The Heavy-dependence of ICT around the world is forcing organisations to improve their management processes. The most popular method of smoothening then management process is Project Management Office; it helps in reducing delivery time for projects, increase efficiency in organisations and improve industrial relations when companies keep in touch with each other. In relation to ICT, organisations are able to deal with pressure in the job as well as keeping stakeholders informed about the ongoing projects. One of the major advantages of PMO is the establishment of organisational culture within the organisation and this increase efficiency and productivity.
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The ever increasing ICT dependency in virtually all economies is becoming a double-edged for players in the industry: it is a blessing because demand for ICT services has been rising and a headache because ICT professionals have to meet tight deadlines in most of their projects. Such a scenario is forcing the industry to adopt a new product management process, which would lead to increased efficiency and productivity, as well as punctuality in delivering projects (Johnson et al. 2002). The most prominent of the new processes is the Project Management Office (PMO), which relies on the establishment of departments whose primary role is to improve efficiency in major tasks. Such efficiency is vital in the ICT industry, which is in dire need of fluid processes that would lead to quicker delivery of projects.
Though this management process is still young, it provided management students and academicians with a great opportunity to expand their knowledge in the field, which is partially the goal of this project. A significant portion will elaborate on three main items: First would be the definition of PMO and how organisations could establish departments dedicated to attaining its efficiency. The second section would provide specific processes that help improve project management in the PMO department. The third potion would elaborate on key processes that would bring out best practices in a PMO environment. The fourth section will extrapolate on the organisational culture that would accrue from the practice of Project Management Office in individual organisations.
This report uses Turbit’s (2005) procedure in illustrating the importance of PMO in the ICT industry. Turbit’s procedure helps in three key steps of project management: PMO establishment, execution and testing its results. The establishment of PMO is determined by organisational needs and its understanding by the senior management and employees. In cases where organisations are establishing such a department for the first time, it is necessary to involve the services of outside professionals. The second stage of this procedure investigates the best practices that ensure efficiency is attained. The third stage involves testing whether the intended results were attained. Some examples of ICT companies that have used this model would be looked into; recommendations would be developed from best practices in such organisations.
The use of a project management office is mostly beneficial to organisations that happen to undertake a cluster of projects in given periods (Mill 2007). PMO can also be used in projects that happen only once in an organisation’s lifetime. The increasing popularity of this process is stunning considering that it is a relatively new concept in management texts. However, (Turbit 2005) contends that PMO is relatively new in practice and in theory; the system had been in use a long time before it found its way into academic literature. Despite this dispute regarding PMO’s theoretical foundations, its use has been expanding quickly across industries and nations (Lientz & Rea 2001). The success of the PMO process in organisational projects has led to aggressive introductions of its tenets in business schools and organisational training manuals.
Functional Organisational Structure versus Project Management Office
The fictional organisational structure is where the workforce is divided according to speciality (Hill 2004) which leads to the departmental division of labour. It thus happens that a project is undertaken by various teams with goals of attaining a specific goal; they are all directed and managed by different individuals. This means there lacks of central command for a specific project. Though this procedure has been utilized for many years and in various industries, its popularity seems to be waning because of the increased need to integrate processes under one command. Resources for the said projects are therefore distributed from the senior management directly to each working group. On the other hand is the PMO, which designates an independent department that deals with project management. This means that employees engaging in a specific project work under one command. Budgeting is therefore provided to the department and then redistributed to the smaller working groups. This department is equally referred to as Project Management Office. PMO is tasked with the responsibility to oversee all that goes into the project, starting from planning to execution and even analyzing impacts to the organization. More autonomy in the department is deemed to increase its productivity. The increasing popularity of PMO within the industry is leading to the eventual replacement of fictional project management as the most preferred way to run important tasks in an organization.
PMO and How to Establish its Systems
A project management office (PMO) refers to the establishment of the central department that handles all processes pertaining to tasks of substantial value to an organisation (Dai & Wells 2004). Tasks being managed could be going into the long run or just many short projects that get performed in an organisation for long durations of time. Having such departments reduces the need for constant consulting or contracting out every time organisations need help with projects. Project management office thus end-up serving as an internal consulting team that senior management and other stakeholders take as a point of reference. In that regard, officials in the office are usually well accustomed to the special needs of different projects; they maintain and update documentation that helps to keep stakeholders informed on progress.
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The office further helps organisations to meet regulatory frameworks as well as industry and international standards pertaining to specific projects. Such internal mechanisms have several tangible benefits to organisations. First, office employees end up developing managerial and industrial skills that improve productivity. Second, the higher propensity of meeting government and industry standards lead to much respect in the market and society, which is virtually all organisations. Third, organisations are able to accomplish projects on time, because of the shorter communication channels that would be used in sharing information regarding some anticipated needs in specific projects. Fourth, internal project management mechanisms make decision-making and consensus-building easier, because team members happen to work with each other on many occasions and on different projects. The accruing teams thus find it easy to develop individual and team cultures that lead to greater efficiency in project activities.
A successful project management office is the one that meets the following criteria, which is rooted in the way such offices are established: First, establishing the office should be done in collaboration with experts (consultants) in the field, especially in situations where organisations are doing it for the first time. Undertaking a quick establishment process could lead to skipping some important steps. Secondly, responsibilities to be accorded project management office must be agreed upon before work begins; it makes it easier for employees to understand their mandate so they could make tentative plans. Third, organisations should ensure the signing of written agreements with employees manning PMOs—which helps in creating confidence among employees in this department. Fourth, channels of communication between the office and the rest of the organisations should be established; PMO should also be accorded the power to directly communicate to other stakeholders, such as suppliers and contractors, without going through parent organisations. Organisations that take those steps in the establishment of their project management offices should be assured of timely project delivery and efficiency in the management process.
Challenges and Benefits Involved in Implementing PMO in ICT Industry
Implementing PMO mechanisms does not come easy for organisations that are used to the old fictional management systems, because it requires a complete overhaul mindset in the organisations. It is, therefore, necessary to consider educating senior management and other employees that would be involved in PMO. Organisations should also consider taking the overhaul on a step-by-basis rather than running from old to new. Though individual organisations would apply different measures in their process of attaining efficient PMO frameworks, there are several aspects of PMO organisations that should produce best practices. Some of the most efficient PMO procedures are explained below:
PMO’s focuses on both the long-run benefits of the department and the project at hand. This is contrary to functional management that focuses on just completing the project at hand. Since employees’ are more focused on the long run benefit that their department will have on the company and future projects, they are able to make short term sacrifices. This aspect makes PMO one of the best management systems in the ICT industry. This is because the sector is usually capital intensive, and thus requires heavy investment at the initial stages (World Bank, 2002a). In that sense, companies and governments have to makes sacrifices on spending on some other amenities in order to achieve higher technological capabilities.
For a government that is less endowed with monetary resources, such as those in Africa, spending more on ICT would mean cutting spending on desperately needed social services such as healthcare for malaria-infected patients; primary education for millions of school-aged kids that have to stay at home; shelter for millions living in shanty houses: or even water services in arid areas (Economic and Social Council 2006). However, considering the long-run benefits of ICT to these populations would definitely make governments and their foreign donors understand that the price to be paid would be minuscule (Umble et al. 2003), because the population’s lives would e be greatly improved when ICT projects start to deliver. On considering such striking benefits of ICT, PMO helps stakeholders to plan on ways that will minimize the short-run effects on ICT spending compared to most important social services. This could include employing a member of the communities that could be affected most by ICT investment. Indeed ensuring that the poor take part in the investment process would make them feel like being part of the process and thus increases their chances to accept any short term pains that would affect them (World Bank 2002b).
Budget & Funding
ICT companies in collaboration with regional and national governments should consider drawing budgets for all projects despite their size. These budgets are supposed to cover all aspects of the projects such as the planning, execution and whether organisations can fund from internal sources or has to get funds from outside sources. The labour force in PMO should be involved in the budget preparation process because they are specialists in various aspects of the project at hand, which means they are the ones best placed at making decisions regarding cots of materials to be needed. When budget proposals from all the working groups in a PMO are done, the senior management should consider forming a committee that would be tasked with combining the budget, which will be sent to the financiers. Depending on the ICT organization’s monetary controls, budgets developed by PMO should be approved by the necessary authority and funds provided accordingly.
The budgeting process does not end the withdrawal of this important document. Indeed, budgeting must continue until the end of the project. The task force committee on budgets should ensure looking into whether budgetary allocations were being followed by all working groups. This is the best point to understand whether the allocations were enough, too little, or was too high; necessary measures should be undertaken depending on the findings. Members of working subgroups should also ensure to report to their superiors when more funding is needed for specific items that could not have been planned in the budget. Also at the departmental level, the task force on budgetary affairs should ensure to estimate monetary, tangible and intangible benefits that the said organization in the long run. This helps in determining the long-run effect of the budgetary allocations in the company. In that regard, ICT organizations are able to understand the pay-back time for the projects they engage in. In non-profit settings, management and other stakeholders gain an understanding of the impact of their ICT investments in future contributions, as well as the financial wellness of their organization.
The development of PMO organisational structure depends on the skills that are needed and depends on the needs of ICT organisations. Since PMO departments are meant to be permanent in ICT organisations, some members of its staff are also permanent and others are hired depending on the king of projects being undertaken. It is therefore important to understand which positions need to be filled on a permanent basis and which ones need to be filled when there was a project going on. This also helps in assigning duties to every member of staff. When this is done, members of staff with similar lines of responsibilities are able to form working groups that will ensure that their sub-projects are finished on time. Providing detailed roles and responsibilities to each member of PMO staff and ensuring the development of working groups has the advantage of establishing two organisational cultures (task personal) that help organisations achieve goals.
This form of culture develops when individuals work in groups to complete assigned tasks. This is an important form because it enhances teamwork within the organisation and thus improves employees’ efficiency. It has a higher propensity of improving creativity within the team and the organisation because members are supposed to make important contributions during discussions Task culture can be used to increase productivity in the organisation by dividing group tasks according to team members’ skill and experience. Such arrangements increase the speed at which projects are accomplished; also the quality of the job done by each team member and the group as a whole.
This form of culture is the one that allows individuals in any organisation the liberty to express themselves fully. It also has a higher propensity for productivity and creativity because employees will most likely undertake the assigned projects through the most efficient means they know-how. It could be used together with Task Culture, especially when teams assign duties to each member. Such a combination will bring forth employees who work effectively within a team and efficiently with minimal supervision, which are both qualities of a dream employee. By exercising Person Culture, company employees are able to make their own decisions which will leave the management making the most important decisions regarding the organisation—both of which will result in higher productivity.
PMO helps organisations adhere to national and international standards that lead to high-quality services. ICT organisations would therefore benefit from the improvement of standards that would accrue from using the system. Apart from just relying on the standards set by the government, organisations that use PMO have the advantage of developing their own systems. In the development of internal quality frameworks, ICT organisations should always consider the involvement of all the employees in the groups. Each working group should develop a quality framework for the segment their project segment; these segments are the ones to be developed into organisational qualities that would provide excellent identities for company products. ICT companies should ensure the hunting of local and international recognition for their products.
It has to be understood that having their products being recognised by industrial groups would increase the market value for the relevant company. Getting international recognition for having best practices in the industry is of great benefit to ICT organisations. This is because people would be more aware of the specific ICT company worldwide and thus increase the chances of accessing those markets. One example of an international recognition would include the International Organization Standardization, which recognizes high-quality processes that ensure long term consumer satisfaction (ISO, 2008). Achieving this recognition does not come easy for companies; they have to labour hard because all processes, minor and major, are all inspected for a certain period of time. This means improving not for the short-term but for the long run company development. The end results would thus involve a total overhaul of company activities; they have to reflect the best international standards in the industry. We have to remember that this is not a big price to pay for the greater customer satisfaction and market recognition that the company will benefit from.
Risk assessment refers to the process of evaluating the threats that could occur in an organization. Taking such measures enables organizations to understand any harm that could dawn on assets and employees. Owing to different kinds of threats that could affect different organizations operating in a variety of industries, it is important for each institution to consider the environment it operates in before deciding the most befitting risk assessment. Indeed, some industries, like in IT, have developed procedures that enable players to understand the threats that could occur and thus develop effective measures to contain any damage to an organization’s assets as well as a labour force. Since the employees in PMOs are specialists in various fields of the project being undertaken, ICT companies should consider involving them in brainstorming on the risk factors that could face certain projects.
Providing employees with the opportunity to explain the risks that could come with certain projects is a good way of developing answers. This is because employees who understand risks are the same ones that would provide the answers to those risks. In case it happens that no internal solutions could be found, companies could therefore seek help from outside sources. In addition, ICT companies could consider employing internal specialists that would be dealing with risk solutions—they would be a great investment for the company in the long run. Apart from PMO employees, other members of the ICT labour force should be trained on ways of dealing with the risks that could develop on the projects being implemented. This is one of the surest ways that organizations can increase the help they could get when disaster strikes because members of the labour force know what is expected of them. In fact, educating them on ways of protecting themselves and organisational property from risks would greatly reduce chances of danger, and thus precede efficient risk-free protection and work environments.
Dependency in PMO refers to the relationship between the project being undertaken, existing frameworks and any forthcoming technologies. This is not news to ICT professionals; they understand that their industry is nothing but the integration of different techo0nologies. Their work is to therefore ensure efficient interconnections between several technologies. In that sense, PMO helps the professionals to learn and understand how the technology to be used in their project will affect the existing technologies and how efficient relationships would be developed. It is at this point that troubleshooting between several systems is done and solutions provided forthwith. Failure to provide solutions leads to top the compounding of the interconnection problems that could develop when the project is done.
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PMO also helps ICT organisations identify other technologies that could be used together with the ones being developed by the company. When this happens, several ICT organisations could end up joining hands and providing one strong project that would solve various problems simultaneously. In some situations, well-established ICT companies could consider merging or buying smaller firms in an attempt to create synergy. This helps PMOs to start preparing for future projects early enough, which is the first step to providing efficient services. The specialist in PMO is also able to learn more about other projects in the organisation that could depend on the technology that is being developed. As a result, ICT organisations end up saving time in the development of new technologies.
Communication and Project Reporting
Apart from playing the role of developing new projects on behalf of their organisations, PMOs play the important role of keeping all stakeholders (management, shareholders, the public, suppliers and authorities) informed. In informing the management regarding the project at hand, it becomes possible for company leaders to incorporate project progress in their strategic plans. This helps in the long run planning for other projects that have to be undertaken in the department. In addition, the management is able to communicate to another important stakeholders in the company such as bankers and insurers among others. When members of the public are part of the stakeholders’ team, PMOs are tasked with the responsibility of informing them about the on-goings with the project. This role should be played with the utmost care when a member of the public is concerned. For instance, delays on projects should be handled through decent customer service people. PMOs are also responsible for keeping suppliers to the projects well fed with information regarding projects. This is achieved through descent maintenance of inventories and proper communication to the members of the supplying group.
Apart from maintaining communication with the stakeholders in the company, PMOs should also ensure proper communication with other players in the industry. This is an important factor in the organisation because it provides organisations with opportunities to form working relationships with competitors. Collaboration among industry players benefits the public as well as collaborating organisations. In order to ensure that the cooperation in these organisations delivers the desired fruits within the industry, it is important that individual companies develop teams for that purpose. For instance, there should be a team of employees that is responsible for the communication between PMO and the rest of the company. These groups should arrange for a regular meeting with senior management regarding progress in projects. The management will also get the chance to ask specific questions regarding the projects, such as the estimated completion date or whether there are more needs in the department. The other communication group that deals with players in the industry should also consider undertaking regular meetings with competitors regarding the specific issues in the industry. This group should take the chance to learn what other companies are working on, which will enable individual companies to place themselves against the competition, as well as see how collaboration could be achieved. Both teams should brief the rest of their PMO members regarding discussions with senior management and competitors.
Development of Organisational Culture
Such smooth production processes are therefore capable of fast implementation of projects such as new products and services, or when undertaking structural change within the organisation. All that the organisation requires is for employees to start to operate organisational systems that will provide good results. Innovation will also be possible because of the task and person cultures that are instituted with the organisation’s overall cultures. This will make the employees cooperate with each other in crucial times of innovation. Since organisation culture teaches employees the needs of customers, they are able to take care of production processes when some of them have moved on to other careers or are not present. Thus the organisation’s activities will never be affected by the unexpected shortage of labour.
Organisational culture further helps in attaining higher levels of organisational effectiveness, especially in the non-profit sector (Willcoxson & Millett 2000), because all the stakeholders are well aware of what the organisation they are dealing with, that is, the organisation’s demands of them. Suppliers will for instance understand that untimely delivery is against their clients’ culture and thus ensure that goods are delivered on time. Employees will also understand that dedication in their duties is a key component of their employer’s culture and should thus do their best in helping achieve the goal of satisfying clients and with quality products, failure of which could mean the end of their careers with the said organisation.
Organisational culture further helps employees of a profit-oriented company to get connected to their employer’s goals, mission, values and mission. This is aided by the repeated choruses of company culture by the management, board of directors as well as long-serving employees. It could also be achieved through a way of displaying company culture all over their premises, on strategic areas or on miniature items. Such ease of helping employees get connected to the company’s goal should always be the dream of all managers of all firms because it will translate to higher productivity at all among company employees (Khan 2005). Since culture will enable employees to be aware of their employers’ expectations, it shall be possible for them to remind each other of what they are supposed to be doing in order to help the company reach its goals, all of which will be done through the company’s culture system. This will be enabled by the fact that all employees’ goals would have been aligned (Sorensen 2002) with those of the company, which will make them talk to each other when they see any behaviour that is not consistent with what is held commonly with other stakeholders. This will make management’s activities easier because monitoring employees will be minimal.
It shall be easy for stakeholders to share issues regarding the company because of the culture that is cultivated. This open communication between parties makes them aware of the goings in the organisation. Problems within the organisation are thus easily detected. Rectifications are therefore done before things get out of hand. As a result of the increased openness employees can easily air their concerns regarding certain processes, and actions are taken on time, which would lead to greater job satisfaction on their part and greater productivity for the firm, because of the resulting efficiencies (Chow, Harrison, McKinnon & Wu 2001). Employees’ satisfaction with their occupations will however leave them with self-inquiry questions, such as what can I do to serve this organisation better. The self-evaluation will most likely lead to answers directly related to increased productivity, which would lead to more sales and revenue for the firm. Further attention to employee needs by senior management will keep this cycle going round and round for long durations of time—something that will keep company sales rising compared to the competition. Such a scenario goes hand in hand with Devis (2007) claim that successful organisational culture provides enabling environments for employees to evaluate the impact of their conduct or their employers’ goals.
Other than increasing employee job satisfaction and general productivity of an organisation, organisational culture can be used to improve on other areas of employees’ lives that do not really to on the company activities or goals abut are essential on the general welfare of employees. For instance, Erickson (2000) notes that companies should include safety in their cultures because it would lead to a situation where employees are concerned with risk issues, and thus ensure they wear protective gear and that tools are working well. This benefits both the organisation and employees; the organisation will escape insurance expenses and employees will be safe at all times.
Employees of the firms exercising organisational culture become part and parcel of their employer; they take pride as part owners of the culture since they were involved during the development and implementations stages. This result in a highly motivated employment force that helps the organisation reaches goals and lives by its mission and values. Indeed Dai (2002) observes that successful organisation culture helps the practising organisation attract, retain, engage, synergize, energize, talents as well as changing view of work, and creating a sense of success in the entire team that ranges from senior management to the newest employee. Such a team is the heart of every successful organisation no matter its industry or size.
The job satisfaction experienced by members of staff act as a magnet that draws new employees into the company. This is a good thing for the organisation practising culture because it shall be able to filter potential employees and thus get the most qualified and skilled employees, whereas the competition gets the rest. When the new members of staff get on board, they are welcomed by their colleagues and taught how to uphold the organisation’s culture as they are now part of the winning team. Researchers have actually found that new employees of organisations practising organisational culture portrayed high levels of adaptability and involvement with company activities (Christensen & Gordon 1999), which enables them to make quicker contributions to their new employer’s activities.
Organisational culture comes in handy when there is a major transition in management. Whether the new employees are source within the organisation or from outside, systems that have been made possible by culture will aid them well. The main force for this success will come from the existing labour force. Their understanding of company processes will be used to advise the new management where necessary. Besides, the new management will not have to manage the affairs of company employees, because they already know what is expected of them. This new management will therefore focus efforts on getting oriented to the company and starting with their normal activities.
In the case of recently privatised state-owned enterprises, organisational culture helps management and employees to change from their old ways of performing activities to new ways that are competitive in their markets. Failure to do this leads to uncompetitiveness, which will lead the company to be edged from the market by other market players. Organisational culture is very important in these organisational because some of them could already be serving large markets, which they never afforded to service well due to inefficiencies. Developing competitive organisational culture makes it possible for the former civil servants to start having their clients in mind, which will increase productivity. It is therefore important for the formerly state-owned firms to consider developing cultures that will help them establish themselves within the market.
Other than its importance in privatisation programs, organisational culture also helps employees during mergers and acquisitions. Employees of the merging companies could undergo some tough times when their employers are forming one single entity. The merging companies also have to merge their organisational cultures so as to make one that befits their new company. As it happens, employees who have had experience working in companies with organisational cultures have an easy time coping with the changes. Indeed, the change from culture to culture or working in the same culture under different leadership will happen naturally to them. They will also be useful in teaching other employees ways to practice their company’s culture efficiently.
Organisational culture helps employees to understand organisations and vital processes. This makes them valuable employees who keep increasing value to the company. Their continued stay means vibrant company growth that will be there for a long time because the tradition of culture will keep flowing from one generation of the workforce to the other. The management will have an easy time training new employees because the culture that has been cultivated for a long time will perform that role efficiently. As a result, each employee that joins the workforce takes little time to be of value to the company, which rapidly increases his/her productivity to the benefit of his team and the company.
Organisational cultures make it easy for potential employees to choose the company they would like to work with, that is, the company whose culture could easily be aligned with personal goals. When the employees finally identify the company and join its workforce, it becomes easier for them to conform to the inside culture, because they had a clue of how it works. In addition, help from their peers will be beneficial and encouraging, because the old employees will find it easy to teach culture to their new counterparts. The quick learning exemplified by the new employees creates rapport with the old ones; this results in good working relationships that will enhance employees’ experience in the company.
New employees’ experience with the company helps them adapt quickly, as well as learning all the necessary processes required in their respective lines of work. The quick learning of processes and commitment to their works attract the attention of the management who could respond by encouraging employees to keep up their efforts, as well as asking the employees what could be done to increase their efficiency. The management could further respond by providing incentives that would make employees work extra hard. Such recognition helps employees to quickly climb through the organisational ladder, which encourages their colleagues to start to follow that hard work example.
The task cultures in organisations help employees to discover their strengths and those of their group mates. The creation of efficient working groups helps in increasing the productivity of different working teams in the company. Employees also enjoy working in successful groups. This enriches their experience within the company, which increase the chances of staying with the organisation for a long period of time. Such a cycle is a boon to the company because the productivity of employees will be directly collated with their experience. The team culture also helps in sharpening the person culture, especially when individuals are assigned specific tasks within their teams. This expansion of individual culture serves employees well because they are able to cultivate their best areas of performance. In other words, they are able to enhance their comparative advantage against fellow teammates. This is good for the team because members will be competing against each other. This intra-group competition brings the best out of their work. Productivity of the group is enhanced and leads to better company performance. Organisations should thus establish task cultures, which will foster the presence of individual culture. This will lead to a spiral of productivity from the individual, to the team and finally to the entire organisation.
Works in teams further create an efficient feedback system between employees working in a team, which is also extended to the management through regular reports from group leaders. First, team-mates in a group are able to tell each other of their strengths attaining organisational goals. This makes it possible to engage in constructive criticism, which will spark discussions on how to best practice organisational culture and ensure that such practices contribute to the organisation’ productivity. Continuation of such practices leads to a situation where individual organisation establishes smooth feedback the helps employees improve their performance by adhering to the laid down rules and procedures, which make it possible to attain goals.
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