I'm happy to share that I've started writing again. I'm now working on Atomic Project Management. If you bought "Professional Project Management with Roam," you'll also get a copy of Atomic Project Management (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) once it is out. Below is v1 of Chapter 1.
Thanks again for your support. Feedback and questions are much appreciated.
Freedom Amidst the Pandemic
It was April 2020 when the pandemic first hit my city.
During that time, it was still unclear how deadly and how transmissible the virus was. My city had no experience dealing with epidemics. The government decided to put everyone in lock-down.
I was already years into my journey of entrepreneurship. To survive in that journey, I had to believe that I was the master of my fate, that I could influence the future, that I could change this little part of the world I operate in.
The lock-down shook this foundation.
I retreated to the inner world of journaling and I escaped to the internet. A few months prior, I came across a new kind of software called "Tools for Thought." I started using one of them, Roam Research.
Previously, my notes were siloed across different software. Business and project management were mostly in Trello, Asana and Google Docs. My academic work was in OneNote and a separate Google Docs account. My personal notes were in OneNote and in Google Keep.
All of these gradually migrated to Roam. Once they were inside my graph, the barriers between them started to disappear.
Later that month, the confluence of these formerly siloed parts of my life presented an opening, an escape from that mental prison I was in.
I was going to contribute to fighting the pandemic by bringing genomic pathogen surveillance to my city.
Ten months later, I had built an international team of students and scientists. We got funding. We sent equipment and provided training to a partner lab in Mindanao, Philippines. That lab made history: the first sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 enabled by volunteers, and the first on-site sequencing of any organism in Mindanao, Philippines. We were eventually featured in CNN. This was Project Accessible Genomics (accessiblegenomics.org).
Atomic All The Way Down
The pandemic was a reminder of the shortness of life. This reminder spurred me to write my first book. It was an rBook (a Roam book), written in the format of Roam Research, and read with it. This book you are reading is a later version of that rBook.
"What's the most valuable thing I could share?" This is the first question of any non-fiction writer. My answer came from my experience with Project Accessible Genomics. I learned professional project management in my time in corporate tech. I later used it in building my business. That pandemic project showed me that project management is not just a way to earn a living, or to put some order to the chaos that is entrepreneurship. We each have ideas we want to manifest in the world. With project management, we not only say Yes to those inspirations. We honor them with execution.
There are three reasons why this book is entitled "Atomic Project Management." The first has to do with honoring those commitments to ideas. Work is what turns ideas to reality. We can view the lifetime ahead of us as blocks of time, a portion of which can be used for work. Those containers could only be filled once. Professional project management helps us fill those containers with the right blocks of work.
The kind of project management I share in this book is atomic in another sense. I learned most of the frameworks in this book from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which divides project management work into "Knowledge Areas". This breaks down project management into more manageable domains, and acts as a checklist ensuring that you are not neglecting aspects of managing projects well. Project management is not a methodology you apply to all projects. It is a toolbox. I wish to share not only how to use each tool, but when to use them.
The third reason for this book's title is the class of software I present alongside project management frameworks. Most "project management software" focus on task management and collaboration. These software are not designed for more fundamental project management work like managing scope, risks and stakeholders. In the past, I used mindmaps, word processors and spreadsheets for this work. In this book, I share how a Tool for Thought like Roam Research is a better option for many areas of project management. To me, their key innovation is block-level containers—e.g., each work package or risk is an entity that could be uniquely referenced. In other words, these are software that can be as atomic as the style of project management I present in this book.
A Toolbox for Complex Orchestration of Work
The world is emerging from the pandemic I as write this introduction. The time will be ripe for some of your ideas. To come to fruition, some of those ideas will require complex orchestration of work. In those cases, I hope this toolbox and accompanying manual will help you turn those ideas to reality.
In the next chapter, I lay out the map of this book and pathways you can take around it.