project management books

10 Best Project Management Books for Project Managers

Did you know you could hit a whopping 92% success rate in achieving your project goals simply by consistently using project management techniques? 

But here’s the thing: project management isn’t a walk in the park. In 2015, companies managed to finish only 29% of projects on time and within the budget. That’s because you need skills, talent, passion, and technical know-how to flawlessly manage a project. 

Nothing beats real project management experience, but building a solid knowledge base should be your starting point to becoming a successful project manager. 

You’re probably wondering, “How do I do that?” Forget about surfing through scattered online resources. Instead, zero in on dedicated project management books—they offer a comprehensive and organized approach to guide you effectively. 

Let’s dive right in and check out the top 10 project management books that’ll boost your skills as a solid project manager. Stick around till the end, and we’ll share the best method to apply these new project management techniques you’ve learned!

10 Best Project Management Books to Help Project Managers Grow

1. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Greg Horine

Project Management Absolute Beginner's Guide
via Amazon

Released in 2005, Horine’s book is a gem for those in project management. Why? It simplifies mastering project management into easy, actionable steps—ideal for starting strong right from day one.

Horine doesn’t just scratch the surface–he dives deep into project management. From sketching out a project plan to acing the work breakdown structure (WBS), he covers it all.  

Plus, you’ll discover tips for nailing the budget, mapping timelines, and diving into the Agile framework. 

Though it’s been around for some time, the book’s latest edition is loaded with up-to-date strategies, including the newest web management tools and insider tips to excel in the PMP Certification Exam.

“A project is the work performed by an organization one time to produce a unique outcome. By one time, we mean the work has a definite beginning and a definite end, and by unique, we mean the work result is different in one or more ways from anything the organization has produced before.”Gregory M. Horine

Author(s):

  • Gregory M. Horine

No. of pages:

  • 464 pages

Year published:

  • 2005

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 13 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Deep-dive into project management
  • Detailed info on Agile framework

Ratings: 

  • 4.5/5 (Amazon) – “ I recommend it. And, I’m giving it the full five stars. It is a required textbook in a class I’m instructing. Some students are overwhelmed by it and others say they love that it has all the details that they can access later when they are more experienced.”
  • 3.6/5 (Goodreads)
  • Beginner

2. Project Management JumpStart by Kim Heldman

Project Management JumpStart
via Amazon

Imagine this. You’re given a project that you have no idea how to manage. Inevitably, you run into a couple of hard challenges.

The clock is ticking, and you realize you need a crash course to learn how to manage challenges in this new project. If you’ve faced this before, then Heldman’s Project Management JumpStart will be your best ally. 

This book is written in a friendly, easy-to-understand style. It helps you swiftly grasp the fundamental principles of project management: planning, implementation, and management, following the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide. 

Heldman casts a wide net in defining a project, making it relevant for business professionals and people outside the business world. The review questions at the end of each chapter help reinforce what you’ve learned in it. 

The book follows a logical and easy-to-follow path, and Heldman’s no-nonsense style adds to its clarity. Jargon is a rarity, and she spices things up with meaningful real-world examples and anecdotes, making the ideas more relatable and the reading much smoother.

It’s worth noting that this work isn’t exclusively focused on digital aspects. However, the principles it lays out are easily adaptable to digital projects. One slight drawback is the lack of comprehensive guidelines for those gearing up for the PMP certification. 

“The end of the project is the time to reflect on the processes used to complete the activities, to determine whether the customer is satisfied with the product the project set out to produce, and to document the lessons learned (among other things) throughout the course of the project.”Kim Heldman

Author(s):

  • Kim Heldman

No. of pages:

  • 368 pages

Year published:

  • 2003

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 10 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Quick and easy crash course on project management
  • Easy-to-understand no-nonsense and jargon-free style

Ratings:

  • 4.3/5 (Amazon) – “Recommend for a beginner Project manager”
  • 3.6/5 (Goodreads)
  • Beginner

3. The Lazy Project Manager: How To Be Twice As Productive And Still Leave The Office Early by Peter Taylor

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

Looking for something small and concise to take your project management skills to the next level? Look no further than The Lazy Project Manager

In this book, Taylor talks about his concept of “productive laziness.” It’s all about efficiently managing projects without getting overwhelmed or burned out.

This piece dives into the 80-20 rule (the Pareto principle), highlighting how balancing work and relaxation maximizes productivity. Short yet impactful, it covers key points crucial for project managers, throwing in practical tips for those new to the PM game.

However, it’s worth noting that this book leans toward readers with a basic understanding of the concept of project management. It includes snippets on the significance of using TOC, Lean, and Six Sigma methodologies, delving into both advanced and essential concepts.

“Being a lazy project manager is all about being focused in your project management efforts and learning to exercise your effort where it really matters, where they make the most impact.”Peter Taylor

Author(s):

  • Peter Taylor

No. of pages:

  • 152

Year published:

  • 2010

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 4 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Understand how to be productively lazy
  • Gain a better work-life balance using the Pareto principle

Ratings: 

  • 4.2/5 (Amazon) – “If you are in any way into project management and banging your head on being unproductive, Peter gives great tips for “minimum inputs for maximum impact.” If you are extra lazy, just buy this book for the last chapter list of tips. It’s that much worth.”
  • 3.5/5 (Goodreads)
  • Advanced

4. Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber

Agile Project Management with Scrum
via Amazon

When the co-creator of Scrum explains it, you better listen up. 

In this work, Schwaber takes you on a beginner’s journey into the world of Scrum. 

One standout feature, as many have noted, is that only the first chapter delves into the detailed theoretical aspects of Scrum and its role in Agile Project Management. After the first chapter, the book quickly switches gears, jumping into real-world case studies. 

Schwaber recognizes that practical examples are way better at illustrating the methodology’s usefulness in project management. As you flip through its pages, you’ll get a down-to-earth view of the software project landscape and pick up on some common pitfalls. 

In plain language, the book guides you through scaling and managing projects, managing complexity with Scrum, building a top-notch Scrum team, setting up ceremonies and artifacts, and other essential Scrum tools. It’s got a digital framework vibe, touching on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and encapsulating the best practices in software development.

You should note, however, that many readers suggest acquainting yourself with the primary principles of Agile and Scrum and using this book as a case study handbook. 

“Common sense is a combination of experience, training, humility, wit, and intelligence. People employing Scrum apply common sense every time they find the work is veering off the path leading to the desired results. Yet most of us are so used to using prescriptive processes – those that say “do this, then do that, and then do this” – that we have learned to disregard our common sense and instead await instructions.”Ken Schawber

Author(s):

  • Ken Schawber

No. of pages:

  • 192 pages

Year published:

  • 2004

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 5 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Detailed explanation of Scrum’s theoretical aspects
  • Loaded with practical real-world examples

Ratings: 

  • 4.4/5 (Amazon) – “The author presents around 25 different scenarios/challenges that he faced and how he resolved those. The book is still relevant even after two decades of its publication. Scrum Masters would benefit from the various scenarios presented. They would get guidance on how to proceed if they face similar situations. The learning section at the end of each scenario instills the concepts.”
  • 3.7/5 (Goodreads)
  • Intermediate

5. The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work by Gil Broza

The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work
via Amazon

Imagine having all the theory on Agile processes for your project management but hitting a roadblock when it’s time to put it into action. That’s where The Agile Mindset comes in—it’s tailored for that exact scenario. It zeroes in on the challenges faced by those aiming to “do agile” rather than just knowing the ropes.

The book delves into the struggles of getting too caught up in process mechanics when you’re well-versed in agile values. Broza breaks away from treating the agile mindset as the ultimate solution for every project management woe. Instead, he defines it as a mindset promoting consistency and alignment of values, beliefs, and principles.

The author strongly emphasizes the need to shape the agile framework according to your needs, your organization’s stance, and the overall context of your project management. While it provides a basic theoretical foundation for agile, it assumes readers already have a grip on the model. 

So, if you’re new to the game, it suggests swapping it out for more introductory project management books.

“Getting great at Agile, like becoming great at long-distance running or a new career or parenting, involves a deep shift that a sequence of small steps cannot achieve adequately. You need to make a proper commitment: “Do it like you mean it.”Gil Broza

Author(s):

  • Gil Broza

No. of pages:

  • 208 pages

Year published:

  • 2015

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 5 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Deep-dive on Agile framework
  • Explains how to implement Agile for your specific needs

Ratings:

  • 4.4/5 (Amazon) – “As Jim Highsmith says at the beginning, “Many organizations fail to reap the benefits of Agile because they adopted the practices but not the mindset”. Finally, here is a guide and an exploration on the other side of the Agile coin (being Agile – not just DOING Agile!) – the Agile mindset.”
  • 5/5 (Google Play Books)
  • Advanced

6. Project Management for Non-Project Managers by Jack Ferraro

Project Management for Non-Project Managers
via Amazon

Ferraro’s hands-on guide lives up to its name, packed with engaging stories and lessons. It sheds light on project management methodology and processes, making it accessible even for unofficial project managers. 

By unraveling project management jargon, Ferraro transforms the art of project management into something seemingly approachable.

The author highlights that many managers are already using project management processes in their daily tasks and simply need a refresher on those principles.

Here, you’ll discover a step-by-step guide leading you into project management. It equips you with vital skills such as business analysis techniques, work breakdown structures, program sequencing methods, and risk management strategies.

Loaded with practical explanations and relatable examples, the book hits the mark. However, if you’re in the advanced stage and not looking to revisit the basics, look for something that delves into the key specifics of project management.

“Project teams and their members move rapidly from one project to the next and are often under tremendous pressure to produce deliverables and results. Arriving quickly, then disappearing as they move on to the next urgent organizational need, project teams are becoming business and technology agnostics. Yet specific business knowledge is essential for project success … This business knowledge becomes the foundation for project requirements, a key component to your project scope.” – Jack Ferraro

Author(s):

  • Jack Ferraro

No. of pages:

  • 242 pages

Year published:

  • 2012

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 7 hours

Key takeaways:

  • A much-welcomed lack of project management jargon
  • Full of practical examples and real-world applications

Ratings:

  • 4.2/5 (Amazon) – “Having never formally studied project management and yet asked to lead business projects as part of previous roles I can look back and wish I’d read this earlier. Good practical information and relatable examples without getting too stuck in the jargon. Approaches are quite transferable to other parts of your work/life. Worth it.”
  • 3.54/5 (Goodreads)
  • Beginner

7. Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done by Brett Harned

Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done
via Amazon

This pick on our list approaches project management from a more holistic and human-centered viewpoint. The author believes project management is more than rules and tools; it’s about honing interpersonal skills and intuition. These traits help you find solutions that satisfy everyone involved and create win-win situations.

If you want a project management book focusing on methodologies, plenty of others on this list cover that. What sets this book apart is its emphasis on human relationships, expectations, and conflict resolution.

It’s a reminder that sometimes you might get stuck in repetitive routines, just becoming cogs in the project cycle. The author emphasizes that both you and your team members are human. Managing relationships is just as crucial as understanding the technical aspects of project management.

The theories in this book are somewhat basic. It works more as a companion for soft skills in project management rather than being a standalone resource solely dedicated to project management—it’s essential but also somewhat optional.

“Whether you accept it or not, you are a project manager. Sure, you may identify as a designer, content strategist, developer (or any of the many roles and titles there are in our industry), but as a human being, you are a project manager.” – Brett Harned

Author(s):

  • Brett Harned

No. of pages:

  • 224 pages

Year published:

  • 2017

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 6 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Good explanation of basic project management theories
  • Major focus on interpersonal relationship

Ratings: 

  • 4.6/5 (Amazon) – “This is the first book we hand all new project managers at PromptWorks to get them up-to-speed in short order. I was delighted to discover it was a good encapsulation of the practices and experience we’ve developed over the last 10 years, but in a very terse, digestible form. As a manager of PMs, I love the TL;DR at the end of every chapter! It helps me confirm the key points and quickly direct my PMs to specific parts.”
  • 3.9/5 (Goodreads)
  • Beginner

8. Project Management For You by Cesar Abeid

Project Management For You
via Amazon

Struggling with project management stress? It can definitely be tough. But jump into Abeid’s perspective on PM, and you’ll never doubt your management decisions again.

Abeid transforms project management into a walk-in-the-park, ditching corporate jargon for compelling and uplifting stories. Through these tales, the author guides you step by step up the project management ladder, leaving you empowered. 

As countless readers attest, by the final page, you’ll be ignited with a newfound passion to tackle any project that had you stumped. The obstacles that seemed insurmountable a moment ago? Suddenly, they’ll appear smaller and easy to overcome. 

The author admits this book doesn’t delve deep into complex theories; it offers a simplified version. But simplicity can be a plus, especially for beginners. The straightforward values and lessons presented here help dispel doubts and boost confidence.

If you want to overcome reluctance or feel stuck with your project management duties, this book is tailor-made. However, turn to other works for a more advanced knowledge level.

“As the wearer of many hats in a family business, … I was unable to relate to much of the material available about project management. Many of the project management books are aimed at corporations, so the language was not relevant to me. However, as I studied the topic of project management, certain aspects of the discipline jumped out at me as being especially useful and simple. … you too can learn the underlying principles of project management that allow the business world of today to create new projects, deliver on their promises, and get things done.” Cesar Abeid

Author(s):

  • Cesar Abeid

No. of pages:

  • 190 pages

Year published:

  • 2015

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 5 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Inspired readers to start working productively immediately 
  • Full of uplifting and inspiring stories and case studies

Ratings: 

  • 4.5/5 (Amazon) – “I like how Cesar simplifies the project management processes making them easier to comprehend. If you are new to Project Management, this book will help you to get started and put you on the right track.”
  • 4/5 (Goodreads)
  • Beginner 

9. Alpha Project Managers by Andy Crowe

Alpha Project Managers
via Amazon

Think of this book more like a detailed article than a massive tome because it mostly condenses a study. 

Using a sample of 860 project managers, including 18 labeled alphas (the top 2% scorers), the author explores what sets these alphas apart from the betas in terms of habits, practices, project management skills, and techniques.

It’s a quick yet insightful read, offering valuable tips while dispelling some common misconceptions in the project management scene. The book involves in-depth interviews and discussions that offer crucial insights, showcasing diverse perspectives on the traits of the world’s most successful project managers.

“Make it a practice to separate the person from the problem.”Andy Crowe

Author(s):

  • Andy Crowe

No. of pages:

  • 208 pages

Year published:

  • 2016

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 5 to 6 hours

Key takeaways:

  • A very quick read about the top-performing PM habits
  • Provides a comparative look into what differentiates the top 2% from the rest

Ratings:

  • 4.3/5 (Amazon) – “This is, to my mind, a great book, it talks about ‘what the top 2% know that everyone else does not’ and it certainly identifies communication as a key area that top project managers excel at. I particularly support the section on communication.”
  • 3.9/5 (Goodreads)
  • Intermediate

10. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams by Terry Schmidt

Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams
via Amazon

Change is constant, and it’s only natural that project management strategies adapt. Schmidt focuses on these modern strategies to help project managers navigate this evolving landscape. 

The book’s mantra centers on project execution, providing practical advice to bridge the gap between theory and real-life project scenarios.

This project management book tackles challenges that even seasoned project managers might find tricky. It paints the big picture, guiding you to improve project portfolio management, and encourages stepping back from micromanaging. Instead, it focuses on understanding the essential “why” questions tied to the project.

“Many an executive has skimped on investing in research or training because it was perceived that these would not produce meaningful benefits in the upcoming quarters. Those myopic executives reasoned that by the time such investments bore fruit, they’d be out of there!”Terry Schmidt

Author(s):

  • Terry Schmidt

No. of pages:

  • 272 pages

Year published:

  • 2009

Estimated reading time:

  • Around 7 to 8 hours

Key takeaways:

  • Efficiently bridges the gap between pure theory and practical application
  • Great for both beginners who want an introduction and for veterans as it tackles complex issues

Ratings: 

  • 4.4/5 (Amazon) – “First material, I have ever found on Logical frame work, which doesn’t much talk about tag but about application. Invest your time in reading this book, and get the way to convert your dream into a SMART goal. Thank you, Terry Schmidt”
  • 3.8/5 (Goodreads) 
  • Intermediate to Advanced

Improve your Project Management with ClickUp

So there you have it! These top 10 project management books will be your trusted companions throughout your journey—from a beginner to an expert in project management. 

That being said, theoretical knowledge is just the beginning. When you step into the fray, wouldn’t you like to be assisted by the best project management tool that is also free forever? 

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Many of these project management books emphasize the importance of considering the big picture. ClickUp’s Project Hierarchy feature is designed specifically for this purpose. 

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Repetitive tasks can interrupt smooth project management. Use ClickUp AI’s robust automation features to streamline these tasks and free up your team to concentrate on what truly matters. 

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What are you waiting for? See what professional-grade project management looks like. Try ClickUp for free today!

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