Project managers are dynamic, assertive people who understand the combined art of tight deadlines and budgets. They know how to manage resources, maintain schedules, and coordinate different activities and tasks, including optimization. Project management may sound like a relatively new approach, but it’s been around for thousands of years. It was even involved in the planning, coordination, and construction of the Great Pyramids!
A Brief History of Project Management
Of course, today’s project management has grown to include sectors such as energy that our early ancestors never imagined. Here’s how it’s changed over the centuries and what it is trending toward today:
- Ancient Times through 18th Century: This was the time of the seven wonders, Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” and the building of various structures in permanent settlements, all complex projects in their own way.
- 19th Century: Real growth occurred in the 19th century, with numerous railways and manufacturing processes demanding more modern project management tactics. The Transcontinental Railroad is considered the first large-scale project management endeavor.
- 1900 to 1949: Henry Gantt, the founder of modern project management and creator of the Gantt Chart, developed planning and control techniques in the early 1900s. The charts showed the phases of a project, from inception to completion, and the early ones were meticulously completed by hand.
- 1950 to 1980s: Post WWII, project management began to follow two mathematical processes. Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)) was used to evaluate individual tasks by claiming a minimum amount of time to completion. The Critical Path Method, or CPM, was developed for projects made up of individual activities that were interconnected. It wasn’t long before CPM became too confusing and fell out of favor.
- 1980 to 2000: Enter the computer, which brought connectivity and communication to project management. As technology exploded in the 1990s, the internet became more widely available and project management systems were developed. It wasn’t until the end of the century, though, that the marriage of computers and project management as we know it today truly began.
Project Management Today
Today’s project management casts a wide net and is relied upon to help increase profits, boost ROI, have a positive impact on productivity, and mitigate risk. A project manager must possess a diverse skill set that includes leadership capabilities and strategic management skills, including:
- Proficiency with the technical aspects of a project, including scope, risk and schedule management, data gathering, and life cycle management.
- Strong leadership skills that allow them to manage teams around the globe: conflict management, problem-solving, team building, and innovating ideas that save an organization time and resources.
- Adeptness in managing several projects at once and the ability to quickly react to the ever-changing needs within their industry.
The project management landscape will continue to change as we enter the new year. Look for extreme mobility to take on greater importance, and for robust, cloud-based solutions to become the standard. Organizations that offer cross-platform integration with increased visibility will stand out. The bottom line? To beat the competition, companies