#153 Book Review: Small Archaeology Project Management

153 SAPM Photo.jpg

By William White (@succinctBill) - $0.00 on Kindle!

A few months ago Bill had me, and others, read an advance copy of his new eBook, “Small Archaeology Project Management: How to Run Cultural Resource Management Projects Without Busting Your Budget”. Bill is a long-time CRM Archaeologist and the founder and Research Director of Succinct Research. His company conducts research for publications for cultural resource management, historic preservation, and heritage conservation service providers. They also help people land professional jobs by providing information on resume and CV writing and job hunting.

I’m going to say this at the top for those people that don’t scroll down before moving on:


(Read this blog on the website and you'll see a link to the book on Amazon.)

Small Archaeology Project Management (SAPM) is a must-read for new and experienced CRM professionals. Bill structures the book to be essentially a field manual for project managers, and, since it’s an eBook you could literally take it into the field with you. Any smartphone or tablet on the market today can use the Kindle App which you can use to read the book, and on some devices, annotate with notes.

SAPM starts out with a section that ensures you know what you’re getting into. You need to know much about a project before you can even accurately bid on it, which means research. Bill also talks about what he means by “small project” so you know how to apply the information in the book to your project.

 He goes over some things that seem obvious when you hear them but that most people don’t think about because they have so much on their plate already. For example, when your boss gives you a project you should, after familiarizing yourself with the details, figure out what the chain-of-command is for the project, both within your own company and on the client’s side. Knowing who’s in charge and who is responsible for what is extremely important and will help complete the project in a timely manner and under budget.

The next section, “Countdown to Liftoff” is all about making sure you’re ready for the field. Do the background research BEFORE going in the field. I’ve worked for companies that were so disorganized and scattered that the background research wasn’t done until we were either in the field or already out of the field. Crew chiefs recorded historic roads “from the office” because they found them on historic maps AFTER finishing the field work. Don’t be those people.

After the pre-field prep it’s time for Boots on Ground! The “Go Do It” section of SAPM shows you how to manage your field time so you stay on schedule. Bill gives great advice such as, “Do more than planned on the first day and keep this fast pace until the project is almost over.” That way you can relax at the end and not get caught with more than you can handle on the last day of the session.

Now you’re back in the office and are “sitting atop a mound of data”. The analysis and writing phase of the project begins. Bill gives step by step details of how to maximize your efficiency when you get back from the field. He covers everything starting from downloading data and processing artifacts. He stays relevant by talking about the eventual ubiquity of tablet computers in the field and how they will change the post-field activities leading to report writing. SAPM also covers how to structure your report writing time so you complete the report accurately and on time without going over your very limited budget. 

The last section talks about expanding on your projects for research projects and keeping in contact with your crew once they are sent to other projects and companies. The work of a CRM archaeologist is never done. If you find yourself with spare time then you’re probably not doing enough to get your data to the public and the scientific community in an interesting and readable way (my personal opinion).

The appendices include a handy pre-field checklist, a pre-field equipment list, a sample emergency contact sheet, a health and safety plan sign-in sheet, a writing schedule for report writing, and a recommended reading list.

There is no reason not to download this book. Everyone should read it and take away what they need to succeed. Even if you’ve been doing CRM archaeology for years you may find that you’re stuck in a rut and have forgotten some handy tips and tricks over the years. Read this book and you’re sure to find something that can help you increase your efficiency and finish your projects under budget and on time.

Check out Bill’s website and blog at www.succinctresearch.com and follow him on Twitter @succinctBill.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!