Its model incorporates the idea of a build life-cycle, it sets-up a web site with report generation capability, and it knows how to find and download utilities (such as code-checkers) and their required recourse's and libraries.
Find it @ http://maven.apache.org/
There are two comprehensive guides available :
"Better Builds with Maven,” by four authors (www.devzuz.com/web/guest/products/resources),
“Maven, The Definitive Guide,” by three authors (www.sonatype.com/book).
There is also Sing Li’s “Introduction to Apache Maven 2” (www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/edu/j-dw-java-mavenv2.html) which at 35 readable pages gives a quick, easy overview of the tool and how to get rolling.