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Top 10 Agile Books for Project Managers

The importance of project management had long remained undiscovered until now. Presently, every organization relies on project management for effective execution of their business operations with effective use of resources. Also, project management has become the foundation for drawing attention to safety and risk management in different projects.

As the project management landscape grows in scale, it has also been associated with the inclusion of new concepts and methodologies for project management. However, recently, the demand for agile books has increased, and this is not something that has been brought out of the blue. So, shall we discuss what is ‘agile’ and what are the best ‘agile books’ for project managers?

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10 Best Agile Books for the Project Managers

The world of project management witnessed the introduction of agile methodology for project management in 2001. With the Manifesto for Agile Software Development declared, agile methodology found its way into the IT as well as other industries. You can find agile project management books starting with a basic explanation of agile methodology.

The focus on the term ‘methodology’ is so prominent because agile is nothing but a software development methodology which uses shorter lifecycles albeit with better completion. The notable benefit derived from the shorter and well-completed lifecycles in software development projects helps in quicker and frequent product releases.

In simple words, agile project management showed the way to save costs as well as resources by moving away from the traditional phase-wise method for project management. Project managers depend on an agile book to understand the changes in their roles and responsibilities. So, in this article, we shall discuss the 10 most popular agile books for project managers. Even though many promising agile books can help project managers, these 10 mentions can be good bets to learn agile project management.  So, let’s get ahead!

1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge by Project Management Institute

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Sixth Edition by [Project Management Institute]
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The first entry into the list of best agile books for project managers is “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” or the PMBOK Guide – Sixth Edition. This book is the most basic documentation suitable for project management and is recommended by the most credible authority in project management. It can be quite difficult to undermine the importance of an agile book from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

This book is an essential requirement for project managers to understand the fundamentals of project management. The book involves insights obtained from the collaboration among many working project managers that can be applied to different types of projects. This book is the prerequisite to start reading other agile project management books. Considered as an international standard for project managers, this project provides crucial tools for practicing project management and deliver efficient results.

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2. Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process by Kenny Rubin

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The second book in this list is “Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process” by Kenny Rubin. This lean agile book can be easily considered as the best alternative to many agile books because of its comprehensiveness in Scrum agile methodology. This book provides an insight into the knowledge presented by leading scrum coach and trainer, Kenny Rubin.

The book reflects prominently on the principles, practices, and values related to Scrum and also presents effective and flexible approaches that can help in scrum implementation. The benefits of the book are also noted in introduction, clarification, and investigation into concepts related to Scrum at different levels of team, product, and portfolio. The effective illustration of the personal experiences of Rubin is another promising highlight of this book. Also, the book uses a completely new visual icon lexicon for a description of roles, activities, and artefacts in Scrum.

3. Agile Project Management for Dummies by Mark C. Layton

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Another notable mention among the best agile books is “Agile Project Management for Dummies” by Mark C. Layton. The book, as its name suggests, is a promising tool to help understand agile project management from scratch. The step-by-step guidance offered for understanding the different techniques, approaches, and tools for agile project management is the best highlight of this book.

The book is an ideal choice for understanding and implementing agile techniques in practical contexts. This is one of the most popular agile books for a reason! Practical experiences in studying agile methodology could help in identifying the exact time for using agile. Also, the insights from experts present in this book help in avoiding common pitfalls in the use of agile methodology.

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4. Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition by Lyssa Adkins

Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) by [Adkins, Lyssa]
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“Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches and Project Managers in Transition” by Lyssa Adkins is one of the top agile books. The author has presented credible insights for agile coaches to develop an adaptive mindset required for coaching agile teams. The book helps in gaining comprehensive details about the roles of agile coaches, adapting significant skills from the fields of professional mentoring and coaching.

Considered as one of the comprehensive agile books, this one can be suitable for agile coaches, leaders, trainers, project managers, team members, mentors and even product owners. Some of the notable areas covered in this lean agile book include the prerequisites for becoming a good agile coach and mastering the different roles of an agile coach.

The book also helps project managers learn more about developing an environment to promote high performance and self-organized teams. Most important of all, the book presents insights on team coaching to ensure full collaboration. Other important topics in this book include the evolution of leadership style, active engagement of project managers and coaches, and obtaining the most out of personal agile coaching.

5. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland

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The book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland is one of the best agile books known for practical insights into project methodology. This book helps in experiencing Scrum in real-time applications with emphasis on team interaction, continuous iterative improvement, and comprehensive accountability.

The examples presented in the book include how pharmacists interact with patients, the transition of FBI into the 21st century and the reduction of poverty in the Third World. The involvement of Jeff Sutherland in the first Scrum team that was developed almost two decades ago is another reason to consider this book. Therefore, the book can be accounted for as a credible source of ideas to implement Scrum agile methodology for pioneering new technologies and applications.

6. Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen

Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (Pragmatic Programmers) by [Derby, Esther, Larsen, Diana, Schwaber, Ken]
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The next mention in this list of top agile books is “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great” by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. The book is a different take on observing details of what worked well for a project and what did not work. However, evaluation of project retrospectives would only imply delays in identifying discrepancies. Therefore, this book presents tips, tricks, best practices and tools needed for fixing issues in a project iteratively and incrementally.

Considered as one of the must-read agile books for project managers, this book provides helpful guidance on the general architecture of retrospectives. It also focuses on designing retrospectives tailored to the organizations and teams as well as their effective implementation, making necessary changes and scaling the techniques. Also, the book presents insights on resolving problems through the course of the project rather than at the end.

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7. Agile Project Management with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber

The name of “Agile Project Management with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber is also a prominently noted book for learning agile methodology. As a co-creator of Scrum and technical evangelist, the author, Ken Schwaber, provides real-world lessons through various cases studies.

This can be one of the reasons to put this book among the most popular agile books for project managers. The plethora of knowledge related to practical scenarios of agile project management based on years of experience of Ken is the foremost highlight of this book.

The book provides insights into the use of Scrum for solving complex problems and promoting better results.

8. Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products by Jim Highsmith

Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (Agile Software Development Series) by [Highsmith, Jim]
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The unavoidable entry in this list of agile books for project managers is “Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products” by Jim Highsmith. The book has been commended by many experts in the field of project management. Many of the positive reviews for the book have been based on its functionality in combining the use of agile methodology and project management in practical scenarios.

Targeting the project managers, leaders, and executives at all levels, Highsmith combines the best practices for product management, product management, and software development into an overall framework in this book.  Some of the notable topic areas addressed by this book include APM phases, APM practices and the use of PMI skills in agile environments. Some other new topics covered in this book are scaling agile projects, incorporating agile values, release planning, enhancing organizational agility, portfolio governance, release planning, etc.

9. The Project Manager’s Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach by Charles G. Cobb

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The next addition to this list of agile books suited for project managers is “The Project Manager’s Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach” by Charles G. Cobb. The book stands out with its uniqueness with a prominent emphasis on an objective approach for understanding agile project management. This book’s most explicit highlight is the outline of the strengths and weaknesses of traditional as well as agile project management.

Furthermore, the insights into real-world case studies and sample agile frameworks implemented at the enterprise level increase this book’s credibility. Though its content, this book will help you develop a more adaptive approach with agile in order to improve collaboration, time-to-market, communication, and project outcomes. Also, this book gives new insights to help the project managers so they could have a stronger grasp on using agile methodologies to improve project efficiency and outcomes.

10. The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility by Michele Sliger and Stacia Broderick

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Finally, this discussion would round up on the final entry “The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility” by Michele Sliger and Stacia Broderick. This book provides reasonable insights into the working of agile, its benefits as well as its real-world outcomes. The most striking aspect in this book can be found clearly in the mapping of PMBOK imperatives to agile processes and identifying the similarities, differences as well as overlaps.

The main emphasis of this book is on the use of agile techniques for systematic and continual reduction of risk alongside avoiding common mistakes in the agile transformation. The authors start this book with coverage of how agile works, how it is different from traditional methodologies, benefits of agile, and its real-time outcomes. Also, the book covers PMI’s methodology of independent and classic techniques to agile practices. The book covers both the process and project lifecycles and addresses the crucial issues related to scope, time, cost management, and stakeholder communication.

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So, these are the top 10 agile books that has gained significant popularity among the project managers. Furthermore, there are many other books on agile project management, which are gaining popularity among project managers. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that good project managers with expertise in agile methodology should have to adapt a mindset for change. So, have the best of these books and improve your expertise in agile project management for the best results. 

Final Words

An observation of the different books mentioned in this discussion clearly shows that you can choose any one of them based on your proficiency. For example, beginners could rely on books which provide a detailed explanation of agile and how it is different from conventional project management techniques. However, professional project managers could choose books which illustrate real-world examples and case studies.

An agile certification i.e. PMI-ACP demonstrates and validates the agile knowledge of project managers. The books mentioned-above will also help you in your preparation for the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner exam. The role of proper training and practice can’t be neglected in the preparation of a certification exam. So, if you want to become a certified Agile professional, check out our PMI-ACP training course and be ready to get recognition for your skills.

About Neeru Jain

Technology Scientist by Mind and Passionate Writer by Heart!! With an enthusiasm for technological research and learning, Neeru turned out to be a technology expert. Her Belief: “Words are powerful enough to change Mind, Life, and the World; only the writer should have a real passion for Writing!!”
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