Book Review: “Managing The Black Hole: The Executive’s Guide To Software Project Risk” (Gary Gack)

///Book Review: “Managing The Black Hole: The Executive’s Guide To Software Project Risk” (Gary Gack)

Book Review: “Managing The Black Hole: The Executive’s Guide To Software Project Risk” (Gary Gack)

For Project Managers, Program Managers and IT Executives looking to make their projects more efficient and profitable, “Managing The Black Hole: The Executive’s Guide To Software Project Risk (Business Expert Publishing) is a very practical and “deep-dive” book, with a lot of valuable suggestions and tips that I think will be fresh ideas to many readers.

The author, Gary Gack, is well-known to many in the IT PM world for his popular webinars, blog posts, and newsletters, all available via his site:

Gary’s book displays his obvious depth of hands-on experience and knowledge in IT project management / risk management, which comes through on every page.  One of the core principles he bases the book on is that there are two categories of companies: 1) Mature Organizations (15%) versus 2) Immature Organizations (85%).

He first details why the “Immature 85%” (most companies!) tend to consistently do very poorly on estimating, scheduling, quality management, sizing, risk management, and measurements.  He then follows through with “What You Can Do About It” (the closing section of the book), detailing clear and actionable advice based on the proven success rates of the Mature 15%.

A few of the key questions covered very well in this book:

– Do you do ONLY top-down or bottom-up estimating, or know how to use both in combination?

– Do you re-baseline whenever the scope of your project changes? And if so, how does that affect your measurements?

– Which do you emphasize more, process or performance?  And how about schedule versus quality?

– Do you know how to contract for quality in your procurements?

– Do you log successive estimates, and use them to improve your processes?

– Do you know your defect containment rate?

– Do you know how to use EV Lite?

– Do you adequately factor “project sizing” into your risk assessments?

Thanks to Jack Davis, PMP, who first recommended Gary to me as a resource.  Jack is a PMP Instructor and president of his own PM training company in NYC:

~~This blogpost was written by Jeff Furman, PMP Instructor, Presentation Skills Certification Trainer, and author of “The Project Management Answer Book” (2011, Management Concepts, Vienna, VA)

By | 2017-06-17T18:12:39-04:00 August 11th, 2011|Books, knowledge|2 Comments

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  1. Manager August 21, 2011 at 12:58 am - Reply

    You’ve got great insights about risk management, keep up the good work!

  2. jeff August 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Thanks very much for your comment. Of all the 9 PM Knowledge Areas, Risk Management is my #1 favorite. And when I teach my PMP class, my students often tell me how they like the very logical way I present the risk processes, making it very clear for them, and my passion for the topic. Jeff Furman

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