Project Management is a complex matter. The required skills range from business management to team organizations, from scheduling deadlines to problem-solving. There are many books available on the market and, especially if you are a beginner, you may be wondering where to start.
With this article, we want to provide a list of the best 10 Project Management Books in 2020. Some of them are specifically aimed at beginners, some at more advanced students. Some deal with specific aspects of project management, others cover every single phase of the project management processes, giving you a detailed overview of the subject. We have therefore divided the list into 6 books for beginners and 4 books for intermediate and advanced project managers. At the beginning of each section, we provide a short summary of the different books.
Also, in this list, you’ll find some books that are more suitable than others to help you get prepared for your CAPM or PMP certification exams (in case you are willing to attend them). Keep on reading to find out what are the 10 best Project Management Books and what are the most suitable for your level of knowledge and goals.
- 6 Project Management Books for Beginners
- 4 Project Management Books for Intermediate and Experienced Project Managers
- Final Thoughts
6 Project Management Books for Beginners
This is a textbook that can be more suitable for beginners, even though more advanced students or professionals can still find it useful. It provides the reader with every necessary information on how to plan and manage projects. Theories and concepts are accompanied by examples and practical techniques to give comprehensive knowledge about project management. The reader can choose whether to read this book from front to end or just pick the chapters that most interest him or her. Every chapter in fact is self-contained, and this is why it can be helpful for beginners that need to learn foundation concepts as well as people that want or need to review just certain topics.
What is interesting about this book it that it’s written in an easy-to-understand way; the author also uses some humor to make the reading easier and more pleasant.
The knowledge provided with this book is in accordance with the PMBOK Guide, however, students that are preparing their PMP certification exam should use it as a companion of the PMBOK rather than a substitute.
For more details on this book, read this review.
If you are searching for a book that allows you to learn all the different skills that you need to master to become a successful project manager, The Fast and Forward MBA in Project Management can suit you. It starts with an introduction that provides you with all the basic concepts and theories of project management and it goes on with more and more complex topics and aspects of the subject: project definition, project planning, and project control. It also includes a final part that covers some advanced topics like project coordination.
The book also includes a specific chapter on how to prepare for the PMP certification exam and gives access to a lot of material (templates and form) accessible and downloadable online. When preparing for the PMP certification exam though, this book alone can’t provide the proper preparation, but it is an excellent resource to be used in accordance with the PMBOK Guide and other learning resources such as courses or podcasts.
Read a full review of the book in this article.
Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide
- Author: Greg Horine
- Published: 2017
- 448 pages
As the title may suggest, this book is specifically aimed at beginners. Every information you need to understand project management is included in the various topics covered in the book, and no additional research would be needed. Every phase of the project management process is covered (an overview of the foundation concepts, project planning, project execution, and project control) and made as simple as possible. Keeping beginners in mind, the author intends to provide information in the clearest and easy-to-understand way.
Even though this is a beginner’s guide, the book includes a final part with more advanced tips and techniques. A specific chapter on how to prepare the PMP exam is also provided, but it’s not suitable to be your main resource when preparing for the exam. You would have to read the PMBOK and additional resources if the exam is your goal.
Read a detailed review of this book here.
An Introduction to Project Management
- Author: Kathy Schwalbe
- Published: 2017
- 514 pages
This is a perfect book to read together with the PMBOK Guide. While the PMBOK gives you the standard knowledge – which you need to learn if you want to pass the PMP certification exam – An Introduction to Project Management can help you understand the concepts and provides additional examples that can help you remember them. The book covers all the main stages of the project management process: project definition, project planning, project execution, project control, and project closure. Each phase is discussed in 2 to 3 chapters to give detailed information. At the end of each chapter, you’ll also find some useful resources like chapter summaries, questions, quizzes, and exercises.
Furthermore, when purchasing this book, you also get access to a free website where templates quizzes and more learning tools are available.
This is an easy read and excellent support to the PMBOK Guide. It’s perfect for beginners, but any project manager can consult it while she or he is working on a project.
Read this detailed review for more details.
Accidental Project Manager: Zero to Hero in 7 days
- Author: Ray W Fronhoefer
- Published: 2018
- 127 pages
Accidental Project Manager is perfect as a reader’s first book about project management. It’s different from the usual textbook: it uses a story to introduce the reader to the project management world.
In the story, the main hero – Rhett Sero – meets a project management consultant who introduces him to project management. Following Sero’s steps – who becomes a successful project manager during the course of 7 days – the reader can learn project management tools and techniques (one aspect, such as planning, execution, control, etc., for each day).
The book also shares a particular method called PROJECT. The author basically uses this acronym as a tool to understand and remember the foundations of project management.
Even though it is told as a story, the book contains lots of reference to the standard PMBOK Guide; plus, at the end of each chapter you’ll find a so-called Knowledge Nuggets that helps clarify the covered concepts. When you purchase the book you also get access to a lot of additional tools available online.
Read the full review here.
Successful Project Management
- Authors: Jack Gido, Jim Clements, Rose Baker
- Published: 2017
- 552 pages
This book is suitable for both beginners and more advanced students. It covers any phase of the initiation and management of projects while also giving a detailed overview of the foundation concepts of the subject.
Other than theoretical information and techniques on the main steps of the project management process (planning, executing, and controlling the project) the book provides useful practical examples that help the reader understand and remember the discussed concepts.
When purchasing this book, you can also get access to a lot of useful content (for both students and instructors): sample questions in an online version of a test bank called Cognero, and the Instructor and Student companion sites are available and accessible online.
Last but not least, each chapter of the book aligns with the PMI’s guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK).
Read more about this book in our detailed review.
4 Project Management Books for Intermediate and Experienced Project Managers
Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling
- Author: Harold Kerzner
- Published: 2017
- 848 pages
This book is written by a well-known expert: his work inspired the International Institute of Learning and Project Management Institute to establish the Kerzner International Project Manager of the Year Award (source). His book deals with the theoretical aspects of project management without deepening too much into practical tools and techniques.
This is a very detailed book with 21 chapters, each one including dozens of subchapters for a total of almost 900 pages. It can be very helpful to students that are preparing their PMP certification exam. To help align the provided knowledge with the PMBOK content, every chapter contains a final subchapter called “Studying Tips for the PMI Project Management Certification Exam.”
Even if it can be a challenging reading (it’s a very detailed and long book), it still useful to both beginners and more advanced students.
Check out the complete book review for more details.
Effective Project Management
- Author: Robert K. Wysocki
- Published: 2019
- 656 pages
Effective Project Management is a book for project management professional and intermediate or advanced level students. For the topics it deals with, it isn’t suitable for beginners. If you are completely new to project management you can find more useful books that discuss more basic concepts. Check the previously introduced guides, for instance. This book, instead, examines all the major project management methods: from the traditional ones (such as predictive or waterfall projects) to the interactive and agile approaches. A large part of the book, in fact, covers the traditional methods and the main stages of the project management process. A second part discusses some change-driven methods: Agile, Extreme and Hybrid project management models and frameworks. Other than a description of each method, the author also provides guidance on how to choose the most appropriate method for a given project.
Along with the theoretical notions, the book also provides examples and detailed case studies that show how to apply the concepts to real-world projects.
A companion website will also be available to those who purchase the book, where they can find exercises as well as additional case studies.
Continue reading the review here.
Project Management: Achieving Competitive Advantage
- Author: Jeffrey K. Pinto
- Published: 2019
- 592 pages
This book is a great resource to get comprehensive knowledge about project management. The book covers the main stages of the project management process: Project foundation, planning, implementation, and termination.
Together with concepts and theories, the book offers examples, case studies, and lessons on how to use some IT tools like MS Project. Additionally, it uses different types of methods to enhance the understanding of concepts: project exercises (readers are invited to develop a given project plan), cases discussed at the end of each chapter and more.
The book can be a perfect addition to working with the PMBOK Guide: each chapter contains a list of the corresponding standard knowledge areas from the PMBOK. Also, people preparing their PMP certification exam can find this book really helpful: they’ll find a set of sample PMP exam questions at the end of most chapters. This is a very effective way to test your knowledge while understanding what to expect for your exam.
Read the full review here.
Project Janitor: Cleaning Other Manager’s Mess
- Author: Jamal El Ali
- Published: 2018
- 136 pages
“Project Janitor” deals with a specific aspect of project management: how to recover failing projects. The book’s main goal is to share the author’s Four-Step Process meant to guide you to rescue any failing project and fix other managers’ mistakes.
This is a book that can be interesting for those who find themselves in a situation where they need to learn how to recover a project, but also to those who want to build a deeper knowledge of the project management matter and the connected risks.
Since it focuses on a specific and more advanced aspect of project management, this isn’t a book for beginners or students that are studying for their PMP certification exam. Project Manager Professionals, on the other hand, will find it extremely useful.
Read more in our review of this book.
Learning project management can enhance your chances to achieve the career of your dreams, but it can be also applied to every aspect of your life. Even the president of a book club, a blogger or a Facebook Page administrator can make good use of the tools and techniques that project management can provide them.
With this list of the 10 best project management books in 2020, we aim to help you understand where to start your path, or how to deepen your knowledge. If you can take one last piece of advice, we recommend not to stop at your first book. One book, no matter how detailed (and probably not even the PMBOK) can’t be enough to become an expert project manager.
The matter is vast, complex and includes technical, technological, and psychological aspects that you can’t master after the reading of one book. When you’ve learned the basic knowledge, go deeper, try more advanced books and keep on learning and growing!