Book review: Project Management for SMEs

smeGren Gale wrote the book ‘Project Management for SMEs’. Having cartoons and starting quotes makes the book easy to read. The book is divided in five chapters.

A small introduction Chapter 1 introduces projects, explaining the need for a project manager and a case showing you have to use a form of project management.

Chapter 2, how to deliver projects, is the main part of the book. The author describes his own eight stage waterfall delivery process:

  1. Business Case
  2. start-up
  3. Analysis
  4. Design
  5. Build
  6. Test
  7. Implement
  8. Closure

For each stage you get an IPO model (input, process/activities, output). The author explains his own best practices to be used in those stages.

The final part of this chapter focusses on agile versus waterfall. It gives pros and cons for both approaches. The book focusses on Scrum as the agile framework. I see Scrum as a delivery framework and not a project management framework. DSDM is mentioned but not explained and DSDM (AgilePM) is an example of an agile project management framework. The author embeds the agile sprints in his delivery framework as mini design/build/test steps and have an additional integration test before the implementation stage.

The third part focusses on project governance. You get an overview of all needed documents to manage a project as well as an overview of governance roles and responsibilities. I would not put the Project Owner in the same box as Senior Supplier. I would even keep it separate from the Senior User. I see the PO as the Change Authority positioned in one or more development teams. Next paragraphs focusses on Risk and issue management, change control and quality. The last paragraph emphasises on the benefits of portfolio management supported by a Project Office.

Chapter 4 explains the soft skills communication, people management and crisis management.

In the last chapter you get the author’s key points you need to be aware of, and you get all mentioned document layouts and a glossary.


According to the author he used PRINCE2 and the PMBoK (PMI) as a starting point. For me the question why the author creates a new project life cycle? One of his arguments is the fact that these methodologies are designed to manage huge programmes. I don’t agree, you can tailor PRINCE2 in such a way that it can be used for small projects too.

Also unclear why the author made the division between Business Case, Start-up, Analysis and Design. Confusing if you are familiar with PRINCE2. Now we get a PID as a result of the Start-up stage. I would say, start with Start-up and deliver an outline business case. In the next stage you perform the analysis and design and deliver a PID including a more detailed Business Case. It’s for small projects, so why four stages, keep it simple. Also having a first stage without a project manager and a project sponsor but defining the scope and a first project plan looks rather strange.

To buy: Project Management for SMEs

2 responses to “Book review: Project Management for SMEs

  1. Henny. Many thanks for the review. You’ve pointed out an error in the text regarding when the project manager is appointed – I’ll be fixing that shortly. The issue with PRINCE2 is that it’s intentionally divorced from the realities of developing products or delivering services. It tells you to start a project, then initiate it, then run a number of stages and finally close it. PRINCE2 doesn’t address the need for Analysis, Design or Testing stages and it rather confusingly has a start-up stage followed by an initiate stage (try a thesaurus start and initiate are synonyms). So I don’t believe I’ve invented a new approach, rather I’ve filled in the gaps that you need in the real world that PRINCE2 fails to address and put this across far more succinctly than PRINCE2 – 121 6×9 pages, rather than the 326 pages of A4 that comprises PRINCE2.

    Of course you can combine the stages I describe, but the message I’m trying to get across is don’t start the project unless you’ve first built a business case and don’t start build unless you’re clear what the requirements are (analysis) and you’ve done your design work. Plus of course test it before it hits the real world.

    Yes an SME PM could go on a PRINCE2 course, cut the methodology down to size and then fill in the gaps, but that’s going to be expensive and time consuming …hence my book.

  2. Pingback: Overview of my year 2016 book reviews | Henny Portman's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s