Chapter 1 – Introduction to Project Management for Human Resources

1.3. In-depth Look: History and Evolution of Project Management

In-depth Look

Early Days

Between the 1900s and the 1950s, the contemporary Project Management paradigm emerged. The project timeframe was shortened, at this time, due to technological advancements. Automobiles made resource allocation and movement more efficient. Communication sped up thanks to telecommunication technology. The job description was extensively utilized, and Henry Gantt is credited with inventing the Gantt chart that is an element of Project Management. The task specification was eventually used to create the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) (Kwak, 2003).

Hoover Dam (1931 – 1936) Example

Utah Construction, Pacific Bridge, H.J. Kaiser, W.A MacDonald and Kahn, Morrison-Knudsen, and J. H. Shea established a partnership to operate as general contractors when Congress enacted the Boulder Canyon Act in 1928, allocating $175 million to the Hoover Dam. Because the project encompassed six different organizations, it was critical for the companies to establish a clear project plan. The building location was in the middle of nowhere, with no access to water or electricity. Boulder City was built to house 5,200 people and a considerable amount of construction equipment. The project was successfully completed on time and under budget. The Hoover dam project, which generates more than four billion kilowatt-hours per year, is still one of the highest gravity dams in the United States (Kwak, 2003).

1956: The American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International) Formed

Early practitioners of Project Management and the associated specialties of planning and scheduling, cost estimating, and cost and schedule control formed the AACE in 1956. It has remained the leading professional society for cost estimators, cost engineers, schedulers, project managers and project control specialists since. AACE continued its pioneering work in 2006, releasing the first integrated process for portfolio, programme, and Project Management with their Total Cost Management Framework (Haughey, 2021).

1957: The Critical Path Method (CPM) Invented by the Dupont Corporation

Developed by Dupont, CPM is a technique used to predict project duration by analyzing which sequence of activities has the least amount of scheduling flexibility. Dupont designed it to address the complex process of shutting down chemical plants for maintenance, and then with the maintenance completed, restarting them. The technique was so successful it saved the corporation $1 million in the first year of its implementation (Haughey, 2021).

1958: The Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) Invented for the U.S. Navy’s Polaris Project

During the Cold War, the United States Department of Defense’s US Navy Special Projects Office developed PERT as part of the Polaris mobile submarine-launched ballistic missile project. PERT is a method for analyzing the tasks involved in completing a project, especially the time needed to complete each task and identifying the minimum time required to complete the total project  (Haughey, 2021).

1958: The Apollo Project

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958. NASA successfully conducted six lunar exploration missions between 1969 and 1972. NASA established the Apollo programme office in 1960 to monitor and schedule Apollo flights using PERT, acquire and contract with suppliers like GE, construct a management system to assess performance, and establish a focal point for the Apollo programme (Kwak, 2003).

1962: United States Department of Defense Mandate and the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Approach

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) created the WBS concept as part of the Polaris mobile submarine-launched ballistic missile project. After completing the project, the DOD published the work breakdown structure it used and mandated following this procedure in future projects of this scope and size. WBS is an exhaustive, hierarchical tree structure of deliverables and tasks that need to be performed to complete a project. Later adopted by the private sector, the WBS remains one of the most common and valuable Project Management tools (Haughey, 2021).

1965: The International Project Management Association (IPMA) Founded

IPMA was the world’s first Project Management association, started in Vienna by a group as a forum for project managers to network and share information. Registered in Switzerland, the association is a federation of about 50 national and internationally oriented Project Management associations. Its vision is to promote Project Management and to lead the development of the profession. Since 1965, IPMA has grown and spread worldwide, with over 120,000 members in 2012 (Haughey, 2021).

1986: The Challenger Accident at NASA (PPMI was founded)

The Challenger accident that happened in NASA was a “watershed” event and a great deal went into understanding what had gone wrong. That is when NASA moved from learning on-the-job to professional training approaches where it introduced PPMI – Program and Project Management Institute which is now called as Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership (APPEL) (Hoffman, 2008).

1980s: Rise of Computers, Software and Project Management

In the history of Project Management, the emergence of the computer had a significant influence. In the 1980s, computers pushed connection and communication to the centre of Project Management. As technology advanced in the 1990s, dial-up Internet access became more commonly available. Some Project Management organizations developed Project Management systems, although the new era of computers and Project Management did not begin until the late nineteenth century (Somerville, n.d.).

1998-2000: The Iridium Project

Iridium, Motorola’s $5 billion global communication project, promised to deliver global communication service practically everywhere, at any time. The Iridium network was launched in November 1998 and began providing worldwide network services. Iridium went bankrupt in March 2000, and its services were terminated. The project was originally regarded as a technical achievement, but it came to an abrupt and inexplicable end. Full-time project control managers were hired, and software engineers and analysts were transferred to the programme office. In addition, the project control managers used Primavera Project Planner, a sophisticated project management software, to manage complicated and interrelated project schedules (Kwak, 2003).

2000-present: The Y2K Project and Today

The Year 2000 (Y2K) “Millennium Bug “was a possible issue of computers failing to work properly on January 1, 2000. In February 1998, USA, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13073. The directive was issued to provide a consolidated focal point for all Y2K operations to be monitored. The Y2K project had a clear goal and a tight timeline (on January 1st, 2000, at midnight). Almost every organisation in the world that used computers was involved in the initiative, which was undertaken internationally and independently. To address the difficulties of the computer era, various techniques and technologies were developed (Kwak, 2003).

Many firms adopted Project Management principles, tools, and methodologies because of the Y2K crisis. Many businesses established a project office to keep track of and comply with its stakeholders. The Y2K office served as a focal point for all project activities, and its functions were prominently displayed (Kwak, 2003).

Today, organizations are highly competitive, and they operate in constant change. Organizational accountability demands effectiveness and efficiency. Companies rely on Project Management to advance the management and focus of their operations to get the results of effectiveness and efficiency.  It helps organizations meet goals, and provide confidence to stakeholders that all resources are being managed responsibly. Following Project Management methods and techniques according to Azzopardi (2022), improves productivity by 20-30 percent, clarifies the project scope, objectives and scope, identifies needed resources, and guarantees accountability of results and performance, and helps the project team focus on success.

Class of 2022 contribution:  Mariefer Atienza, Keziah Butal, Nagambika Kumar, Teajuk Seok, Jan Villaruz