Project Management Fundamentals for Data Analysts

“This is going to take WAY longer than I thought!”

How many times have you said this in the past week? The past month? The past year?

Why’s it so hard to estimate how long a task will take? How many people it’ll take? Whether you’re able to add it to your to-do’s?

Almost every project runs over deadline. Why does this happen despite everyone’s best efforts? What’s going on? Should we just shrug our shoulders and accept “that’s just the world of modern work”?

I don’t think so. Not at all.

Project Management for Data Analysts book cover. Cartoonish drawing showing a laptop, with the left side on fire and icons showing 666 unread emails, a crying emoji, pennies, pie chart, a data dot pdf file and speech bubbles asking when the work will be done by. The right hand side shows a smiling face, cash, nice graphs, a thumbs up and speech bubbles saying thanks and fantastic!
In Project Management Fundamentals for Data Analysts, I’ve boiled the concepts down to the bare essentials complete with illustrations and examples.

Even if you wish to never read another word on the topic, these concepts can be used to great effect on their own. It’ll also provide a solid foundation if you want to dive deeper into more formal courses or sophisticated theory.

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You can plan for the curve-balls that come your way when managing a project. It’s possible to develop a sense of intuition about whether a project is about to be delayed or how to solve problems as they arise. Even better than that, it’s possible to plan projects that head off many of the setbacks that others consider to be an unfathomable, inevitable occurrence.

Whether you’re managing a project, or are part of one, there are fundamental principles at play. Once you learn about them, you’ll spot them happening all around you. I’ll bet that if you check your inbox right now – there’s at least one message that’s about to affect the Lead Time, Critical Path, Effort, Overhead or Capacity of the projects you’re juggling. And Data Analysts end up having to do a lot of juggling.

Just like you need to learn fundamental concepts in maths or physics to extrapolate solutions to more complex problems, so too will learning about the fundamental concepts of project management help you for the rest of your career. Frankly, as astonishing as it is that we send high schoolers out into the world without any knowledge of how taxes work, bills, credit or managing a household budget, neither do most Data Analysts get ANY training on how to manage projects. None at all. That’s really unfortunate given how central data is becoming to many organizations’ current and future operating models, with data analysts needing the skills to manage projects of growing scope and complexity.

Learning is a lifelong exercise, but I don’t think many Project Management resources lend themselves as a good introduction to the topic. Courses are quite long, the material a bit dry or they have a lot of advanced stuff packaged up with the basics to justify high price tags.

Testimonial from Salar, Health Care Data Analyst with 4 years of experience: "This is one of the first books I've read in a long time that's able to communicate so many critical concepts in such a short read. I've tried similar content in this area and many are lengthier but you don't walk away with actionable knowledge. I love that I was able to read it multiple times in a short period and feel confident about taking these concepts and applying them to my own work"
Testimonial from Dewi, Senior Data Scientist with 9 years of experience: "The part about managers spending all their time on overhead really hit home. I think it's important for people to understand all the things that managers need to do!"
Testimonial from Kimberley, Data Analyst with 5 years experience: ""The ideas in the book are described very clearly and simply. The illustrations add clarity to areas that could be confusing. I've a sense of camaraderie with other Data Analysts in that we all have similar project management problems we're trying to get our arms around and this is a very practical resource!"
Testimonial from John, Data Analyst with 10+ years of experience: "I enjoyed this. It's short, readable and easy to understand. I learned some new info and it's applied to a data analysis context which made the concepts more relevant."
Testimonial from Paulius, Data Analyst with 2 years experience: "This is a great read and a lot of data analysts will benefit from reading this book!"

Ready to level up your project management skills?

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Sample content

Table of contents, 35 pages total. Main chapters are: What you can expect from this book; Why this book?; The building blocks of projects; Effort, overhead and capacity; How projects catch fire; How to deal with all of this; In conclusion; Further reading; Incident checklist; Lead time checklist; A few last things
Three images drawn in crude, stick figure style. First is a person hunched over a laptop with a clock on the wall and a green highlight colour. It's titled "Effort, how much of a person's time's needed to complete a task a.k.a. task duration”. The second is a smiling person with a headset and purple colour highlight, titled "Overhead, special type of effort required to coordinate tasks. Third image is a small vertical bar divided into time unit increments, with some increments coloured purple, and some green. The remaining increments are empty. It's titled "Capacity, how much effort a person or team has available”. Emphasis on the word "available".
Bulleted list titled: Lead time checklist; What factors affect project lead time? Number Stakeholders; Novelty of tasks; Complexity of tasks; Familiarity with the data; Scope creep; Domain expertise required; Willingness of stakeholders to accept the result


Is this book only for data analysts?

It’s geared towards any professional working with data. The principles apply to any role, but many of the examples I’ve used relate to the typical work of an analyst.

Is this book for experienced data analysts? New analysts?

Both :). Newer analysts will benefit A LOT from this book – I really think every analyst should read it. If you’re more experienced professional, at the very least you’ll either learn one or two new things, solidify concepts you’ve experienced or at the very least, it will give you vocabulary and practices to help coach others around you.

Can I share this with my team?


Is there a print version?

Not right now but if there’s a lot of interest then I’ll certainly consider it. Let me know at if this is something you’d like!

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