Review of: Agile Project Management for Dummies

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Title

Agile Project Management for Dummies

Author

Mark C. Layton, MBA, CST, PMP, SCPM,

Format I read it in

Audible on Amazon. Narrated by Sean Pratt

What is this book for? 

While there are many companies out there that have a well-trodden Agile path, there are even more that have not made the plunge yet and are still solidly trudging along the Waterfall route to delivery. Sometimes that is the right thing to do – but in many cases there is plenty of evidence to indicate that a well-thought out and business-supported Agile approach will improve speed of delivery.

Like most ‘for Dummies’ books there is a implicit suggestion that the reader may not know a lot about the subject and is looking to expand their actionable knowledge on the topic.

What did I like?

The book covers all the stages of Agile delivery in a methodical way; lots of bullet points and lists and reminders of what to do. There is a good explanation of the Agile manifesto at the start and the author goes to some effort to provide background on the origins of Agile as a framework.

The final chapter has some really good pointers for finding other Agile resources and communities on the web.

I also liked the fact that this book has been converted to Audible. I find it easier to listen to technical information from these types of books as opposed to read them page by page. Generally I tend to listen to these on my morning commute as I find it fires my braincells up and the new information is more likely to stick than at any other time of the day.

What did I dislike?

This book should be renamed ‘Mostly SCRUM with a brief mention of other frameworks for Dummies.’ Given that there is a SCRUM for Dummies written by the same author I would have hoped to see a more rounded approach; more detail about LEAN and XP would have been nice.

The book is extremely rote (which I find a slight irony given the subject matter). There is a lot of slightly evangelistic preaching which strongly comes across as  ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ commandments  – this turns me off somewhat as I do not think that delivery frameworks  can be absolute in this manner.. Additionally I found the content to be extremely repetitive if read from cover-to-cover – but if used as reference material then this approach is far more logical as it will serve as more of a aide memoire to dip into from time to time.

As a Environment Manager I was a little disappointed that there was next to no mention of management practices in this area – beyond the standard ethos of ‘automate it and your problems go away.’

Overall impression

As someone who is unfamiliar with SCRUM, this book provided some solid indication of how work flows through Delivery and the roles vital for the job. I do wonder if the actual SCRUM for Dummies book would have been a better read if that was what I was specifically interested in however.

I would have liked to see a LOT more case studies and real word examples as I think this would have lent weight to the ‘rules’ and given a more nuanced view of how different businesses have interpreted and applied the methods.

I probably wouldn’t choose to buy this book as I do not find this method (rote bullet points and lists) the easiest to get to grips with – but I would borrow it if it was in a work library. If you prefer to work within a very structured set of guidelines then this is a good book for a starter. It would also be a useful resource for teams moving to SCRUM as the lists and bullet points can be easily pulled out and used as visual reminders for best practice


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