Project management is a term recognized by many, but where did it get started, anyway? The specific discipline of project management began in the 20th century, but project management has existed since the beginning of time. From the great pyramids of Egypt to modern maritime warfare maneuvers, the history of project management extends further than you might think.
Early Project Management
A project, by definition, is something carried out once to accomplish a particular task in a specific period of time. One of the first examples of a project is the Giza Pyramid. Archaeologists believe that the Egyptians used highly-developed project management tools and concepts to achieve this success. Evidence has revealed that the pyramids were built perfectly level and square by a primarily untrained workforce of 100,000 who used stones quarried by hand. Project management techniques were used throughout history to build great temples and cathedrals, launch armies, cross oceans, and build the Great Wall of China.
The Origins of Modern Day Project Management
The specific discipline of project management began taking form in the 1940’s through processes developed during World War II to move large amounts of equipment and soldiers in short periods of time. Frederick Taylor’s research into scientific management and Henry Gantt’s study of the order of operations in work helped businesses and organization s to better understand the importance of efficiency in the work place. Henry Gantt, the father of planning and control techniques, is famous for his use of the Gantt chart as a project management tool. The Gantt chart allows project managers to outline the amount of time needed on a project. For example, if you are breaking a large project up into individual tasks, the Gantt chart can help you determine how long each individual task should take, and in turn, how long the project should take overall. Using a Gantt chart helps project managers in planning and scheduling projects, but it also helps in monitoring the progress of a larger project.
The United States Navy also had a major impact on the modern development and growth of project management. They developed the PERT tool (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) to schedule and organize their Polaris missile submarine program. The technique used numbered rectangles to indicate specific tasks, and directional arrows to outline the intended sequence of those tasks. It seems almost rudimentary to describe, but brilliance often is, quite obvious. The Critical Path Method (CPM) is very similar to the PERT tool and was developed around the same time by a non-military group.
Validation and Certification
The field of project management was officially established and validated in 1969 with the creation of the Project Management Institute. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers comprehensive certification programs for project practitioners of all education and skill levels. PMI certifications remain the global standard today and give practitioners a technical and financial edge.
If you’re reading this article and thinking these systematic approaches to large projects are nothing new, then you’re absolutely right. These organized ways of approaching the scheduling and planning of large projects began long before we started assigning fancy names like “Gantt” and “PERT” to these methods. But thankfully, from the work of Taylor, Gantt, and others, these processes have become fine-tuned, and best practices have been established. By utilizing these tools, you can increase the success of your projects and ensure that you are working more efficiently, and not just harder.
If you want to learn how to be more efficient and productive at your job, call us at (800) 460-2575 or check out our course catalog. We offer short-course vocational classes that aim to ensure your success.