History and Processes of Project Management

History of Project Management

According to (Kwak, 2003), project management has been used for thousand years since the Greek and Egyptian times. Even though it has been used for such a long period of time, companies have just started using it in the last 50–60 years. In the 1960s and 1970s project management was mainly used by construction and large engineering companies. In the 1980s it was adopted mostly by software development companies and in the 1990s project management was widely known as the mandatory technique for a success.

So how Project management was evolved? As it is shown in Figure 1 below there was a great influence from Puritans (Whitty & Schulz, 2007). Puritans by default believed that the world operates in a form of chaos and that there is a need for borderline restructuring.

Going back to the evolution of project management we see that there are four main periods as shown below, starting from the Egyptian times to present modern project management techniques.

The first documented project management appliance was introduced in the beginning of 19th century until 1950s. As technology evolved project’s life time was shortened, automobile evolution allowed resource allocation and embraced mobility along with telecommunications industry that increased the speed of communication. That was the time that Henry Gantt invented the Gantt chart ( a chart in which a series of horizontal lines shows the amount of work done or production completed in certain periods of time in relation to the amount planned for those periods).

Henry Gantt was an American mechanical engineer and management consultant who worked on major projects like the Hoover Dam and the Interstate highway system. Gantt chart was invented in the 1910s and was the basis for developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). During the 1st period, especially for the Hoover Dam project, project management showed its power as it needed to plan, control and coordinate six independent companies “the big six” in the middle of the desert. This project had a budget of 172 million dollars, employed around 5200 employees and consumed big construction resources like concrete and steel components (Bureau of Reclamation).

The project was delivered in budget, in scope and on time (Moore 1999) and it still remains one of the highest gravity dams in the U.S. generating more than four billion KW over a year.

In the 2nd period 1958–1979 technology really evolved. The development of the first computers and first silicon microchips made their appearance. That was the time where the ancestor of Internet was created and NASA’s Apollo project was launched. In that period major tools for project management including CPM/PERT, planning (MRP) and others were introduced.

During the 3rd period between the 80s and early 90s there was literally a revolution in the information technology and information systems (IT/IS) sector. People were moved from mainframe computers to personal computers.

The project management tools on mainframes were very difficult to use and when these tools became available in personal computers project management techniques were easily accessible.

Some brilliant examples of that time were the English-French channel (1989–1991), the Challenger project (1983–1986) and the XV Calgary Winter Olympic games at 1988.

The English –French channel was a good example of program management, trying to cope between different cultures languages and skills. On the other way the Challenger project was a complete disaster and that was a shock to the project management society. New aspects and knowledge areas in project management were introduced, like risk management, quality management and group dynamics.

In current period mid 90s and after, with the rise of the internet, the project management community, adapted this technology to be more efficient in controlling and managing the projects. While time passed project management techniques were adopted even by the most traditional businesses.

Currently project management works as a memory for future projects and constantly evolve.

The Five Processes of Modern Project Management

The five processes of project management according to Project Management Book of Knowledge, (PMBOK) 5th edition.

These processes are discrete elements but in the real life these processes overlap with each other as shown in figure below.

Most of the processes are repeated during project’s life-cycle and especially monitoring & controlling processes are working in the background orchestrating other processes.

All processes produce outputs that become input for other processes or result as a deliverable of the project or project phase. These processes interact with each other as shown below.

Initiating

On a project the 1st process is the “Initiating Process” or project definition. In this process the project manager confirms the scope of the project and the objectives along with the sponsor and the stakeholders (internal or external), identifies the benefits and evaluate any possible risks that may arise. This is the moment where the budget is decided and announced to the sponsor and the project charter with the stakeholders register is created.

Project’s purpose is aligned with the stakeholder’s expectations. By involving the sponsor, the customer and the stakeholder in the process a common understanding is created.

This is the phase that will decide whether a project should start or not.

Of course initiating processes can apply in other levels like program or portfolio in order to document high level requirements. In projectized matrices the project manager assign resources to project activities.

Planning

The second process “Planning” describes these processes that include the total scope of the effort, analyze and define project objectives and create the course of action that are required in order to fulfill these objectives.

Planning is the most crucial point on a project. According to the complexity of the project analysis should be done again and again in order to gather information and totally include all aspects of the scope, time, cost, quality, communications, human resources, risks, procurement, and stakeholder engagement. During execution if anything changes the planning phase should be revisited and re aligned.

Any change after this process could have a great impact on the time, cost, and scope of the project or even fail the project.

Opinions from all stakeholders should be taken under consideration. A detailed planning process can eliminate risks and make the project to a success.

Executing

The executing process includes all processes needed to complete the work for the project as described in the planning process. During project execution it may require to have additional changes in the planning process. Such changes may rise change requests that will change even the budget, the scope or the time of the project.

Project execution is the most expensive part of the project.

Monitoring & Controlling

Monitoring & controlling process are working most like as background processes facilitating planning and executing.

All processes that are required to track, review and orchestrate the progress and performance of the project are included in monitoring & controlling process.

The important thing in this process is that project is monitored and controlled continuously and in regular intervals in order to correct any anomalies or detect them before they are problematic.

So this process prevents and cures errors, monitoring the project influencing environmental factors to align with the project.

In order to reduce control overhead other techniques may be introduced like exception management.

Closing Process

So you finally are here, congratulations. In this process we include all other processes performed to conclude and finalize the project. When this process is completed then formally the project has finished and delivered. This is the time of the project where the customer or the sponsor formally close the project and accept the deliverables.

A thorough documentation is done to include all lessons learned from this project. Do the aftermath review in post project costs & time. All documents are archived for future use and all procurement activities ensure the termination of other active agreements. Finally project team members are assessed and resources are released.

Conclusion

It has been concluded that project management has of very much importance for the organization’s success and growth.

Organizations that do not implement the practices of project management will suffer a lot in terms of resources, time and money.

In such a competitive world, organizations have to do anything to reduce their costs and resources on any given task. Project management is one of the tools from which one organization could use its resources efficiently and minimize costs. It has very tangible and intangible benefits, therefore every organization have to think about it and implement it.

References

Jonathan Whitty, S., & Frederick Schulz, M. (2007). The impact of Puritan ideology
on aspects of project management. International Journal of Project Management,25, 10–20–10–20. Retrieved from http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:11452/sjw_mfs_ijpm_07.pdf

HOON KWAK, Y. (2003). BRIEF HISTORY OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT.
Retrieved from http://home.gwu.edu/~kwak/PM_History.pdf

Bureau of Reclamation (1985) Retrieved from
http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/NaturalFlow/documentation.html

Moore, David (1999) “THE HOOVER DAM: A WORLD RENOWNED
CONCRETE MONUMENT” Retrieved from http://www.romanconcrete.com/HooverDam.htm

Project Management Institute (2013), A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge — Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc.

Brennan, Maribeth, PERT and CPM: a selected bibliography, Monticello, Ill., Council of Planning Librarians, 1968. p. 1.

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