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on July 9, 2001
Excellent, excellent, excellent! If your a Project Manager who delivers web-based projects, then this book should definetly be in your collection. If your new to the world of Project Management for the internet, then this is the FIRST book you should read. Forget whatever negative comments you may read on this rating list, because those who dare to be critical have probably never delivered a web-based project. This book gives you a good base from which to start your research; giving you a good overview of the most important concepts, along with a reference section to help you along the way. If your trying to decide between this book and another...then take it from an experience PM when I tell you that you should choose this one first.
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on April 12, 2001
We were made to buy this book for a class in "Document Design & Information Management" and we were using this book as a reference for the class about making and maintaining a portal page. This book was full of org. charts, Dilbert cartoons, case studies and nice graphics and that is about it. It lacks real information and misses information about the actual feasibility of conducting a project. I did not like the book and felt I wasted my money after reading it and gave me the feel as if this book was more suited to a high school class than it was actual project management.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 28, 2001
This book is not about project management. In fact, someone versed in the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge will cringe at some of the statements made in the book (more about that below). It is, however, about delivering successful commercial web sites and it provides the best approach I have ever seen.
Here are some of the things that make this not only unique, but the most authoritative book I have read on the subject:
(1) It is not an IT centric book that focuses on technical issues. The author brings to the forefront the real critical success factors in the form of four equal sets of requirements: commercial, creative, content and technical. In 2000 I was a member of a multi-million dollar dot com project team for a large international company, and from that experience I totally agree with the author's view.
(2)The author manages to balance the time-to-market pressures that permeate commercial web projects with the by-the-numbers method imposed by IT. As such, this book addresses the development life cycle from inception to production by aligning implementation to development life cycle stages. It manages to accomplish this and still cut the project's cycle time by removing any fluff. What is fluff? The tons of non-essential paperwork produced by some of the larger consulting companies. What is not missing are the essentials, as evidenced by the repeated emphasis on testing, the attention given to configuration and change management, and the realities of post-implementation support. These are extremely important and are too often overlooked.
(3) The project controls that are proposed in this book are exceptional. While the author muddles through stuff like the proper definition of critical path, he shows how to effectively control a project by managing to deliverables. Contrast this with the common mistake of managing to a schedule and you will see the real effectiveness of his methods. So, while he misses the mark on some project management fundamentals, he sure makes up for it in pragmatism. He also makes up for his "transgressions" by laying out a project roadmap that, if followed, will guarantee success. If we project management "purists" lighten up a bit while reading this stuff we might learn a trick or two.
The big surprise is the author is not an IT professional - his background is TV producer! Or, perhaps it's not a surprise at all considering the fact that there is no room for failure or missed production schedules in the TV industry, while the IT profession is notorious for massive schedule and cost overruns. What impressed me greatly is the wide range of technical issues that are addressed: browser compatibility, content formats, scripting languages, etc. For someone without an IT background the author demonstrates a solid grasp of real-life issues and gotchas.
Those of us in IT need to carefully read the parts that address creative and content management. We are used to working with technical peers from vendors - working with copywriters and artists requires a wholly different way of interacting and communicating. Moreover, content needs to be treated in an entirely different matter than data, and it also comes with an array of legal issues that we are not trained to think about.
What I discovered , despite my previous involvement with a commercial web project, is there are so many factors I had never considered prior to reading this book that most projects are flying blind. As such, this book should be read by every team member, creative, content (artists and copywriters), technical, legal and commercial (marketing)*before* undertaking such a project. This will ensure that the entire team sees the big picture and understands the complex interrelationships, and all issues and factors are addressed. Mr. Friedlein deserves the highest accolades for making what I believe to be the most significant contribution to this field. My only regret is that I am limited to 5 stars.
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on March 21, 2001
Rushing wildly to develop Web sites as fast as possible, the industry of Web development has until now avoided developing any standard work methods for itself. Now, Ashley Friedlein has filled that void with 302 pages of method, in a book titled Web Project Management. After you've bought it and studied it thoroughly you'll know how Web development should work. ArsDigita founder Philip Greenspun is correct in his back-cover declaration that "a lot of people will end up owing their jobs to this book".
Make no mistake; it's a readable textbook with a few light touches, rather than an amusing memoir. The hyper-prosaic title reflects Friedlein's style. He has focused on the essentials. In doing so, he has nailed all four of the characteristics that a book of this type needs:
* It covers Web project management from end to end. After pinpointing what makes a good project manager, it moves through project stages from preproduction all the way to post-project evaluation. The book's table of contents is itself a solid checklist of the tasks you'll need to cover in a typical Web project.
* It covers issues in necessary detail. The pages on budgeting, for instance, include such issues as checking for software licensing gotchas like per-processor software pricing. There's a simple, sensible example of how to implement version control on project documents. Such detail is particularly important in a field like Web project management, which is recruiting from fields as diverse as C++ software development and TV journalism.
* It's authoritative. Time and time again, Friedlein pinpoints the key issues in a specific Web project management task. His three-page table comparing the strengths and weaknesses of various site activity measures is the pithiest around. The section on that relatively little-known field called content management homes straight in in on the toughest issues - total cost of ownership, standards compliance and performance. In many places, he uses concepts (for instance, detailed technical specifications) established during the past thirty-odd years of software development.
* It's realistic. Friedlein understands how unpredictable and changeable Web projects are. Rather than decrying the fact, he outlines ways of responding to change and spotting risk areas. This realism shows through clearly in his single, highly detailed and candid case study - an account of building [a web site]. It also shows through in countless specific pieces of well-informed advice. ("Usually the most time-consuming part of creating a database-driven Web application is getting the data itself in the specified format and structure and getting it clean.")
Friedlein delivers these four essentials with a discipline which would win him respect from project managers in any industry. Yes, he makes the standard noises about Web project management's unique challenges. But he also borrows extensively from the wisdom and rigour which software project managers have developed over the past third of a century. And beyond that, he understands the unchanging project management challenge: that change breeds chaos, and that project management can tame this chaos by setting clear task agendas. It's this management mindset that should ensure the Friedlein volume supplants Jessica Burdman's 1999 volume Collaborative Web Development.
Friedlein's background suggests he was born to the task rather than trained for it: he spent time as a television producer before jumping to the Web around 1997. But his employer, the large UK new media agency (now Wheel) clearly exposed him to practices more rigorous than were in use in most late-nineties Web development shops.
Why has Web Project Management not already garnered acclaim and bestseller status? Largely because its author lives and works in Britain, denying him and his publishers the opportunity to schmooze directly and full-time with the US West Coast digerati. This book's lack of fame gives you all the more opportunity to get a jump on other Web project managers.
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on January 23, 2001
This has been the best piece of literature on Web Project Management that I've found anywhere. It provides a proven method you can feel confident to apply in your Web projects, and goes over a case study where it is applied.
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on January 7, 2001
This book is great, and will definitely help me do a better job as a web project manager. Friedlin's writing style is informative and easy to understand - the book is hard to put down! The examples presented are real-world. I've lived through several similar project ups & downs described in the book. This should be required reading for anyone in the field.
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on December 15, 2000
To date we have had to rely upon general project management works or those coming from software engineering. But we know that web development is different and difficult. There are so many concurrent projects and tasks, such crazy timeframes, so little client knowledge, such stress around scope creep, such demand to capture and reuse successful solutions, and no time to take stock.
Perhaps it's because most web project managers are so overwhelmed by the task they are simply too exhausted by the time the latest site is launched to even celebrate, let alone write a book.
This is the book I've been waiting for, placing the order on spec a couple of months before publication. It seems that no-one had written anything comprehensive previously - although Jessica Burdman's Collaborative Web Development is very informative, while covering a broader scope.
Friedlein writes with clarity. The book is practical, jargon free, and the words easy to digest. It clearly comes from a practitioner, not an academic or teacher. There is also no Jakob Nielsen pontification.
I found the benefits to be as follows: * It enabled me to reflect upon my company's web development processes and to identify areas of improvement. * It provided reinforcement for my concern that we were not expending sufficient resources in the planning, solution design and specification stages (pre-production). * It enabled expansion of my client's requirements checklist. * It gave me a new term: "virtuous spiral" - to graphical illustrate our need to do more to maintain, review and evaluate our client's sites after handover.
I particularly enjoyed the extensive case study - the Channel 5 project (although bemused that they ended up with a frames and Flash site). This left me thirsting for more of these reality checks.
Ashley Friedlein's company works on larger web projects than mine. While he has $500,000 jobs - our average is $50,000. Our company is much smaller at 60 knowledge workers. The result is less clarity of roles, need for production staff to be always across multiple teams and the joys of project managers juggling up to 10 projects at a time. The problems relating to organising projects in small web companies are not directly addressed - and I suggest a tome focused on this market could be a great success.
Friedlein places a greater deal of emphasis on managing content than I would have expected - although I'm thankful for it. However, in relation to our company practice, he seems to underplay the importance of managing the information architecure and interface design.
He places prototyping in the Production phase. In our company this falls within the solution design/specification stages of pre-production. Content is placed in Production where I would make it span both pre-production and production phases, so that as much content as possible is web ready before the build.
The book is subtitled "delivering successful commercial web sites". Emphasis is thus given to the e-commerce environment, while my company is much more concerned with community development and informational sites. By hey the former is where the market is - for now.
I believe this is an excellent read that is both relevant to project managers new to the web, and anyone in web development who wants clarity on what needs to be done to better manage projects and organise the production process.
What we need in order to build upon this book is a Web Project Managers' "portal" site. Here we could locate the available resources, exchange our case studies, problems, ideas etc - anyone interested?
PS. I am currently reading "90 Days to Launch: internet projects on time and on budget" by Shayne F. Gilbert. IMHO it's not a stratch on Mr Friedlein's book.
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on November 22, 2000
This is a great book for the entrepenure wanting to start a web design company!
The only thing I would recommend adding in the next version would be some more picts or Dilbert strips ;)
Anyways, I would definently pick this bad boy up ;)
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on October 23, 2000
I started reading on Friday. What can I say... it changed my expectation from the mundane task of ploughing through the obligatory text excercise book, to reading an enjoyable and brilliantly styled insight into something I do day in day out. Buy it.
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