Let It Simmer



Book Title:  LET IT SIMMER: Making Project, Portfolio and Program Management Practices Stick in a Skeptical Organization
Author:  Douglas M. Brown, Ph.D., PgMP®
Publisher:  Caltrop Press
List Price:   $14.95
Format:  Paperback
Publication Date:  2015
ISBN: 978-1522797531
Reviewer: Margaret Shoults, PMP
Review Date: September/2021



Rather than simply defining governance concepts, Dr. Brown leveraged his personal experience in different types of organizations to define an approach to standing up a governance process. The Simmer System SM focuses on a necessary shift of the organizational culture and establishment of working practices. Adoption of best practices is considered to be a future effort once a foundation is in place.

An underlying premise is the need to integrate Project, Program and Portfolio Management (PPFM). Key components of a defined PPFM governance process include:

  • A Governance Board, which provides oversight of all organizational investments, and
  • The PPFM Office (PPFMO), which gathers data regarding each investment, facilitates the activities of the Governance Board, and assists projects as needed.

Overview of Book’s Structure

LET IT SIMMER presents a step-by-step approach to building a PPFM governance process. The book begins with a summary of the differences between The Simmer System SM and other approaches and an overview of the concepts that will be covered.

Chapter 1 explains the underlying set of five integrated components of the governance framework:

  1. Four guiding principles to help maintain focus and avoid confusion: The Pasta Principle, Zero-Sum, Integrity, and Purposeful Humility;
  2. Seven sets of data necessary for PPFM to operate effectively;
  3. Eight collaborative agreements to enable build of a robust process;
  4. Build high-level support that is necessary for success; and
  5. Operate a governance board that will provide oversight.

Each chapter concludes with a practical exercise that enables the reader to consider and document how to apply the concepts just presented to the challenge at hand of establishing PPFM governance. The first exercise challenges the reader to envision the future PPFMO in their organization. Fast forwarding through the book, the last exercise focuses on measuring progress in the implementation of PPFM governance.


The comprehensive approach is divided into manageable components to define a governance process. A key component of the approach is gathering and analyzing existing information, such as organization charts, strategic plans, budgets, and projects/activities. Numerous templates are included that illustrate how the information may be consolidated to facilitate building the governance process.


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How to cite this book review: Shoults, M. (2021). Let It Simmer: Making Project, Portfolio and Program Management Practices Stick in a Skeptical Organization, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue X, October.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/pmwj110-Oct2021-Shoults-Let-It-Simmer-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Margaret Shoults

Annapolis, MD, USA


Margaret Shoults, PMP® has more than thirty-years of project and program management experience. She has worked with a variety of commercial, non-profit, and government organizations, ranging from a startup to a Fortune 5 company. As a consultant, she currently provides program management guidance to various clients and shares her project management knowledge and experience through delivery of undergraduate and graduate project management courses. She can be contacted at shoultsb@msn.com

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the PM World Journal and the PMI Silver Spring Chapter. Authors and publishers provide the books to the PMI Silver Spring Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  PMI Silver Spring Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published.  Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books. 

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