Andrew Johnston's Publications

Reviews of A Hacker's Guide to Project Management


‘This is a splendid little book. Concise and well written, well presented and well worth reading.’ Alan Richardson of Compendium Developments (

‘…you realise the author has plenty of experience in project management - seen it, done it, doing it tomorrow. ... you will find this book valuable if you are steering a project for the first time.’ Mark Brett, Information Technology For Local Government

‘A staggering proportion of software development projects fail. This book is the perfect comfort blanket for anyone who has just been promoted to running a small software development team and doesn’t want their project to be one of the failures.’ Louise Cole, PC Magazine

‘You simply MUST buy this book if you are an aspiring PM. If you are a practicing or wannabe Project Manager this book is the best friend you never knew you had.’, 5 Star Customer Review

‘If you’re just starting out in the world of Project Management, make this the first book on your bookshelf!’., Customer Review

‘An excellent guide to the realities of project management at the technical coalface.’ John Levett, interim programme manager with JXL Management

Lawrence Arkle of Leicester, UK , 16 October, 1999

Required reading for the novice/beginner

If like me, you are just starting out in this field, or find yourself recently put in charge of a development team and you’re looking for some good commonsense advice, then this is a good place to start.

AJ has written this in an accessible and entertaining style. Where jargon is used he has explained it with clarity. He starts by covering the essential art of building a team, following in-house standards, planning and estimating and alerts you to pitfalls that often catch out even the most seasoned project manager.

As the title may suggest, this book won’t teach you to become Project Manager but it will start you off thinking like one and you will find it a valuable reference as you step through your first project or so. To get the maximum benefit, go cover-to-cover but you can dip in and pull out what you need to know very quickly and the recommended further reading section is an excellent ‘where do I go from here?’

If you’re just starting out in the world of Project Management, make this the first book on your bookshelf!

Book News, Inc. , December 1, 1995

You proved you're one of the best programmers around, and part of the plea bargain was that you go straight. So you end up in charge of a software development project with deliverables to produce, standards and procedures to observe, plans and budgets to meet and a bunch of strangers to manage and report to. Yikes! Here is a guide to how software development succeeds and fails, the key skills of a good project manager, the main stages and steps, some suggestions on what to do if things start to go wrong, and descriptions of books to tell you more. 


This practical guide for all project managers is packed with examples, hints and tips. It will enable managers to manage and build better systems on time and within budget. The book contains many Q&A sessions which indicate common questions and answers found by experienced project managers.

Managing a software development project is a complex process. There are lots of deliverables to produce, standards and procedures to observe, plans and budgets to meet, and different people to manage or report to. Project management doesn't just start and end with designing and building the system. Once you've specified, designed and built (or bought) the system it still needs to be properly tested, documented and settled into the live environment. This can seem like a maze to the inexperienced project manager, or even to the experienced project manager unused to a particular environment. This book acts as a guide ... read more

Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Deepak Sharma of Colombo, Sri Lanka  August 23, 1998

A superb book that gives the ABCs of management of software projects

An excellent book on how to manage complex computer software projects. The book gives the complex steps in easy to follow manner and not only tells you what to do but why and how to do it. An essential tool for any budding Project Leader and/or Project Manager. Even ISO9000 certified companies will find such a book a mandatory weapon in their armoury for tackling issues related to project management.

Mark Brett in Information Technology For Local Government, July 1995

Some hands-on skills for managing projects

I was captured by the title, A Hackers Guide to... While reading the book, you soon realise the author has plenty of experience in project management - seen it, done it, doing it tomorrow. The book is nicely illustrated and written in a non academic tone. The text is flowing and very readable in an informal and straightforward way, and there are references to numerous other books on specific topics. I can recommend one called Peopleware as a good team building book.

A Hacker's Guide to Project Management discusses the management of teams as well as the actual nuts and bolts of project management. Furthermore, it concentrates on software projects, however, the approach is equally valid for hardware related projects. The section on controlling changes particularly hit some home truths. The book examines the business processes involved in project management, forming a business case and presenting it. Money is an essential ingredient to any project and should be carefully managed.

Overall, the book is comprehensive, easy to read and informative in an enjoyable way. You will find this book valuable, if you are steering a project for the first time.

The Australian Computer Journal, August 1996

This is not a book to judge by its title, the oxymoronic nature of which led me to expect a publication humorously exploring the personality traits of creative programmers. In fact this is a serious attempt to help people learn to manage software development projects, part of a Computer Weekly Professional Series. The book aims to be a guide to the entire software project management process, primarily for inexperienced project managers, or experienced project managers moving to an unfamiliar environment.

The introduction provides advice on how to use the book, prerequisites, and so on. The text proper begins with a chapter titled Success and Failure', in which the author discusses in general terms why so many software projects fail, and how one can make a development a success. Subsequent chapters cover the stages of development: Planning and Estimating, Strategy, Analysis. Procurement, Design, Building, Documentation and Testing, Production, and Maintenance.

The introduction features a section on the relationship of the book to structured methods, where the author advises common sense in their application. The book isn't tied to any particular method, and it certainly isn't useless if you follow a different one. This is part of a general theme of pragmatism; at many points the reader is discouraged from dogmatic adherence to particular tools and techniques.

Within each chapter, sections are organised so that they always fit either on one page, or on two facing pages. At first I found this distracting, but changed my mind after spending more time with the book. This and other aspects of the book betray it as having been 'desktop published' with the author taking the opportunity to try new techniques.

The bibliography is good, covering a number of important texts and providing brief commentaries, but the main text makes no explicit references to the bibliography. However, the bibliography is subdivided by topic. The index has signs of hurried construction. Typical entries have dozens of page references rather than providing a subdivided entry. On the whole the book is a success and should have things to teach all kinds of software developers.

PC Magazine, August 1995

A staggering proportion of software development projects fail. This book is the perfect comfort blanket for anyone who has just been promoted to running a small software development team and doesn't want their project to be one of the failures. It's an introductory guide that has some valuable chapters for the experienced manager, but it's really aimed at the first-time leader. It concentrates on sound management principles, and promises to lead you through the pitfalls of PM, helping you to design, buy or build a system that fits everyone's need and budget.

Extremely easy to read, this is slim and pragmatic guide. It covers making estimates, apportioning resources, how to recognise and rectify your own weaknesses, designing, building, procurement, choosing appropriate techniques, testing, documentation and much more. It also points you in the direction of more detailed books. This guide is worthy of any new project manager's attention.

Buy It Now!


© Questa Computing Ltd. 1999
Page last updated 14 May, 2015 16:01

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