Best Engineering Project Management Books

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Engineers who are aspiring to management positions, and engineering managers in need of new tools and strategies to better supervise their projects and teams, may find this reading list particularly insightful. This collection of books offers practical and applicable approaches to the fields of both engineering and management. The following 10 books are listed with brief descriptions.

Best Engineering Project Management Books

1. Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy, Second Edition 2nd Edition – Masaaki Imaj

“Written by Masaaki Imai, pioneer of modern business operational excellence and founder of the Kaizen Institute, Gemba Kaizen, Second Edition is an in-depth revision of this renowned, bestselling work. The book reveals how to implement cost-effective, incremental improvements in your most critical business processes. Global case studies from a wide range of industries demonstrate how gemba kaizen has been successfully used. To thrive in today’s competitive global economy, organizations need to operate more effectively and profitably than ever before. Developing problem solvers, increasing productivity, improving quality, and reducing waste are essential success factors.”

2. Engineering Project Management for the Global High-Technology Industry – Sammy G. Shina

“Engineering Project Management for the Global High-Technology Industry describes how to effectively implement a wide array of project management tools and techniques and covers comprehensive details on the entire product development lifecycle. Technology management–from research to advanced development to adoption in new products–is explained with examples of organizational structure and required timelines. This practical guide discusses key topics such as creating a business plan, performing economic analysis, leveraging internal resources and the supply chain, planning project development, controlling projects, tracking progress, managing risk, and reporting to management. Skills essential to the successful project manager, including communication, leadership, and teamwork, are also addressed. Real-world case studies from top global technology companies illustrate the concepts presented in the book.”

3. Engineering Design, Planning, and Management – Hugh Jack

Engineering Design, Planning and Management covers engineering design methodology with an interdisciplinary approach, concise discussions, and a visual format. The book covers the product design process in the context of both established companies and entrepreneurial start-ups. Readers will discover the usefulness of the design process model through practical examples and applications from across the engineering disciplines. Author Hugh Jack takes the reader through phases ranging from risk assessment and need identification through specification and detailed design, addressing intellectual property issues as well. Recognizing that design is a process commonly performed in teams, Jack also covers project management and team dynamic topics where appropriate.”

4. The Making of an Expert Engineer – James Trevelyan

“This book sets out the principles of engineering practice, knowledge that has come to light through more than a decade of research by the author and his students studying engineers at work. Until now, this knowledge has been almost entirely unwritten, passed on invisibly from one generation of engineers to the next, what engineers refer to as “experience”. This is a book for all engineers. It distills the knowledge of many experts in one volume. The book will help engineers enjoy a more satisfying and rewarding career and provide more valuable results for their employers and clients.”

5. Engineering Management: Meeting the Global Challenges – C.M. Chang

“This book prepares engineers to fulfill their managerial responsibilities, acquire useful business perspectives, and take on the much-needed leadership roles to meet the challenges in the new millennium. Value addition, customer focus, and business perspectives are emphasized throughout. Also underlined are discussions of leadership attributes, steps to acquire these attributes, the areas engineering managers are expected to add value, the web-based tools which can be aggressively applied to develop and sustain competitive advantages, the opportunities offered by market expansion into global regions, and the preparations required for engineering managers to become global leaders.”

6. People Management: Everything You Need to Know about Managing and Leading People at Work – Chad Halvorson

“As a manager, it’s not always inherently easy to understand how to best lead and communicate with your team. You don’t become a great manager overnight—you have to work at it just like anything else you want to excel at. This book will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a better manager and leader of people.”

7. Startup Engineering Management – Piaw Na

“If you’re currently an engineer and have been offered a management job at a startup, this book is for you! If you’re an engineer wondering what your manager is supposed to do for you, this book is for you as well! Drawing from the author’s experience as an engineer and manager, this book explains:

  • When to consider doing management work
  • How to put together a team
  • What to consider when interacting with engineers
  • How to hire top engineers for your startup
  • How to pick engineering leaders
  • How to define processes and a process cookbook
  • When you don’t need a process
  • How to report to your managers
  • How compensation systems and promotion systems work, and when they fail”
ALSO READ:   How to Use Agile Project Management

8. Implementing Six Sigma, Second Edition: Smarter Solutions Using Statistical Methods 2nd Edition – Forrest W. Breyfogle

“Written to aid organizations in laying the foundation for Six Sigma, this comprehensive and engaging guide provides the tools, strategies, and motivation to get all relevant players involved with improvement from upper management on down. At the heart of the book is a group of statistical tools that address FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis), QFD (Quality Functional Deployment), and DOE (Design of Experiment). Rather than offering just a brief overview, Implementing Six Sigma devotes individual chapters to all of the tools, so as to provide an in-depth analysis of each. A large selection of diagrams and clarifying exercises demonstrate how to best utilize the tools to successfully minimize defects throughout the production process. Steeped in real world application, it presents numerous examples, as well as copies of actual implementation guides used by Motorola.”

9. Engineering Documentation Control Handbook, Fourth Edition: Configuration Management and Product Lifecycle Management 4th Edition – Frank B. Watts

“In this new edition of his widely-used Handbook, Frank Watts, widely recognized for his significant contributions to engineering change control processes, provides a thoroughly practical guide to the implementation and improvement of Engineering Documentation Control (EDC), Product Lifecycle Management, and Product Configuration Management (CM). Successful and error-free implementation of EDC/CM is critical to world-class manufacturing. Huge amounts of time are wasted in most product manufacturing environments over EDC/CM issues such as interchangeability, document release and change control – resulting in faults, product release delays and overspends. The book is packed with specific methods that can be applied quickly and accurately to almost any industry and any product to control documentation, request changes to the product, implement changes and develop bills of material.”

10. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All – Jim Collins

“Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous and fast-moving times.”

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project management books for beginners

Project Management Institute (PMI)

Calling the PMBOK a famous book would be a drastic understatement. This is one of the most recommended books for anyone interested in the role and is universally recognized as the ultimate guide to the principles of project management.

The PMBOK is an authoritative and thorough guide that covers all the terminologies, methodologies, knowledge areas, and everything else you’ll need to get started. The book is published by the Project Management Institute and is considered a requirement for passing a PMP exam.

Since the PMBOK targets a certification exam, the language is quite academic. Understanding and learning from it will need you to concentrate and make notes. If you plan to add a professional certification down the road, this guide is a must-have.

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

Peter Taylor

If you are a fan of simple explanations with a lot of anecdotes and graphical illustrations, then this is the best book for you. The author, Peter Taylor, is a renowned project management expert with 30 years of professional experience and he uses insights from his career for efficiency and productivity.

A lot of self-proclaimed lazy professionals are considered highly efficient in their field as they tend to get the maximum output with minimum effort. With this unique book, you too can learn how to do that.

3. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood

If you’ve heard words like “We should treat this as a project…” or “You’d be the ideal person to manage this project”, you know how overwhelming it can be for someone inexperienced. This book targets those accidental managers and trains them with excellent advice to get started in the role of an accidental project manager.

ALSO READ:   Free Project Management Tools and Templates

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager distinguishes itself from other similar books with its jargon-free language and real-world examples. The book analyzes several projects from different industries and lists down the reasons why they failed or succeeded.

4. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams

Terry Schmidt

This book by Terry Schmidt is among the most actionable resources available right now. It is slightly advanced compared to other books on this list, but the writing style makes it easier for beginners in project management to understand as well. This book is a great read for managers who are struggling to plan their projects as it comes with tried and tested frameworks to fix the situation.

5. Industrial Megaprojects

Edward W. Merrow

There are only a few resources that cater to the needs of engineers, construction managers, and other domains where analytical skills are more valued. Large-scale industrial projects in chemical plants, high-rise buildings, and oil rigs need careful planning as failure may have severe consequences.

In Industrial Megaprojects, Edward Merrow channels the insights gained from working in the industry for more than 30 years in a conversational manner. The book is a perfect choice for any engineering major whose training often lacks the necessary tools any project manager needs. While the book largely focuses on large-scale megaprojects, you’ll see that the tips are also applicable to any project irrespective of its size.

6. Project Management: The Managerial Process

Erik Larson and Clifford Gray

Project management has a lot to do with understanding the behavior of people and the author of this book prepares you for real-world scenarios by combining the technical and behavioral approaches. This book contains a lot of case studies with insights on how to react in a given situation. If you haven’t had the chance of managing a cross-functional team, you’ll find this book very helpful in dealing with the challenges of the job.

7. Project Management for Non-Project Managers

Jack Ferraro

Project management for non-project managers is an excellent attempt by Jack Ferraro to introduce the concepts to absolute beginners without confusing them with extensive terminologies. The book targets traditional functional managers who want to get involved in the day-to-day activities of their projects.

Many project managers recommend this book to people thinking about starting a career in this field. You’ll get a small glimpse into the life of a project manager and have a better understanding of the expectations of this job.

8. Project Management: Absolute Beginner’s Guide

Greg Horine

Think of this as an easier-to-read version of the PMBOK. This is a perfect book for people who do not enjoy going through countless dry pages. Greg Horine uses a conversational tone to keep the readers engaged and always stays on the point being discussed. This means that you won’t find any on-the-job advice or references to case studies in this book. You may think it’s a disadvantage, but for an absolute beginner looking to learn the ropes, this is the perfect approach.

Once you have completed this book, you’ll have the basic theoretical knowledge of the project management process and you’ll be ready to enhance it with more detailed books on the topic.

Best project management books

1. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide

Author: Greg Horine

Level: Beginner

This book is one of the most popular beginner books on project management. It covers all the major concepts of project management that every project manager should master – from planning and control to getting started with agile project management. The 4th edition of the book has also been updated with all the newest and most popular web-project management tools to get you ready for the latest PMP Certification Exam. 

2. Be Fast or Be Gone: Racing the Clock with Critical Chain Project Management

Author: Andreas Scherer

Level: Beginner

If you like reading fictional novels, this book on project management is the perfect one for you! The book explains Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) through two characters – Mike Knight and his son, Tim. When Tim gets diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, Mike quits his job to help a pharmaceutical company bring cancer’s only known solution to the market faster using CCPM. The best part about this book is that it makes a complex topic like CCPM more interesting and approachable for a project manager who is just starting.

3. Project Management for Non-Project Managers

Author: Jack Ferraro

Level: Beginner

This book is exactly how the title describes it – a project management book for non-project managers. As a functional manager, you could already be implementing project management principles in your work without even realizing it. This book encourages all functional managers to jump into the project management space by arming them with the most critical project management skills such as work breakdown structures, risk management methods, performance reports, business analysis techniques, and program sequencing techniques.

ALSO READ:   Best Project Management Books of All Time

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4. Project Management Case Studies

Author: Harold Kerzner

Level: Intermediate

This is one of the best project management books containing case studies from Disney, Airbus, Motorola, The Olympics and much more. Since case studies are essential for project managers, this book will give you a unique opportunity to experience project management in action for some of the high-profile companies around the world. This fifth edition of the book also focuses on Agile and Scrum methodologies and supports preparation for the latest PMP Certification Exam.

5. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management 

Author: Scott Berkun

Level: Intermediate

This book is especially useful for project managers in the software industry. It is based on the author’s years of experience as a project manager for Internet Explorer, Windows and MSN. It doesn’t cite specific methods for managing projects, but focuses more on the philosophy and strategy of good project management. Some of the topics in this book include – “How not to annoy people”, “How to make things happen”, “Making good decisions” and “What to do when things go wrong”. It is an interesting book that will serve you well on your current projects and on future ones.

6. Agile Project Management with Scrum

Author: Ken Schwaber

Level: Intermediate

Written by Scrum himself’s co-creator, this book provides an introduction to all the rules and principles of Scrum using easy, straightforward examples.You will learn how to scale projects and solve complex projects using Scrum, set up a Scrum team, setup artifacts and ceremonies, and other key Scrum principles. You will also learn about the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) which describes the best practices in developing software.

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

Author: Bob Sproull and Bruce Nelson

Level: Advanced

This book provides a comprehensive view of how project managers can use Theory of Constraints (TOC) to increase an organization’s overall productivity.It also offers essential insights on how to implement TOC, Lean, and Six Sigma methodologies to produce even greater results. The book is divided into two parts – Part One covers the core concepts of TOC, Lean and Six Sigma methodologies; Part Two provides a more in-depth explanation to each of these core concepts for those who want to explore them in detail.

8. The Lazy Project Manager: How To Be Twice As Productive And Still Leave The Office Early

Author: Peter Taylor

Level: Advanced

This book also sheds light on the importance of using TOC, Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to achieve better results. It focuses on advanced project management techniques and skills to achieve superior on-time delivery along with unprecedented levels of profitability. It also includes the famous Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule which specifies that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes.

9. The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work 

Author: Gil Broza

Level: Advanced

This book gives an introduction to using the Agile mindset in project management. It provides important insights on the best practices and tools for Agile and how you can make them work for your team. You will also learn about the four foundational values of Agile – putting people before product and processes, adaptation, early and frequent value delivery, and customer collaboration.

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

Author: Gerald I. Kendall, PMP and Kathleen M. Austin

Level: Advanced

This book provides an advanced multi-project management approach for completing projects faster and increasing the number of projects executed using the same resources. It also addresses the key issues that senior project managers have with implementing the right projects at the right time. You will learn how to control the flow of active projects, implement a strategic buffer, enable faster execution and recover lost projects.

Conclusion

there is no shortage of effective project management tools and resources that beginners can use to improve their project management skills. One of the best resources for beginners and accidental project managers is a good book that introduces the subject efficiently and equips the reader to handle the challenges of this job.

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