The 5 Books Every IT Manager Should Read Right Now

By Bruce F. Webster Print this article Print

Post-mortem meetings are important, but they will only get you so far. Baseline columnist and senior IT project lead Bruce F. Webster reinforces one of the most overlooked aspects of IT management: Reading books. Webster outlines 5 books that are easy to read but chock full of real, practical project information and strategies for making IT management a better, less risky and more successful, less stress-inducing process.

In my last column, I talked about setting up a reading program for your IT department. However, whether or not you can get your IT engineers to read, you yourself need to be aware of the fundamental realities of IT project management and software engineer that have been discovered again and again. In other words, you need to lead by example and read this stuff first.

So here are five books that you should buy and read as soon as possible, if you have not already. And, honestly, if you have already read these books, you should probably read them again.

These are not the only books you should read -- here’s my full recommended reading list -- but these have the advantage of all being relatively thin and easy to get through, as well as all being currently in print.

The Mythical Man-Month (Anniversary Edition) by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.. Brooks first published The Mythical Man-Month in 1975. It was a collection of essays from his experience as project manager for the IBM OS/360 operating system team, and it became an instant classic, both for its readability and its fundamental truths.

Every time over the years that I’ve thought I’ve come up with some new key insight in IT project management, I’ve usually been able to find some passing reference to it in TMMM. In 1995, Brooks published an anniversary edition, which contains the text of the original edition, plus several more essays, including the classic “No Silver Bullet—Essence and Accident” as well as Brooks’ own analysis of how well his observations have held up.

This article was originally published on 2008-11-17
Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates LLC. He works with organizations to help them evaluate troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects, or to assess IT systems and products for possible investment/acquisition. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan.
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