Aug 2, 2023

12 Best Project Manager Books Worth Reading

The best project manager books are excellent resources for staying on top of your profession. See this list of must-read books for managers of all experience levels.

Books are a sure way to stay informed on the latest industry developments and continue to progress in your personal development. Plus, the process of reading itself helps to expand the vocabulary, improve analytical skills, and lower stress.
To be blunt, reading is an absolute must for anyone who wants to achieve major goals and remain relevant. 
According to industry publication, Sales and Marketing Executive International, leaders who read at least 7 books per year make at least 2.3 times more than those who don’t?
Qualified project managers might be in-demand but that’s only if they stay up to date. 

12 Books to Level Up Your Project Manager Skills

Project manager books are an invaluable resource for learning about new trends, tips, and techniques. Want to know the secrets of the great project manager of all time? There’s a pretty good chance that someone’s written about it.
Books aren’t just for students, academics, or researchers. There are publications appropriate for beginners, intermediates, and experts.
We’ve compiled a list of 12 of the best project manager books.
You’re sure to find one that can catapult you to the next career level, no matter where you are now.
Best Project Management Books for Beginners Managers

1. Project Management JumpStart 

Project Management JumpStart by Kim Heldman introduces readers to the world of project management. It describes project management skills, tasks, activities, and best practices while giving examples, key terms, and review points for enhanced learning.
Don’t know what the golden triangle of project management is? This book is for you. It might be described as a jumpstart, but it’s a comprehensive, detailed, and end-to-end project management guide. 
Project Management JumpStart adheres to the Project Management Institute’s publications standards and can serve as an authoritative study text for beginners or a reference book for more seasoned managers.
It’s a valuable resource that ranks as one of the all-time best project manager books.
Key Learning Points:
  • Details each aspect of project management
  • Links core concepts to work examples
  • Hones in on critical review topics
  • Sample project management forms and checklists

2. Project Management: Absolute Beginner’s Guide 

Project Management: Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Greg Horne runs the gamut of basic project management tasks. 
This book is geared toward readers with zero or very little experience. It gives a project management overview and then describes how to plan, control, execute, and accelerate projects.
It’s a comprehensive guide packed with advice, best practices, and practical steps. But author Greg Horne does an excellent job of presenting and explaining a complex field in a way that’s simple and approachable.
Want to know what the five pillars of project management are? This book will fill you in. It’s an essential general and software project management book for anyone just getting started.
Key Learning Points:
  • Key project manager skills
  • Essential elements for successful projects
  • Work breakdown structures

3. Project Management for Non-Project Managers 

Project Management for Non-Project Managers by Jack Ferraro introduces functional managers to the project management field.
It begins by explaining project management and some of the terms, jargon, methods, processes, activities, and responsibilities. It talks about how functional managers should relate to PM teams, the critical skills for doing so, and common challenges.
This one is a must-read book for general function managers working closely with project teams. It helps both teams understand each other and get on the same page.
Key Learning Points:
  • Business analysis
  • Proactive project risk management
  • Work breakdown structures
  • Project sequencing

4. The Lazy Project Manager: How to Be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early

The Lazy Project Manager: How to Be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early by Peter Taylor teaches project managers how to get more done without expending more time and energy.
It’s the best project manager book for project managers living by the “work smarter, not harder” motto. And it’s essential for product managers who are unfocused, waste time, have too much on their plate, or can’t accomplish their work within normal hours.
The book’s title and tone might be on the light-hearted side. But amidst the entertainment, it showcases a radical approach to project management that can drastically improve a manager’s quality of work and life.
The core strategy is to concentrate efforts during a project’s start and close while utilizing specific techniques and tactics to keep everything under control.
This one is on the beginner’s list. But it includes advice suitable for experienced professionals, such as how to stay lazy while managing multiple projects.
Key Learning Points:
  • How to be highly productive and still leave the office on time or even early
  • Avoiding scope creep
  • Staying lazy and ahead of the game
  • Effective delegation
  • Crisis aversion, planning, and management
Best Project Management Books for Intermediate Managers

5. Project Management Case Studies

Project Management Case Studies by Harold Kerzner is an authoritative tome featuring over 100 project management case studies and situational examples. It covers tasks, techniques, methodologies, and practices, showing the best and worst of project management across industries.
The book begins with case studies on methodologies, implementations, cultures, and organizational structures. Then it moves into a range of project manager tasks and responsibilities. The book closes with industry-specific case studies.
Some standouts are its case studies on agile, scrum, scope changes, morality, innovation, and wages. Plus, it showcases projects at telecom companies, Disney, construction companies, airports and aircraft manufacturers, and others.
It’s one of the all-time best project manager books as well as one of the best books on agile project management. It deserves a place in every PM’s library.
Key Learning Points:
  • Comprehensive case studies
  • Managing large projects

6. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun lays out field-tested and proven project management philosophies and strategies. He guides readers through defining, leading, and managing critical projects from start to finish.
This book is a PM classic. Author Scott Berkun is a Microsoft veteran who managed some of its biggest projects and worked in its best practices group. He distilled his knowledge into personal-style essays that are approachable enough for project management students to use but advanced enough to bring value to experienced leaders.
It’s an engaging read where practical advice is interspersed with war stories and diagrams. Making Things Happen is an excellent software project management book with principles applicable to general process management.
Key Learning Points:
  • Making things happen
  • Decision-making
  • Specifications and requirements

7. Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure 

Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure by Todd C. Williams concentrates on salvaging difficult, troubled, and failing projects.
Anyone in the project management field for long enough will experience a disaster project. This book shows exactly how to handle those. It’s a practical, step-by-step guide with a start-to-finish process and plenty of real-world case studies and situation examples.
Author Todd C. Williams is an executive consultant and senior project audit and recovery specialist. He’s spent decades turning projects around for companies in multiple industries and condensed his expertise into this process management book.
Statistics say that around 65 to 70% of projects fail to meet goals or deliver in some way. This book shows exactly what to do in those instances. It’s executable, practical, and can be considered one of the all-time best project manager books.
Key Learning Points:
  • Problem diagnostics
  • Project auditing
  • Solution negotiation and execution

8. What the Heck is EOS?

What the Heck is EOS? by Tom Bouwer and Gino Wickman answers some of the pressing questions around the Entrepreneurial Operating System – a business management approach for entrepreneurs and their leadership team.
EOS is a people management system that aims to help companies fully harness and organize their human energy. It structures the way an organization’s members meet, communicate, follow processes, problem solve, plan, prioritize, measure, define roles, manage, and lead. 
What the Heck is EOS? should be considered one of the must-read books for managers, whether or not their company uses this management style. Its principles show how to achieve company-wide coherence, focus, and order while growing toward a shared vision and goals. These universally applicable guidelines make it one of the best project manager books.
Key Learning Points:
  • Organizational vision, traction, and accountability
  • Prioritizing what’s important
  • Effective meetings
  • Measuring, scoring, and analyzing
Best Project Management Books for Advanced Managers

9. Epiphanized: A Novel on Unifying Theory of Constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma

Epiphanized: A Novel on Unifying Theory of Constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma by Bruce Jay Nelson and Bob Sproull presents the authors’ unique improvement methodology merging TOC, Lean, and Six Sigma and gives advice on how to implement it.
This unified methodology can achieve superior on-time delivery, unprecedented profitability levels, and better improvement results.
It’s written as a novel illustrating how project managers can apply these concepts and win executive support.
This process management book is best for project managers who are already familiar with the Theory of Constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma.
Key Learning Points:
  • Unifying and enhancing improvement practices

10. Brilliant Project Management

Brilliant Project Management by Rob Cole and Stephen Barker is a practical textbook on effective and successful project management.
This is an advanced guide to project management basics. It touches on all core project management pillars, like risk and resource management, and offers best practice techniques, tips, and methods for handling them.
The authors draw from 30 years of experience in managing high-profile and specialized projects along with salvaging troubled ones. Brilliant Project Management offers their know-how in a practical, step-by-step guide and it ranks among the best project manager books for anyone struggling to keep things under control.
Key Learning Points:
  • Ensuring quality delivery
  • Rescuing failing projects
  • Applicable tips, tricks, and techniques

11. Advanced Multi-Project Management: Achieving Outstanding Speed and Results with Predictability

Advanced Multi-Project Management: Achieving Outstanding Speed and Results with Predictability by Gerald I. Kendall and Kathleen M. Austin takes on the challenges of managing more than one project at a time. It addresses common issues and describes how to drive organizational speed and predictability. 
The book sets out what it takes to complete multiple projects on time, within scope, and within budget. If its approach is executed well, project managers should be able to execute 70% more projects with the same resources. It’s a proven method that’s been used at major companies like Boeing and Chrysler.
Multi-project management is generally considered to be the hardest thing a project manager has to do. But this process management book makes it feasible and well within reach.
Key Learning Points:
  • Analysis of common multi-project problems
  • Multi-project solution overview
  • Variability insulation
  • ERP-level project resource planning

12. Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done by David Allen isn’t expressly for project managers, but this personal productivity and organization classic is a must-read book for managers with a lot on their minds.
The GTD productivity system leverages psychological phenomena – instead of fighting against them. It uses an “external brain” method and a unique agenda optimization technique.
The GTD workflow remembers, tracks, and enables control while leaving people free to think and focus on priority work.
Getting Things Done is one of the best project manager books because it contains cognitive science, general productivity principles, and practical steps. The system is adaptable and powerful, with fundamental techniques that can be used to lower stress and get more done in personal and working lives.
Key Learning Points:
  • Productivity principles
  • Productivity cognitive science
  • Mental, personal, and workplace organization practices

Boost Your Project Manager Skills

The best project manager books will educate, equip, and encourage you towards making big professional strides.
If you’re ready for a more accelerated approach, look into project management courses.
Here are three to consider:
Maven offers reimbursable professional learning and development courses for career-savvy modern project managers. Our courses are expert-led and come with direct instructor access. Enroll in one today and learn what you need to accelerate your career.
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