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5 Best Project Management Books for Beginners and Accidental Project Managers

Published by Vera  |  Wednesday, 02 January, 2013
Have you just embarked on project management and feel like you lack some expertise for your career? Although there is a great selection of professional literature to help you fill in the blanks, it seems tricky to find a book that would be both useful, easy to understand and exciting, right?
But trust us, there are ones that will hold you from cover to cover! To save you from time-consuming searches, we put together top five project management books that are praised for their practical value and good style by the project management community, or helped us in our own experience. Please note that it’s not a ranking. The order of the books is pretty much random. 

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management
by Scott Berkun
Theory aside, let’s get straight to action. This book is a practical guide on developing your every idea into a successful project. In easy and informal language, Scott Berkun, a project management guru, popular author and blogger, offers tips for various stages of project execution, from project vision to measuring your project’s results.
The book begins with the words “My favorite word in the English is how. How does this work? How was this made? How did they do this?” Find the answers to lots of project management “how’s” under this cover.
     Key takeaways:
  • Field-tested philosophies and strategies standing behind successful projects
  • Inspiring quotes to write down on sticky notes

The Lazy Project Manager: How to Be Twice As Productive and Still Leave the Office Early 
by Peter Taylor
They say lazy men make progress. Thus, a project manager’s laziness can actually be the driving force behind the project’s success. Are you curious to know how?
In this book, Peter Taylor, a project management practitioner with 30 years of professional experience, answers this question, using the 80/20 rule. To put it simple, this all is about a pleasant ratio of working less to getting more done. You can learn more about Peter’s methods in the interview he gave for the Project Management 2.0 blog by Wrike’s CEO.
     Key takeaways:
  • Case studies from successful project management practitioners
  • Neat freehand charts summarizing some key points – can be shared with your peers
  • Anecdotes you can pick up to entertain your colleagues during lunch break

The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive
by Terri L. Griffith

Terri L. Griffith, a professor of management and technology expert, suggests an interesting concept of being involved in each one of the three work dimensions - people, technology and organizational processes – simultaneously. In project management, it’s mission-critical to keep the team, tools and processes in a good balance. Read the book and discover if you can define yourself as “plugged in.”
     Key takeaways:
  • Insight into efficient ways of leveraging technology in team and work management
  • Interesting advice from first-hand interviews with exceptional “plugged-in” leaders

Project Pain Reliever: A Just-In-Time Handbook for Anyone Managing Projects
by Dave Garrett
As many as 36 seasoned project managers, including popular authors Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Harrin, Cornelius Fichtner and Wrike CEO Andrew Filev, got together to share solutions for many common project management challenges.
How to motivate your project team? Where to start if every task is a "top priority?"  This handbook answers these and many other questions, as well as entertains you with funny project management stories.
     Key takeaways:
  • Working solutions for common  project management challenges
  • Expert insights on how to handle situations when a project doesn’t match textbook scenarios

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
by Project Management Institute
If you’re into theory, this book might be what you’re looking for. It’s official: You‘re looking at the world's de facto standard in project management. In this book, the world’s leading professional association in project management (PMI) provides an essential guide to basic concepts and vocabulary.
Most professionals in project management start their education with this process-based guide to get a complete overview of the sphere and to get better equipped for their project management journey.
     Key takeaways:
  • A to Z reference to common project management terminology and knowledge areas
  • Solid basis to get prepared for professional certification if you decide to take it later

Bonus: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg

Finally, we would like to offer a little bonus: This book might not directly train your project management skills, but it’s been the favorite of Wrike’s team in 2012. We hope it might be inspiring for your new beginnings.
Duhigg’s book is focused on the idea that understanding people’s habits isn’t just interesting, but is extremely practical. Not only in personal life, but in the business world, too.
     Key takeaways:
  • Techniques for fine-tuning your own habits (working habits, too!)
  • Examples of leveraging the power of habit in projects
  • Awareness of things you probably don’t know about yourself

Are there any other important books you think should've been here? 

Want to do more in less time? Learn how to fight 3 most common productivity killers and turn your team into rock stars!

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