Book review: The One-Page Project Manager

Just finished reading the One-Page Project Manager from Clark Campbell. Definitely a book I like. It explains very thoroughly how to set-up and use a single page to communicate progress and issues to senior management (up), your project team (down) and your peers (out). The philosophy behind this book is the fact that senior managers usually only have time to read the highlights. They just cannot read all of a multi-page report; instead, they look for key indicators and the most vital information. And guess what, this is exactly the same I am using in my book ‘PRINCE2 in Practice, A practical approach to create project management documents (how to avoid bulky, inaccessible, standalone, and illegible documents). The One-Page Project Manager consists of five essential parts: Tasks (the how), Objectives (the what and the why), Timeline: the when, Cost (the how much) and the Owners (the who). The book guides you through twelve steps to construct the One-Page Project Manager including examples for every individual step. Very easy to follow and the book give you several key concepts and tips for project management related to the steps you have to take to fill in the One-Page Project Manager. For those who are using PRINCE2 some remarks to make their life easier. In this book Tasks are key. I would replace this with products or key deliverables. If you communicate to your executive that tangible products are reviewed on behalf of senior user or senior supplier and they approved that these products are according to agreed quality criteria you have a great story. Also the use of owners can be confusing. In this book the project manager (sometimes called executive or lead manager) and those who are responsible for specific tasks are called owner. I would propose to use project manager and team manager for these roles en leave the owner for the executive or project owner (he/she who is judging if it’s still worthwhile to finish the project). If the project is too big you can use the concept of multiple layers of the One-Page Project Manager by using a task breakdown. Here I would go for the PRINCE2 product breakdown, but the use of multiple layers will definitely work. If I look at the one-page highlight I described in ‘PRINCE2 in Practice’ I have the possibility to have KPIs on project and on deliverable level. In the One-Page Project Manager it’s a little bit difficult to show an early warning or problem with your project end-date when a specific deliverable, on the critical path, has a delay. In the example a subjective task was introduced: ‘Go live on time’. For me it was also not clear what to do when you can’t met the project deadline and the only solution is to postpone this deadline.

To summarize, this is definitely a book that I can recommend and I am going to use some of these ideas to improve the one-page highlight I am using. Connection of objectives to specific deliverables and team managers to specific deliverables is something I am going to add.

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