History of Project Management: How Did We Get Here?

Project management in its present form began to take root a few decades ago. In the early 1960s, industrial and business organizations began to understand the benefits of organizing work around projects. Leadership understood the critical need to communicate and integrate work across multiple departments and professions. That was how the project management really took off.

Management principles began to evolve more efficiently beginning in the late nineteenth century, due in large part to the increasing complexity of the business world. In particular, large-scale government projects dominated decision-making, and became known as management decisions. Such endeavors involved thousands of workers and vast bulk quantities of materials, machinery, and equipment.

Business organizations wanted to apply some powerful techniques so that the labor, material, and machinery were effectively used to give maximum results. In early 20th century, Frederick Taylor analyzed work patterns and behavior and found out that better methods can increase the productivity considerably. This type of analysis is now known as time and motion study. Time and motion can suggest better methods to reduce labor and material costs. Taylor was dubbed the "father of scientific management".

Henry Gantt first introduced the world to his Gantt charts in the 1920's. After intensive study of the work process and its organization, he developed the chart which was later named after him. These charts followed the progress of work in large projects, showing time schedules along with dependencies between tasks. This allowed completion of projects to become easier. In effect, the charts have been used since their introduction.

Evolution of management into a distinctive business study dates back to the period of Taylor Gantt and many others. They revolutionized this concept into a study and discipline subject. Later came the different topics such as marketing approaches, industrial psychology, and human relations that became the backbone of business management. PERT charts and Critical Paths Methods were introduced in the mid 20's. After understanding the benefits of this subject, military and many other organizations started to adopt these techniques and they continue to apply them to this day. Today, unlike days past, business can be viewed more as a human organism and less as a machine. Thus, it is implied that for the business to remain "healthy" and prosper, all parts of the whole, need work together toward the same specific goals or projects. Modern interpretations of this general concept prevail in almost all types of business today. Generally, the goal, or project, is managed by the "project manager". The project manager is really more of a project leader. Their responsibilities are to efficiently assemble and organize a productive team, delegate tasks, manage a budget and ultimately, to optimally complete the project within budget and on time.



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