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Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Colorful, Challenging History of Project Management

How in the world will the Pyramids of Giza, or the Great Wall of China, be built, without project management? According to the dictionary, project management is defined as “the use of specific skills, knowledge, tools and techniques for delivering something of value to people”. Examples of these include the construction of a house or building, the expansion of a product or service to new geographic markets, the relief work in the aftermath of a natural disaster and more. Here’s a peek at the colorful and challenging history of project management.

The Building & Completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza

If you’re currently using the latest project management software, like that of the oracle primavera, perhaps you should thank the ancient Egyptians for helping pave the way towards effective project. Yeah, just look at one of the finest examples of project management, which is the building and completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza!

According to ancient records, in 2750 BC the project’s managers were responsible for the planning, coordination and completion of this humungous monument to the pharaohs.   In that sense alone, there was indeed some form of planning, implementation, coordination and control that was involved in completing this historic project.

The Great Wall of China

The building of China’s Great Wall in 208 BC can also be considered as one of history’s most shining examples of managing projects. Since the reign of the Qin Dynasty, construction of the Great Wall had been a very challenging task.

Based on historical accounts, the dynasty’s labor force was actually made up of soldiers, common people and even hardened criminals. The emperor in fact ordered millions of his subjects to complete this project, but it was managed by managers, foremen and structural engineers.

Henry Gantt

One of the first fathers of project management came into the picture in 1917, by the name of Henry Gantt.  Gantt created what was called a scheduling diagram called the Gantt Chart, which at that time was considered a very radical tool. Eventually, it became known all over the world in the 1920s. 

The construction of the Hoover Dam in 1931 was actually among the very first beneficiaries of the Gantt Chart. Until today, Gantt Charts are being used in construction projects of various scopes and sizes, and is very much an integral component of the project manager’s toolkit. In fact, one project I talked to, who says he uses the oracle primavera project management software, Gantt charts still remain an integral tool when planning, implementing and completing projects.

The American Association of Cost Engineers

In 1956, project management practitioners of this time formed the American Association of Cost Engineers. The group also involved those who were working in associated fields like planning and scheduling, as well as cost and schedule, and cost estimating.

Now, the organization is known as AACE International, and has become the most prestigious professional society for project managers, project control specialists, schedulers, cost estimators and cost engineers.

The Critical Path Method

In 1957, a company called Dupont Corporation developed the CPM, or the Critical Path Method, which is used for estimating project duration and was designed to address the complicated method of shutting down, as well as restarting, chemicals plants and factories due to maintenance issues.

In 1958, the US Navy Special Projects Office designed PERT, or Program Evaluation Review Technique, which was made for the Cold War. The PERT was used for analyzing the various tasks that were involved in completing a project, especially the time needed to complete each task, as well as identify the minimum time needed to complete the total project.

Work Breakdown Structure

In 1962, another major milestone in project management emerged, as the United States Department of Defense creates, and later mandated, the WORK Breakdown Structure (WBS). 

The Work Breakdown Structure as eventually adopted by private enterprises and business, and it still remains as a very common project management tool up to today. In fact, if you’re using software like the oracle primavera, you’ll find that the software actually supports WBS!

The International Project Management Association

In 1964, the world’s first project management association was created, and it was called the International Project Management Association.  The organization was founded in Vienna, Austria, and at present it has 120,000 members all over the planet. 

Five years later, the Project Management Institute was launched as a nonprofit professional organization for the advancement of the profession, science and practice of project management.

The Eighties and Nineties

The frenetic pace of the evolution and progress of computer technology eventually paved the way for the hypersonic growth of project management, with the development of lots of software and tools like Oracle (1977), Artemis (1977), and Scitor Corporation (1979).

The modern history of project management also took flight in the 80s and 90s, especially when the sectors of information management grew in leaps and bounds. The advent of personal computers and networking facilities led to the development of low-cost PCs which can multitask, as well as efficiently manage even the most complicated project schedules.

A few of the various examples of truly large projects that were done during the fast-paced growth of information technology include the England-France Channel Project, as well as the Space Shuttle Challenger project.

The rise of the Internet also led to the explosion of more radical project management tools and techniques, especially in the mid-1990s. The Internet has allowed people, most especially project managers, planners, schedulers and construction personnel to quickly browse, track and buy products and services which resulted in making companies and project teams more efficient, productive and client-oriented. This also led to the rise in popularity of truly innovative project management software like the oracle primavera, which is a true multi-user system with detailed permissions structures, and can be used on multiple devices like tablets and mobiles, allowing users to access their project information anytime, anywhere!

Jack henry
Jack henry
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