Essential Project Management Skills


Book Review

Book Title: Essential Project Management Skills
Author: Kerry R. Wills
Publisher: An Auerbach Book from CRC Press
List Price: $69.95
Format: Hardcover, 220 pages
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4398-2716-1
Reviewer: Phuong Tran
Review Date: July 2022



Since 1995, he has gained a wealth of knowledge as it pertains to project management, especially within the information technology field. Recognizing that as the IT landscape was rapidly evolving; there is a greater need for IT project managers to establish additional skillsets to remain successful. Wills begins with a metaphor comparing an orchestra to the evolution of the project management landscape, “where in the “good old days” of IT projects, the project manager was like the conductor of an orchestra.” (Wills, p.1, 2010) As the music industry is beginning to change, the way the orchestra is manage will need to change also. This can be applied to the evolution of project landscape.

The book will deep dive into illustrating and equipping readers with the essential knowledge, skills and techniques necessary to empower them to “evolve from a project manager to a project leader, whose success is directly dependent on his or her ability to lead the project team members to meet their goals.” (Wills, p. 154-155, 2010)

Overview of Book’s Structure

Essential Project Management Skills is divided into a preface, author, and four chapters: Background, “Changing Project Landscape”, “The New Project Management Skills”, and “Summary.” Finally concluding the book listing references and an index.

The book’s outline of each chapter organized in a way that is easily digestible. In the preface, Willis provides his motivation and insight on the importance for project managers to inquire the management skills featured in this book. In Chapter 1, he laid out the structure of the book and the expectation of each concept.

In Chapter 2, he introduces the trends and explore the challenges created in the current business climate due to emerging IT trends and their implications. Each trend is explored in-depth followed with a relevant case study provided by either Willis or a contributing author.

In Chapter 3, the readers are introducing to new project management skills for project managers in the IT industry. Each skill has several sub-topics that concludes with a case study to bring it back in full circle. Wills provides a relevant case study to help reiterate the positive outcomes that all project managers should strive for with each project they lead.

There are four skills presented in this chapter. Skill number One is “Additional Rigor” and has six sub-topics: Diligent Project Planning, use a Standard Methodology, Use Resources Intelligently, Diligent Project Management, Use Metrics Appropriately, and Improve Competencies. Due to how the business landscape has been changing, Wills explained that project managers need to be more “rigorous in all aspects of managing a project” (Wills, p.58, 2010) meaning there is a need to pay attention to the planning and executing of several domains: Management, Process and People.

Skill number Two “Consultative Approach” and has four sub-topics: Relationship Focus, Influencing, Self-Management, and Political Savvy. Wills explained that more than ever, project managers are not merely managing projects and delegating tasks, but they must develop soft skills “that are needed to manage the people aspects of the project” (Wills, p.102, 2010). He illustrates the challenges in how project managers are struggling to manage people. These challenges are resources do not report to the project manager, resources are fractionalized and have other priorities, project resources may work for different companies, resources are specialized, and resources are mobile and fickle.

Skill number Three “Managing Information” has three sub-topics: Proper Communications Planning, Gathering Information: Visibility, and Presenting and Sharing Information. Wills explained that even if project managers can have a consultative approach, who they are about to manage information in an effective and transparent way is as important. The focal point is about “getting the right information to the right people at the time”. (Wills, p.134, 2010) He presents the type of information needed in a standard project: communication of status, escalation of issues, risks, and/or change that can have an impact on the project commitments, interactions with vendors and/or stakeholders, and project goals and context.


To read entire Book Review, click here

How to cite this review: Tran, P.  (2022).  Essential Project Management Skills, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/pmwj122-Oct2022-Tran-essential-project-management-skills-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Phuong ‘Rose’ Tran

Dallas, Texas, USA


Phuong Tran is new to the project management world. She currently is employed at a non-profit behavioral health provider agency in Dallas County. She runs her own program funded by Texas Health and Human Services to assist the agency’s consumers to improve their quality of life. Phuong stumbled upon project management when her program manager needed assistance leading high level projects within our umbrella program. Since then, she has participated and led numerous projects within the agency.

In her personal life, Phuong loves to knit and cross-stitch as her hobbies. She enjoys spending time with her pup, Miso, and exploring the outdoors when she can. Her personal goal is life is to attend every racetrack in the Formula 1 circuit.  Email address: bpttran@proton.me

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the PM World Journal and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide books to the PM World Journal; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review who agree to provide a review within 45 days; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library. 

If you have read a good recently-published book related to managing programs, projects or teams of professionals, consider authoring a book review for publication in the PM World Journal.  For our standard format or for more information, contact Editor@pmworldjournal.com or visit https://pmworldlibrary.net/book-review-program/

If you are an author or publisher of a project management-related book, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact Editor@pmworldjournal.com.