History of Project Management | By Carol Meyer | Read time minutes
Could the Crusades have been launched and the soldiers armed and fed without effective project management? Could the Great Wall have been built with ingenious natural materials and a team of millions over a span of a thousand years without project management? It is possible to say that the concept of project management has been around since the beginning of history. It has enabled leaders to plan bold and massive projects and manage funding, materials and labour within a designated time frame. What leaders from the distant past managed to accomplish is amazing and without the project management tools available today.
During the industrial revolution business and industry grew and expanded rapidly across continents. With the coming of automation, everything was done on a larger scale. The ability to manage projects in the way of budgets, supplies and labour at various or secondary locations was crucial and motivated the investigation of new ideas to streamline methods.
The Father of Scientific Management
In America in the early 1900s a pioneering scientist named Frederick Taylor tested his theories on worker productivity by creating a methodology for the measuring and performance of certain tasks by workers in steel mills. He was interested in discovering new and better ways for workers to perform a job rather that by simply insisting that they work harder and longer. Taylor died in Philadelphia and the inscription on his tomb stone assures his place in history, "the father of scientific management."
Taylor's friend, Henry Gantt was the first to design charts and diagrams to document and measure the processes involved in Navy ship building during WWI. By charting and analysing each step in the ship building process he was able to see the big picture and extract information about the relationships between functions. The Gantt chart became an important tool for project management and has been used for the last 100 years.
In the 1950s when the U.S. government discovered that the Russians were developing missile technology it became crucial that the "missile gap" be filled. Since the safety of the nation was at stake, the U.S. Navy wanted to build a system of their own immediately. To manage the building program Willard Fazar's PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) was used. PERT uses critical path methodology to control projects that involve massive tasks and logistics. PERT is still the standard for all Navy projects today.
Tools for Project Management
Project management in its present state is a highly structured process. It involves initiating, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and completing a plan or project as specified. It involves expertise in estimating costs and resources, procurement of resources and supplies, organising teams and work loads, directing and assigning roles, status reporting to upper management, risk assessment, time management and communication at all levels.
The expansion of businesses worldwide has helped fuel the need for better project management tools. New and more sophisticated tools to accomplish complicated project management functions have come on the market in the form of web based project management software.
Because it is web based this type of software allows teams to communicate in real-time in the office or off-site, virtually from anywhere in the world. Many programs have feature rich options and are customisable and flexible enough to meet sophisticated project management requirements.
Project management software is probably the single most important tool a project manager will use to keep the project on track and on time.
Project Insight is a mid-range web based project management software solution. It can be customised to customer specifications and will integrate with MS Project. It is the only mid-market web based project management solution approved by Microsoft.
Recommended read: A Brief History of Project Management by Duncan Haughey.