Project Pain Reliever

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A Just-In-Time Handbook for Anyone Managing Projects
Edited by Dave Garrett
Hardcover, 7 x 10, 424 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60427-039-6
October 2011

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Much of the work performed in organizations around the world today is project oriented. Those responsible for leading the majority of these projects to successful results have varied educational backgrounds, knowledge, skill sets, and experiences gained over the course of their lives and careers that do not include the professional discipline known as project management. Most are managing projects as part of their role, not their profession. However, these accidental project managers frequently run into the same sort of issues and problems faced by those whose profession is project management, but they lack the education or training to properly address them. As a result, more projects run by accidental project managers fail than succeed.

This handbook was developed specifically for those accidental project managers and for the relatively new project managers within the profession. It is uniquely organized in a manner designed to help these project managers quickly find specific solutions to the problems they are desperate to fix right now!

The text is divided into two broad categories: the Art of Project Management and the Science of Project Management. Each part is divided into chapters to narrow the user’s search by type of issue that project managers encounter, such as Planning and Managing Risks. These are then further divided by specific problems labeled as sub-chapters, such as ‘The company’s project management process doesn’t work for me’ and ‘My project is too dependent on a few key people’. Project Pain Reliever: A Just-In-Time Handbook for Anyone Managing Projects is essentially a plug-and-play answer to the accidental project manager’s problems, and a valuable desk reference for all project managers.

Key Features

  • Presents insights and specific guidance from more than 30 leading project management experts that were sourced from around the world for their specialized knowledge and experience
  • Provides quick references to problems often encountered by anyone managing projects and specific solutions to these problems using language that is easy to understand and techniques that can be applied immediately
  • Each of the 93 sub-chapters brings clarity to the perceived problem, describes warning signs, includes a sidebar example, explains what will happen if you do nothing, and outlines a best practice solution and specific steps for solving the problem
  • WAV offers handy “What you have learned” summaries for addressing problems contained within the book, additional problems with solutions, and other useful resources — available from the Web Added ValueTM Download Resource Center

About the author(s)

Dave Garrett is president and CEO of, the world’s largest online community of project managers. Garrett is a project manager dedicated to creating value for the project management community and to the continued growth of’s media networks which now reach over 500,000 managers worldwide. His strategic, management, and technical expertise has enabled him to guide the gantthead team in the development and refinement of resources that are unmatched in the project management industry.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Focusing Your Efforts
1.1: Whom do I have to please?
1.2: How do I define “success” on this project?
1.3: Different people want different things at different times.
1.4: I’m technically on track, but not accomplishing what people wanted.
1.5: I feel like I need to start over.
1.6: I feel all alone. Where can I turn for advice?
1.7: Management just changed the goals. How do I reset the direction?
1.8: I’m having trouble making decisions.
1.9: Sponsors won’t decide what they want.
1.10: What my sponsor wants doesn’t make sense.
1.11: What makes my project important?

Chapter 2: Motivating People
2.1: I feel like I’m the only one who cares.
2.2: Team members aren’t excited about their work.
2.3: Team members question whether the project is worth doing.
2.4: People feel like they don’t get credit for the work they do.
2.5: My team doesn’t believe in their ability to execute.
2.6: My team doesn’t believe in the plan or schedule.
2.7: My team doesn’t believe in me as a manager.

Chapter 3: Effectively Communicating
3.1: How do I gain my team’s trust?
3.2: I don’t understand what my stakeholders want.
3.3: My team members misunderstand or will not follow my directions.
3.4: What should my relationships with my team look like?
3.5: What should my relationship with my sponsor look like?
3.6: People say they don’t know what is going on.
3.7: I can’t get people to see my point of view.
3.8: Someone on my team has an answer, but I can’t get it out of them.
3.9: How do I deliver bad news?
3.10: I can’t get management to resolve an issue or dispute.
3.11: My boss won’t listen to me.
3.12: I can’t get the team to talk to each other effectively.

Chapter 4: Navigating People Challenges
4.1: The office politics are killing me.
4.2: My sponsor doesn’t trust me or give me the authority I need.
4.3: My team members pad their estimates.
4.4: Some team members lack the skills they need.
4.5: Other projects keep stealing my resources.
4.6: My team isn’t really a team.
4.7: My team spends more time arguing than working.
4.8: There is too much finger pointing.
4.9: People around me have hidden agendas.
4.10: I do too much work to manage anything.


Chapter 5: Dealing With Constraints, Assumptions, and Scope
5.1: We took on too much.
5.2: Everything has changed. I need to reset goals and expectations.
5.3: We don’t have the resources we need.
5.4: We’re fine, but over budget.
5.5: We’re fine, but short on time.
5.6: We can get everything done on time and under budget, but not very well.
5.7: My project’s end point is a moving target.
5.8: Part of my project has no end to it.
5.9: The requirements keep changing.

Chapter 6: Building and Delivering on Requirements
6.1: My sponsor told me what to do, but there’s not enough detail.
6.2: We ended up with the wrong design.
6.3: We have the wrong technology for the job.
6.4: The design meets the requirements, but does not satisfy the project’s goal.
6.5: Beyond being done, how do I measure quality?
6.6: The team is frustrated with rework based on changing requirements.
6.7: Our specifications are unclear.
6.8: We spend too much time on documentation.
6.9: Sponsors complain that documentation and training are insufficient.

Chapter 7: Planning
7.1: I don’t understand why we need to plan so much.
7.2: How do I break down a project into smaller parts?
7.3: Everything is “top priority.”
7.4: Someone must have done this before. Where do I find more info?
7.5: I have no idea how to estimate how long this will take.
7.6: The project management software is not helping me.
7.7: My schedule is totally unrealistic.
7.8: It’s hard for me to tell what is important (the critical path).
7.9: I made some wrong assumptions.
7.10: The company’s project management process doesn’t work for me.
7.11: Everything is urgent, and I’m behind.
7.12: Oops, I forgot a chunk of work that needs to be done.
7.13: We have no Plan B.
7.14: Whenever I propose a project schedule, I am asked to compress it.

Chapter 8: Managing People Day to Day
8.1: Meetings are a waste of time.
8.2: Vendors are not delivering.
8.3: People ignore my emails.
8.4: I may not have the right team.
8.5: I am not sure how much process is enough.
8.6: I do not know enough technical stuff to manage.
8.7: There are too many issues to handle in a timely fashion.
8.8: How much status is enough?
8.9: I don’t know how to test to ensure things will work.
8.10: I can’t work well with people at a distance.
8.11: I don’t know how to balance my project and team needs!

Chapter 9: Managing Risks
9.1: I didn’t realize what could happen if this project fails.
9.2: Problems keep popping up that I did not expect.
9.3: The importance of my project changed.
9.4: My project is too dependent on a few key people.
9.5: Some of this project is beyond my control.
9.6: Costs are much higher than we thought.
9.7: I don’t know if a real risk is an “issue.”
9.8: How do I know what might be a problem in the future?
9.9: Should we end this project early?
9.10: There’s been a crisis, beyond the scope of my project!



“Whether you are managing your first project or your hundredth, you are likely to face new challenges. Project Pain Reliever offers guidance you’ll cherish and want to keep close by.”
Kevin Murphy, Managing Partner, Conner Partners

“This book is like a therapy session for project managers. I’m prescribing this to my team. No more guesswork for new PMs. Project Pain Reliever lays it all out, with a 360 degree view on all the possible scenarios a PM will face, and prescribes a strategy to deal with them. As a project manager, I’m often trying to help my team members understand why we cannot do certain things — like scope-creep. This book will serve as a great tool to educate and re-enforce!”
Laureen Heinz, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Blackbelt, Managing Consultant, Practice Services, CA Technologies

“This is a wonderful and thorough overview of a number of very common, yet complex, problems and solutions that project and functional managers of all levels can benefit from. The honest writing style and poignant anecdotes also make this an enjoyable read. I’ve added Project Pain Reliever to my team’s professional reading list… it is equally applicable to everyone on my team — from the greenest summer intern to my most seasoned business leader.”
Aaron Hall, PMP, Vice President, Program Management and Product Development, K12 Inc.