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11 project management books for digital project managers

PostsProject management
Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

November 19, 2021

As a digital project manager, you’re responsible for turning your company’s ideas into reality. But coming up with new web and mobile apps is only half the battle.

If you want to lead successful projects, it’ll take more than simply an idea and some coding skills. You’ll need strong organizational abilities, great communication skills, and knowledge of current trends in technology.

Sound difficult? That’s because it is.

Project management books to look out for

Luckily there are loads of helpful project management books that can help you thrive. Maybe you’ve been managing projects for years, or you’re brand new to all of this. Either way, here are the best project management books to help you on your way to becoming the kind of project manager everyone wants to work with.

1. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management, by Scott Berkun

This book teaches readers the basics, plus 10 essential soft skills crucial for all PMs to master. That includes communication, self-management, and decision-making.

The author also delves into the two mindsets that project managers need to have. Think of the “builder” mindset, which is about building a vision and working together to achieve it. Or, the “magician” mindset is about orchestrating all of the elements needed for success.

2. The of Practice Cloud System Administration

The Practice Cloud System Administration covers all of the skills needed for admins to succeed as cloud sysadmins. The key? Sysadmins need to be able to adapt their mindset. Flexibility is key, from doing things locally on a server or set of servers to working with virtualized cloud systems.

3. The Phoenix Project

The IT department can’t deliver projects. There’s a backlog of work and difficulties with management, culture, and change…

The Phoenix Project is a bestseller and one of the most well-known project management books in IT circles today. It’s easy to see why. It’s an engaging novel about how one fixer-upper PM turns things around by bringing management and IT together as one cohesive unit.

4. Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large Projects with Kanban

As digital projects become larger and larger, making them simpler and easier to manage becomes more important. This kanban management system provides ways to create visual progress charts. This is a highly effective way of ensuring all team members understand how much work is being done and how much remains. A photo or diagram illustrates each point. Plus, anecdotes take you right into the heart of the project as you discover why and how one organization transformed its workforce in record time.

5. Alpha Project Managers, by Andy Crowe

This is one of the best project management books available. Andy Crowe, a project management expert, outlines the five traits that all successful project managers share:

Initiating — Ability to understand what needs to be done and what problems they need to solve
Executing — Training and motivating their team members
– Monitoring & Controlling — Planning ahead in order to prevent future issues
Closing — Identifying when they’re finished with a task or project
– Leading People — Communicating well with others and finding ways to motivate their teammates.

His research debunks common myths about what it takes to succeed as a PM. It also demonstrates that these traits have been consistent in successful PMs since the profession began in the 1940s. A must for any PM who wants to understand what it takes to become a world-class project manager. That includes when they should put their project on hold when things get too complicated.

6. The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier

Camille Fournier has been a software engineer and manager for nearly two decades, working on highly scalable web properties. Her first book, The Manager’s Path, was published in 2018.

The book focuses on the skills and knowledge that managers need to be successful in their careers. Clue here: They’re the same, no matter what type of company they work for or what industry. By showing how each step builds onto next ones, you’ll understand how these principles fit together to manage any project in any context.

7. Project Management for Non-Project Managers

Some project managers never take the PMP. But even if you know nothing about project management, you’ll be able to understand the terms in this novel. By following the step-by-step lessons, you’ll learn how to deal with change requests, communicate with your team members and stakeholders, and successfully end the project.

8. Product Management’s Sacred Seven

Product Management’s Sacred Seven: The Skills Required to Crush Product Manager Interviews and be a World-Class PM is all about demonstrating your digital PM skills in a high-pressure situation.

The book will guide you through seven case study interviews. But then, it also gives hints on how to stay calm and answer tricky questions. It covers all the topics you need to impress interviewers, including product discovery sessions, market research techniques, and competitive analysis. It then goes on to help you practice these skills with over 200 challenging interview questions.

The book ends by providing insights into the Product Manager position, allowing you to think about your career path. If you’re a digital project manager (or beginning a career as one), it’s a must.

9. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Author Jeff Sutherland includes tools, techniques, and strategies to run effective meetings, base your decisions on objective data, manage stakeholders’ expectations, and improve team morale. Highlights include self-organizing teams, how to build them, the importance of defining the “What” vs. the “How,” Burndown Charts, and much more.

This book is invaluable for any digital project manager (or aspiring one) who wants to up their Scrum game. The advice here can also be applied to Agile in general, regardless of your team size or industry.

10. Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Former Google and Apple manager Kim Scott has a no-nonsense approach to management. This offers readers a radical new model for motivating and leading teams. Scott argues that traditional managerial strategy focusing on “command and control” has been destructive to productive working environments. She outlines how managers can be both influential and respected by their employees without resorting to it.

Throughout the book, she gives examples of how some of the best-performing teams have smashed communication barriers with something she calls ‘Radical Candor’ — a combination of care and honesty. She also offers four key questions for managers to ask themselves to determine whether they are engaging in Radical Candor. Scott also shares how technology is making it easier than ever to use.

Radical Candor is a great read for anyone who manages people, regardless of industry — especially those working in creative roles.

11. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

Written by one of the fathers of computing, Frederick P. Brooks Jr, this book looks into why software projects fail so often, offering advice on how project managers can avoid mistakes made by others throughout their careers. He discusses the importance of planning before starting any project, looking at both quantitative measurements and qualitative evaluations to come up with contingency plans in case problems arise later.

This classic book looks at setting up a project management process, going through the necessary steps for success and failure, along with common mistakes. It also discusses the idea of failing gracefully when things do go wrong so you can still be prepared for future eventualities.

Applying what you learn from project management books

As digital projects continue to take up an increasing amount of resources, it’s become clear that integrating processes into these types of ventures will be necessary if they’re to succeed. While many think that digital project management only applies to large companies like Google or Apple, the truth is that every business can benefit from using some form of PM — no matter how small they are.

Managing digital projects is never easy, but with expert advice and the right tools, you’ll be on your way to success in no time.

Backlog, our own project management tool, lets you easily track your activities, create schedules for your team members, and never lose sight of the big picture, no matter how many projects you’re juggling. Plus, with its handy analytics feature, you can keep track of how your team is performing and spot any issues before they snowball into something much bigger. But enough with reading about it — try it out for free!


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