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Virtual Organizations and Project Management

(UN Geneva - Alvin Wei-Cheng Wong)


What is a Virtual Organization?


- New Forms of Organizing

The distributed and pervasive nature of the Internet, and the ease with which institutions can now communicate across great distances, have made new forms of organizing possible for institutions. These various forms of organizing have attractive benefits for institutions, including cost savings and increased flexibility.

As institutions have taken advantage of these new technologies to distribute their work and workers, and to re-shape information flows in the pursuit of mission, strategy, and business objectives, they have moved towards being virtual organizations.

A virtual organization can bring together, often temporarily, independent entities in partnering or outsourcing arrangements, enabling them to share expertise, resources, and cost savings until objectives are met and the network is dissolved.

Virtual organizations are virtual not only in the sense that they exist largely in cyberspace, but also in that they are unconstrained by the traditional barriers of time and place.

The ultimate goal of the virtual organization is to provide innovative, high-quality products or services instantaneously in response to customer demands.


- Definitions

There are many definitions of virtual organizations, including:

  • A flexible networks of independent, globally distributed entities (companies, institutions and/or individuals closely linked to advanced telecommunications and computing technologies) that share skills, knowledge, resources and work toward a common goal.
  • A form of cooperation involving companies, institutions and/or individuals delivering a product or service on the basis of a common business understanding. The units participate in the collaboration and present themselves as a unified organization.
  • Virtual organizations do not need to have all of the people, or sometimes any of the people, in one place to deliver their service. The organization exists but you cannot see it. It is a network, not an office.
  • A temporary network of inde-pendent linking by Integrated Technology to share skills, costs, and access to one another’s markets.
  • A virtual organization is any organization with non-co-located organization entities and resources, necessitating the use of virtual space of inte-raction between the people in these entities to achieve organization objectives.


Project Management 


- Definition

Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve goals and meet success criteria at a specified time. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, budget. The secondary challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives. 

The objective of project management is to produce a complete project which complies with the client's objectives. In many cases the objective of project management is also to shape or reform the client's brief to feasibly address the client's objectives. Once the client's objectives are clearly established they should influence all decisions made by other people involved in the project – for example project managers, designers, contractors and sub-contractors. Ill-defined or too tightly prescribed project management objectives are detrimental to decision making. 

A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service, or result with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or staffing) undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of such distinct production approaches requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies.


- Virtual Project Teams and Project Management

The rise of the Internet and development of collaborative software have instilled a new dimension into project management. Virtual project teams are those where at least one member of the team is remote from the others. Due to a combination of globalisation, outsourcing, the use of the most talented people wherever they are based, flexible working, and more, virtual projects are on the rise. Today's project manager needs to be able to deliver projects virtually.

The EITA accomplishes project success through teams led by project managers.



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