, from budgeting to planning to keeping work on track. Moreover, there is a focus on leading, and not just managing.
- Bare Bones Project Management: What You Can’t Not Do (2006), by Bob Lewis, is a short book designed for people who need to do project management as a part of another role. This book covers just the essentials — the things you can’t not do.
- Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (2008), by Scott Berkun, is a critically-acclaimed collection of essays on the theory and practice of project management.
- Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme (2013), by Robert K. Wysocki, is an authoritative look at the three most common project management paradigms, from a long-time practitioner. This book is frequently used in business school classes on project management.
- Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process (2012), by Lyons and Wilker, is a funny, engaging, and practical look at project management for interactive media.
- The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management (2015), by Eric Verzuh, is an in-depth look at the process, procedures, tools, and theory of project management. Rather than promoting a single preferred way of doing project management, this book is intended as a survey of the field, as a stand-in for academic study of the topic.
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (2009), by the Project Management Institute, is required reading for anyone planing to take the Project Management Professional exam from PMI. It contains all the standard processes and terminologies that PMPs are expected to know. A bit dry and technical, but you really should have it on your shelf.
- Project Management For Dummies (2013), by Stanley Portny, is a practical book in its own right, but is especially helpful as a companion to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. This book offers clear, illustrated explanations of key concepts and terms, along with practical advice and informative case studies.
- Agile Project Management For Dummies (2012), by Mark Layton, is an easy, but in-depth, guide to the Agile methodology. A good place to start if you’re interested in Agile project management, but don’t really know what it is yet.
- Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (2009), by Jim Highsmith, covers basic Agile concepts in chapter one, and then goes on to apply those concepts to case studies and practical situations. Several chapters explore how Agile methods are manifested at each phase of the software development life cycle, and how to apply an Agile framework to an organization as a whole.
- Creative Project Management (2010), by Michael Dobson, goes beyond typical books on project management methodologies, explaining how to build creativity and innovative into the way a project is organized and executed.
- Agile Project Management: A Nuts and Bolts Guide to Sucess (2015), by Anthony C Mersino, covers Agile methods, and also the “spirit” of Agile — the hard-to-describe sensibility that great Agile teams have when approaching projects. The books also touches on how Agile methods can be used for on-software projects.
- Scrappy Project Management: The 12 Predictable and Avoidable Pitfalls Every Project Faces (2007), by Kimberly Wiefling, begins where most project management books leave off — when everything starts to go wrong. The author assumes that your projects are going to have problems, since all projects do, and then provides practical ways of avoiding those problems, mitigating their damage, and dealing with the problems that can’t be avoided.
- Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager (2015), by Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood is a book for people with any job title who find themselves taking on an unofficial project management role.
- Rolling Rocks Downhill: How to Ship YOUR Software Projects On Time, Every Time (2014), by Clarke Ching, is an unusual business book — it’s actually a novel. Inspired by Eli Godratt’s classic business novel, The Goal, this book gives you a “on the shoulders” view into the life of a project manager who’s is already behind schedule when a new, impossibly close goal is announced. The narrative provides an entertaining vehicle for delivering practical tips on project management.
- 101 Project Management Problems and How to Solve Them: Practical Advice for Handling Real-World Project Challenges (2010), by Tom Kendrick PMP, is a “cookbook” style collection of solutions to common issues encountered during project management.
- Project Management for Small Business: A Streamlined Approach from Planning to Completion (2011), by Joseph Phillips, deals with an aspect of project management generally under represented in the literature. Because project management as its own discipline g grew up in large enterprises, many of the methods and paradigms taught in books on the subject are only relevant to very large organizations. This book covers the issues faced by smaller organizations — for example, a single team member performing multiple project roles.
- What You Need to Know about Project Management (2011), by Fergus O’Connell, is a practical book focuses on the actual activities and methods of project management, instead of philosophical theories about it.
- Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process (2012), by Kenneth S. Rubin, is one of the clearest and most persuasive books on the Scrum process. It is a great book for understanding how to do Scrum properly, and also for helping convince management of the value of following the process in its entirety.
- The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering (1975), by Fred Brooks, is the classic book on software project management — and fun reading for anyone in the industry.
Project management is a complex topic — part art, part science, part politics, part technology. We hope these tutorials and resources will help you cut through the complexity and develop your skills as a project manager.
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to coding and development:
- MantisBT Introduction and Resources: learn all about this popular bug tracking program.
- Ubuntu Primer: get started with the popular Linux distribution — a great base for any kind of development.
- DotProject Introduction: find out about one of the most popular project management applications.
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