The History of Project Management: Predictions for the Future
Change is the essence of project management.
It is all part of the job: scope changes, personnel and budget changes.
The best project managers are able to keep up with change throughout their careers.
Despite all the benefits of certifications and education, there is no substitute for hands-on project management experience.
We decided to put out a call to veteran project managers asking them their thoughts on the changes in project management over the past few decades. This included things like remote teams, Agile movement, and the evolution in PM software tools. And what changes they expect to see in the future. The majority of respondents have more than a decade of experience in managing formal projects.
The history of project management throughout the ages
Although you could argue that project management concepts were used in the construction of ancient wonders such as the Egyptian Pyramids or the Great Wall of China the modern concept of project management began to emerge in the early 1900s with Gantt charts.
Project management began to emerge in the 1950s with the introduction of the critical path method (CPM), Lockheed’s revolutionary Polaris missile project and the U.S. Navy’s development of the program evaluation-review technique (PERT).
Project management was heavily based on Waterfall techniques in the 1960s. This was enough to get men on the moon safely and return them safely.
The world has become more complex and project management techniques have evolved to adapt to that complexity over time.
1. The Agile revolution?
When asked about the changes in project management over the past 30 years, most project managers will answer with Agile methodology.
Crystal Richards, principal of Mosaic Resource Group, stated that “the more complex projects have become, there is a greater need to be flexible with project management activities.” “With Agile, changes can be welcomed within the framework of a vision or roadmap (i.e. scope).”
Others suggest that Agile methodology has been used to manage projects since before it was known.
“Agile is currently changing the face of software development, but its roots and practices date back over 30 years,” stated Alan Zucker, founder principal of Project Management Essentials, LLC.
W. Edward Deming’s PDSA cycle (Plan-Do–Study-Act), dates back to the 1950s.
Chuck Cobb, a 15-year veteran in project management and author of “The project manager’s guide to mastering agile,” believes that the fundamental approach to project managing has not changed much since the space race.
He said that while the way we do project managing has become more sophisticated, it allows us to manage larger projects with more predictable results. However, this is still based on a plan-driven approach to project administration.
What has changed is how we define roles in project management.
Are you interested in agile project management tools? Capterra’s directory offers many options to help you get started. Project manager is now a well-recognized position
Zucker, Project Management Essentials, recalls his beginnings in project management. This had very little to do if he was ever designated as a project manager.
1987 was the year I began my career in project management. I was the product owner, business analyst, and project manager.
Zucker points out that project manager is still not a career path.
1987 saw the emergence of ‘project managers’, but they did not have the same systematized processes, procedures, or tools we have today. Many of us were self-taught and have since lost our way.