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11 January 2010

Learning Project Management

Pawel Brodzinski has been blogging at his blog "Software Project Management" for several years.  He's generously agreed to write some posts here at Better Projects.  Here is the first.

This question hits me regularly from time to time: “Where one can learn about project management?

Books

The most natural answer would be pointing some books but until you know whole background it’s hard to choose something suitable. You won’t advise book about Scrum for someone working in highly-formalized corporation employing Prince-2. Usually I choose safe way and point to Scott Berkun’s Making Things Happen which should work for everyone. At least significant parts, if not whole book, should.

The problem with books is you often can’t get specific answers relevant to your situation. You know, answers for questions like “We’re doing this and that and would like to go there – anyone went that path before and is willing to share the story?

AskAboutProjects

There’s a site I recently fell in love with which helps here. AskAboutProjects goes on famous StackOverflow engine and is all about projects. You can ask every, even the most basic question, and it will be answered almost for sure. You don’t even need to register but you probably will to use awesome reputation system. Why not some forum on one of PM-related sites you ask? Well, the short answer is classic forums suck. Usability is a nightmare and there’s virtually no support to promote good answers over mediocre ones. Oh, just go check AskAboutProjects, you’ll get what I’m talking about in a minute.

PM Clinic

Another knowledge exchange place which I value very high is PM Clinic. This is totally old-school tool – a mailing list. What keeps me there is probably highest signal-to-noise ratio around and some very experienced people sharing their knowledge. If you look for basics that’s not the best place to go, but if know what this whole project management thing is all about and you’d like to get some from-the-trenches expertise PM Clinic is your destination.

Blogs

There are blogs too – you’re reading one, right? Blogs share the problem of books a bit – you land wherever author wants to drive you. I won’t put here list of my favorites – you can check them in links section on my blog. You should do the same with other bloggers you respect and then find those who you like.

Twitter

And there’s of course Twitter which I left for the end. That’s a complete opposite to PM Clinic: signal-to-noise ratio is very low. That doesn’t mean there’s no value in Twitter. You just have to learn how to judge quickly what is worth clicking and what is not. Otherwise you’d be wasting tons of time on Twitter. The great thing about Twitter is a surprise factor – you’ll find from time to time a real gem in the stream which you wouldn’t find otherwise because you wouldn’t know you should ask about it.

That works for me when it comes to looking for project management knowledge. How about you?