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Successful Project Management: Applying Best Practices and Real-World Techniques with Microsoft Project

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Projec t manageme nt has been around for centuries. After all, how do you think the Pyramids were built? Organizations have come to recognize that a lot of the work they do is project-oriented. And when they realize that good project management can save both time and money, that’s about the time that people like you receive the call to be a project manager.

You aren’t the only one. Membership in the Project Management Institute (PMI), a professional organization for project managers founded in 1969, reached 8,500 in 1990. Its membership topped 100,000 in 2003 and, by the end of 2010, was 330,000. More than 400,000 people have earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential.

If you have little or no formal education in project management, congratulations, you’ve become an accidental project manager. You probably earned the assignment because you’re dependable and good at organizing your work. However, you may have only a vague idea of what you’re supposed to do or what it takes to succeed. To compound the challenge, Microsoft Project can seem like a Japanese puzzle box—getting a handle on one feature leads to another feature that you don’t understand.

Even if you know your way around a Gantt chart and can build a decent schedule in Project, chances are that nagging problems come up on the projects you manage. That’s why project managers are so valuable. Nagging problems always come up on projects. By learning more about how to manage projects, you can prevent many problems and you can reduce the impact of many others. For example, scope creep is an all-too-common problem in which one small change to project scope after another sneaks into your plan until you have no chance of meeting your schedule or budget. Setting up a process for managing changes gives the project team the opportunity to say no to changes that aren’t that important and to say yes to important changes even if they require a little more time or a little more money.

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