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Book Review: The Project Management Office Toolkit
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Book Review: The Project Management Office Toolkit by Jolyon E. Hallows

The Project Management Office Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up A Project Management Office

Written by: Jolyon E. Hallows. New York: American Management Association, 2002. 259+xx pages. US$99.00.
Reviewed by: Gerald Mulenburg

The Project Management Office Toolkit

This is a how-to book that describes in detail everything you will need, and want to know, about setting up a project management office. The author's reason for creating the book is that, “There is an emerging awareness that project management must be controlled at the level of organizations, not individuals.” (Page 2). Clearly written, a major strength of the book lies in its approach for tailoring the path to a project management office for any size or sophistication of organization in its use of project management. The author clearly states that, “A project office does not need to be constructed as a complete entity in one massive upheaval; it can evolve gradually.” (Page 3) This book will be most useful to persons or teams charged with setting up a project management office who wish to use a detailed process that provides the means to address the entire range of issues involved. Although the author states that the book is, “…concerned with the management of information systems (IS) or information technology (IT) projects…” (Page 6), it will be a useful guide in setting up a project management office in any type of project setting.

Several quotes will help the prospective reader get a feel for the author's overall approach:

“This book is not about how to manage projects, it is about how to manage project managers.” (Page 5).

“The goal of a Project Office is not to establish controls for the sake of controls, but to help project managers and project teams deliver value.” (Page 3).

“When projects fail, the reasons are usually interpersonal rather than technical.” (Page 33).

“The purpose of a plan is to identify when each activity should start and end, not how it should be conducted.” (Page 126).

As the title indicates, the book provides step-by-step guidance through the use of a large number of checklists and templates that the reader fills in to aid in determining what is needed for a specific organization or situation. The book is actually a three-ring binder of loose sheets that makes it easy to remove pages for copying the templates and tables. However, due to the heavy paper used throughout, if not treated very gently the pages tend to tear out at the ring holes from just turning the pages. An included CD contains all of the templates and checklists, and the project office setup files described or displayed in the book, for printing from a computer.

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