Project management history


Until 1900, civil engineering projects were generally managed by creative architects, engineers, and master builders themselves, for example Vitruvius (first century BC), Christopher Wren (1632–1723), Thomas Telford(1757–1834) and Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859). It was in the 1950s that organizations started to systematically apply project management tools and techniques to complex engineering projects.

Henry Gantt (1861–1919), the father of planning and control techniques

As a discipline, project management developed from several fields of application including civil construction, engineering, and heavy defense activity.Two forefathers of project management are Henry Gantt, called the father of planning and control techniques,who is famous for his use of the Gantt chart as a project management tool (alternatively Harmonogram first proposed by Karol Adamiecki); and Henri Fayol for his creation of the five management functions that form the foundation of the body of knowledge associated with project and program management. Both Gantt and Fayol were students of Frederick Winslow Taylor's theories of scientific management. His work is the forerunner to modern project management tools including work breakdown structure (WBS) and resource allocation.

The 1950s marked the beginning of the modern project management era where core engineering fields come together to work as one. Project management became recognized as a distinct discipline arising from the management discipline with engineering model. In the United States, prior to the 1950s, projects were managed on an ad-hoc basis, using mostly Gantt charts and informal techniques and tools. At that time, two mathematical project-scheduling models were developed. The "Critical Path Method" (CPM) was developed as a joint venture between DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation for managing plant maintenance projects. And the "Program Evaluation and Review Technique" or PERT, was developed by Booz Allen Hamilton as part of the United States Navy's (in conjunction with the Lockheed Corporation) Polaris missile submarine program;

PERT and CPM are very similar in their approach but still present some differences. CPM is used for projects that assume deterministic activity times; the times at which each activity will be carried out are known. PERT, on the other hand, allows for stochastic activity times; the times at which each activity will be carried out are uncertain or varied. Because of this core difference, CPM and PERT are used in different contexts. These mathematical techniques quickly spread into many private enterprises.

PERT network chart for a seven-month project with five milestones

At the same time, as project-scheduling models were being developed, technology for project cost estimating, cost management, and engineering economics was evolving, with pioneering work by Hans Lang and others. In 1956, the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International; the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering) was formed by early practitioners of project management and the associated specialties of planning and scheduling, cost estimating, and cost/schedule control (project control). AACE continued its pioneering work and in 2006 released the first integrated process for portfolio, program and project management (Total Cost ManagementFramework).

The International Project Management Association (IPMA) was founded in Europe in 1967, as a federation of several national project management associations. IPMA maintains its federal structure today and now includes member associations on every continent except Antarctica. IPMA offers a Four Level Certification program based on the IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB).The ICB covers technical, contextual, and behavioral competencies.

In 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed in the USA. PMI publishes A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), which describes project management practices that are common to "most projects, most of the time." PMI also offers multiple certifications.

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 © 2001 - 2020 Grigoriy Sokolov.

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