Posts, Project Management

5 Best Project Management Books for Beginners and Accidental Project Managers

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 your attention from cover to cover! To save you from time-consuming searches, we put together a list of five top project management books that are praised for their practical value and good style by the project management community, or have helped us in our own experience.
*Please note this is a random list, not a ranking. 

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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, popular author, blogger, and project management expert, offers tips for various stages of project execution, from project vision to measuring 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 behind successful projects
    • Inspiring quotes to post on your desk

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. 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 simply, this all is about a pleasant ratio of working less while 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 CEO Andrew Filev.

     Key takeaways:

  • Case studies from successful project management practitioners
  • Neat freehand charts summarizing some key points that can be shared with your peers
    • Amusing anecdotes 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, management professor and technology expert, teaches managers how to stay involved in each of the three work dimensions: people, technology and organizational processes. In project management, it’s mission-critical to balance your team, tools and processes. 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.

What’s the best way to motivate your project team? Where should you start if every task is a “top priority?” This handbook answers these and many other questions, and entertains you with funny project management stories.

     Key takeaways:

  • Working solutions for common  project management challenges
    • Expert insights into 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 just what you’re looking for. This is 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 become better equipped for their project management careers.

     Key takeaways:

  • A to Z reference to common project management terminology and knowledge areas
    • Solid basis to get prepared for professional certification

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 recommendation: this book might not directly train for project management skills, but it’s the favorite of Wrike’s team for 2012.

Duhigg’s book is based on the idea that understanding people’s habits isn’t just interesting, but extremely practical. And not just in your personal life, but in the business world, too.     

Key takeaways:

    • Techniques for fine-tuning your own habits (work habits included!)
    • How to leverage the power of habit in projects
    • Awareness of things you probably don’t know about yourself

What other books would you recommend to new project managers?

Let us know what you book you think every new project manager should read in the comments below!

Read next: The Ultimate Guide to Project Management

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