A brief history of Project Management – Part 2

Part 2 of this series…

Continued from Part 1….(Part 1 can be found at http://colossalthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/a-brief-history-of-project-management-part-1/)

b) From 15th century up to mid 20th century (Project Managers were possibly called as “Projectors” during the early stages – not evidenced though)

Radical changes in Project management approach and execution fueled by the industrial revolution and advances in management science – primarily introduction of formal techniques and methods (like PERT, Critical Path Method, Harmonogram, Gantt chart, WBS etc) helped define and encourage a scientific / statistical approach to Project Management.

“ The most important of the changes that brought about the Industrial Revolution were (1) the invention of machines to do the work of hand tools; (2) the use of steam, and later of other kinds of power, in place of the muscles of human beings and of animals; and (3) the adoption of the factory system” (courtesy: http://history-world.org/Industrial%20Intro.htm )

Imagine, what this would have offered to the PM population:-

i) reduction in effort needed to produce a certain “output”
ii) reduction in time needed to produce a certain “output”
iii) enforce newer ways of optimizing end to end “delivery” (aka production / factory mindset)

No wonder then, that these factors more than helped influence the next set of key thought processes / approaches outlined below in the subsequent years. Also, the very fact that lot of manual intensive “labour” was cut down due to such advances, meant that Newton also got his time to take a nap and come back with his 3 laws 🙂

=> Interesting tidbits

#1: Karol Adamiecki developed his theory of Work harmonization (and introduced a graphical form of analysis called the “harmonogram”), probably the very first version of the Gantt chart. The impact of this was such that in various industries across engineering, mechanical, chemical, mining etc, the introduction of harmonograms led to an output increase between 100 and 400% (courtesy: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/255537?uid=3738256&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21103285535157)

 #2: “Daniel Defoe published: An essay upon projects in 1697i which discusses projects from the year 1680 onwards (but also recognises there were earlier projects). The essay discusses the Projectors (in today’s language entrepreneurs) responsible for raising funds for their pet projects, often in less than flattering terms, the role of banks and finance. However, whilst Defoe discusses project finances, and in some cases labour requirements, he does not mention time or the management of the work of the ‘projects’” (courtesy: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_PM.pdf)

 #3: By the end of the 1950s the idea of appointing a ‘project manager’ either as an individual or as an organisation to take full and undivided responsibility for achieving the project objectives had arrived and was starting to spread (courtesy: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_PM.pdf)

Apart from Project Managers being called “Projectors” (refer above); following were some of the key innovations during this period:

Gantt chart – By Henry Gatt in 1912, though some attribute the origin of this to the development of the Harmonogram by Karol Adamiecki. Today, this is unarguably the heart and soul of any project management methodology.

Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM) – Methodology developed by the US Navy in the 1958 – Its like conceptualizing a graphical way of depicting the path of most resistance in a Project and being able to worry about it, that’s what PERT is all about. PERT talks about optimistic, pessimistic and most likely schedule of delivering a project, while CPM focuses on the critical path mainly.

Iron Triangle – by Dr Martin Barnes (UK) in 1969 – this was probably the most significant development in the history of PM, laying down the ground rule (till date) of what governs (Constraints) any project – around Time, Cost and Scope (Quality).

#4: “Dr Martin Barnes (UK) first described the ‘iron triangle’ of time, cost and output (the correct scope at the correct quality) in a course he developed in 1969 called “Time and Money in Contract Control’”; interestingly, even then the course was not entitled ‘project control” (courtesy: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_PM.pdf)

Waterfall Model – 1970 by Winston W Royce – this was another legacy carried over from the manufacturing and industry era (when no other methodologies existed) and it was costly to change understanding somewhere down the “line”.  What this helped was to define a framework for executing projects and evoke thought process around alternate methodologies as well!

Lastly, the birth of institutes like IPMA and PMI, for development and promotion of Project Management as a discipline / profession in 1965, kind of sealed the fate for us lesser mortals that there will need to be greater focus on passed down legacy (pun intended). The last stage of development in this era was the growing understanding that this field needs to be treated seriously, and a lot more focus, study and investment to be made to ensure that we can bind some organization into a rather unpredictable ecosystem.

Coming up next – Part 3 and last part on history of Project Management, beyond 1970


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