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Book Review: Project Management – A Benefit Realisation Approach

The book “Project Management – A Benefit Realisation Approach” by Ofer Zwikael and John R. Smyrk covers a lot of ground in 325 pages and 12 short chapters. The book can be better organized from project conceptualization to its closure and further on obtaining the benefits from the implementation of the project. While reading the book, I feel that the authors are jumping from one topic to another and it seems the authors are little disoriented. The first eleven chapters of the book focus on different aspects of the project including project selection, project attractiveness – a new phrase for the project value, success criteria, project planning, and execution. Contrary to what is mentioned in the forward that the “emphasis of this book is concentrated on obtaining the benefits” the chapter 12 – sole chapter on benefit realization – has merely scratched the surface on this vastly untouched topic. Nevertheless, the book has introduced several new phrases within the old paradigm of project management.

Most of the readers will wonder the contrast to the extent of misleading between the book title and the subject area covered. For example, I fail to understand the link between project governance and benefit realization. However, the last 4 pages of this chapter discuss the “Program Governance” and benefit realization does fall into the governance of the coordinated projects also known as Programs. Furthermore, stakeholder management and risk management are not the topic of benefit realization and should be separated. The book, on one side, does not cover in detail about the benefit realization and on the other side, it does not provide all the details of the project management such as cost management, quality management or schedule management.

As a seasoned project management professional, I liked chapter 8 – Project Success most. Although the chapter does not provide a lot of details about the defining the success criteria, measuring techniques and measurement timeline but its great attempt to provide an overview of the topic. Another interesting chapter is chapter 7 – Project Attractiveness. To be honest, this is the first time I have heard this term. I did not find much information about this term on the internet as well but I gather that it used mostly for the financial investment projects. However, the chapter provides sufficient information to get the bird’s eye view of the concept.

This book is definitely not focused on the benefit realization but it is worth reading for those who are starting into the area of project management and want to understand the concept of project management. For them, the authors have provided a great deal of information about project planning and project execution. It will lay the groundwork on the certain concept of project management such as stakeholder management or risk management. This book certainly does not provide the complete details and aspects of the project management and it barely subject on benefit realization.

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