The deadline: a novel about project management

Front Cover
Dorset House Pub., 1997 - Business & Economics - 310 pages
2 Reviews
From prolific and influential consultant and author Tom DeMarco comes a project management novel that vividly illustrates the principles--and the outright absurdities--that affect the productivity of a software development team. With his trademark wit set free in the novel format, DeMarco centers the plot around the development of six software products. Mr. Tompkins, a manager downsized from a giant telecommunications company, divides the huge staff of developers at his disposal into eighteen teams--three for each of the software products. The teams are different sizes and use different methods, and they compete against each other and against an impossible deadline. With these teams--and with the help of numerous "fictionalized" consultants who come to his aid--Tompkins tests the project management principles he has gathered over a lifetime. Each chapter closes with journal entries that form the core of the eye-opening approaches to management illustrated in this entertaining novel.

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The book is a very successful and original composition of an intriguing novel and a useful and eye-opening insight into people and project management. The educational part does not require any trust in the author's credibility -- all conclusions are provided with an easy-to-follow reasoning and illustrated on realistic examples. The novel-part provides those examples in a way that allows them to unfold naturally, ring many bells in the reader's mind, and in addition to that, provide a captivating plot. It also features a very happy end. :)
One more thing to highlight in this almost 20 years old book is how it embraces diversity. It does so through explicit mentions, such as when the lead character is reminded that his "biases are showing" when expecting a talented technical female colleague to be a man. But it also does so through the composition of the characters: a good gender mix in strong positive characters, teams built from skilled people with different background (e.g., one of the engineers is a former kindergarten teacher), many nationalities are involved and meet in a fictional country led by an immigrant, etc.
I enjoyed reading this book and will be returning to it for advice in the future.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The best book about project management. I am reading it almost annually for past 8 years, and every time I find something useful that I did not notice previously, but is highly usable this very moment on a project that I am working on...


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