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on 3 January 2013
This book is not what you might expect. You might think this book would regurgitate the various functionalities of PCM 14, go through the menus available, and talk about each specific module and the fields involved. But that is not it. This book is something more.

Oracle PCM 14 starts by taking a step back from the tool itself and addressing the larger questions that drive a company and its projects:
- How do you manage information about a project in a consistent and collaborative manner?
- What information do you need to store about your project, both from a mangement and legal point of view?
- What processes do you need in place to manage project information effectively?

Only after addressing these fundamental questions does the author then delve into how PCM addresses these questions, as well as where it falls short. After starting off the first few chapters addressing the large picture, he then gets into the main functional areas of PCM, with good emphasis on the cost worksheet and change management - two of the more complicated aspects of the product.

These and other features are explained in a conversational style, and backed up with commentary and stories from the author's evidently vast experience in the industry. This is a refreshing change from the online documentation, which can tell you the how, but not the why. Each module is put into a real-world context. For example, when discussing change mangement, the author discusses a number of reasons that a change may be warranted. Even though PCM may treat these changes identically, there is a big difference between a back charge to a customer and a customer scope change, and the author helps the reader to understand these differences.

Another good example of real-world experience is the author's discussion of Requests for Information (RFIs). Project participants can have many excuses for not using RFIs, but the benefits, as discussed by the author, far outweigh the convenience of having project Q&A managed by email threads, or casual conversations, or mind-reading.

Finally, the last chapter looks to the future of PCM, which is Oracle's newly acquired product called Unifier. This is where the value of this book shines. The author discusses the differences between PCM and Unfier from a usablility and technical standpoint. There are substantial differences here, but as the author emphasizes, these are yet merely tools that assist companies in managing contracts and project data. And as the book has centered around the "why"- the practices and processes that are universal and do not change- the reader can see that the specifics of the "how" are simply implementation details, which can be covered by hands-on tutorials or online help systems. That gives this book value beyond the specific PCM product, and makes it a valuable educational text for anyone who must manage projects and contracts.
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