By Beki Grant and Kymberly Kelly (UoPhx 2009)
“Project management provides people with a powerful set of tools that improves their ability to plan, implement, and manage activities to accomplish specific organizational objectives” (Gray and Larson, 2006, p. 3). Throughout history, project management played an important role from the pyramids of Egypt to present day. This paper discusses the changes and evolution of project management and the changes project management may encounter.
Project management predates the building of the pyramids. Like the Red Pyramid of Dashur, The Great Pyramid of Giza is not a unique structure even though it may be on a grander scale (Coppens, 2007). The Egyptians intricately built the Great Pyramid using the most modern methods of the times with great precision and detail. Looking at the building of the Great Pyramid through a project management perspective one can see many obstacles that probably caused great effort to overcome. Coppens (2007) states that the workforce was the most obvious problem, followed by the engineering plans, and then the originality of the King’s chambers that was built with granite. Granite was difficult to mine, requiring an hour to cut only one inch. King’s chamber was built using with granite that was mined over 400 miles away (Coppens, 2007).
The Great Pyramid took roughly 20 years to complete and employed 10,000 people, because these employees had to bring families with them. The women kept the base camp running by cooking for the men and the children (Coppens, 2007).
The outside of the pyramid made with limestone and gypsum was easier to mold than the granite. Using primitive tools of copper, the men cut huge blocks of stone then hauled them around the inclines built for pushing and dragging the blocks into place. Coppens (2007) raises a valid point that whatever building materials needed to make the Great Pyramid, such as the sloping inclines, had to also be dismantled when complete.
Fast-forwarding a few centuries brings the world to a new place where fortified castles are the norm. Chillingham Castle in North Umberland, United Kingdom brought about a new era for project managers. Project managers were simply construction workers with an idea of how to build a fortified stronghold against enemy advances. Chillingham Castle was first a stronghold during the 12th century and became an actual castle in 1344 (Chillingham Castle, 2008). The castle remained unchanged since the addition to make the building a fortified, medieval castle. Chillingham was a strategic stronghold on the border between England and Scotland and saw many bloody battles (Chillingham Castle, 2008).
The project manager in the medieval times who designed castles had to know how to fortifiy strongholds. Angela Doland (2006), traveled to France to see new construction of a modern day European castle using medieval construction practices. Doland (2006) stated that her tour showed exactly how small architectural elements deterred invaders. Staircases winding clockwise would force a sword-wielding assailant to use his left hand, thereby making him awkward and clumsy. In the same realm, at the top of stairs, a low hanging door would force the aggressor to duck his head. This allowed the defender of the castle to swing his own sword downward onto the back of the neck, cutting off the invader’s head (Doland, 2006). Large steps on staircases would force the attacker to take off chain male and armor, or seriously slow the attacker down making him vulnerable to the protector of the stronghold (Doland, 2006).
In the 19th century, the architects and construction workers separatated Architects developed building designs and sometimes oversaw the building of the project. Building design during this time was considered an art and most of the builders were lowly construction workers. The the functionality of the building became important during the industrial revolution. Factories and workers needed big spaces for goods and machinery.
Walker (2007) writes about the distinctions and separations, which arose during that time in the construction world. Architects and builders, and architects and engineers, or surveyors, had a rift that banned everyone from working together as a unit through various guilds and organizations. Walker (2007) continues by stating that the lack of organization through the giant rift did not help to stimulate the economy for building projects. During this time, though technology was progressing tremendously, the tools to complete projects remained fairly the same (Ill Institute for Research, 2000). The realization of the need for someone to organize and take charge of the projects began and took the form of a master builder. The master builder became the overseer of the project yet still helped to build (Ill Institute for Research, 2000). The Ill Institute for Research (2000) also states that the master builders, or early project managers, could read and write, do arithmetic and were forerunners of a new era that now incorporates business, finance, and managerial skills.
Taylor and Gantt
The 20th century saw enormous changes in project management. Frederick Taylor (the Father of Industrial Engineering) and Henry Gantt played an important role in the study of projects. Taylor used the reasoning of breaking down the elements of a process to improve productivity by eliminating extra movement within tasks. Before the process, productivity came from the workers working longer hours. Gantt, on the other hand, created a technique (Gantt chart) of outlining the sequence and duration of tasks (Kozak-Holland, 2008). Project managers still use the proven Gantt chart in modern project management, and many project-management software packages use the Gantt chart.
Mass Production and Human Relations
The second industrial revolution introduced electricity and combustion engines that brought about new technologies such as electrical devices that helped with mass production. During the First World War the ability to mass-produce became more important and drove an acceleration in planning and supplying due to the mass production, transportation, and the movement of armies as never before (Kozak-Holland, 2008). After the First World War, new human relations developed in the work arena between employee and employer.
Project engineers developed or adapted coordination techniques that gave the project managers more control over the progress of the projects. However, the project management techniques did not attempt to dictate technological methods to specialized experts. (Kozak-Holland, 2008, para. 17).
The Empire State Building Project
The Empire State Building is a testament of precise project management in the early 20th century. Due to a competition between General Motors’ executive John J. Raskob and Walter Chrysler to construct the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building became a wonder of construction project management. Starrett Brothers and Eken were the general contractors and started with no equipment for the job. Instead, they designed and purchased custom equipment needed due to the massive scope of the project. Once the project was completed, they sold the equipment and credited the investors (Construction Company.com, 2009).
Starrett Brothers and Eken created a tight schedule that included 60 different types of trade people. They ordered supplies to specifications and made them at the plants. The contractors hired dependable companies to provide quality and adhere to the schedule. Tasks were scheduled to the minute and some tasks overlapped so as not to waste time. Overlapping of tasks became the first commercial construction project to use the fast-track technique, which consisted of starting construction before designs were completed. In January 1930, excavation of the new building started before the demolition of the current building was complete (Construction Company.com, 2009).
In March 1930, the contractors began construction on the steel frame. The contractors built four and a half stores a week by using innovations that saved time and resources. Some people believe that the steel posts arrived with markings of their place in the framework and the number of the derrick that would put the steel in place (Construction Company.com, 2009).
On April 11, 1931, construction was complete. The project took 3,500 men and seven million hours. The Empire State Building completed ahead of schedule by three months and under budget by $18.3 million (Construction Company.com, 2009).
Modern Project Management
The third industrial revolution introduced computers, the Internet, and management practices. The 1950s witnessed the development of the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), which gave greater control to project managers. In 1955, the US military invented PERT to determine the time it takes to complete a task and identify the minimum time it takes to complete a project. In 1957, the DuPont Corporation created CPM to handle various tasks and interactions of a project by incorporating algorithms to set project activities. The US Defense also introduced project tools such as the work breakdown structure that organizes the scope of a project by grouping the project’s work elements (Construction Company.com, 2009).
In the 1970s, project management became widely used. The Project Management Institute (PMI) was created to focus on project techniques, and the introduction of Time, Cost, and Quality and how they tie together to determine the expected value of the project output (Construction Company.com, 2009). The 1980s saw the incorporation of risk management to project management, which helps determine the risk associated with the project. Total Quality Management also introduced at this time, is a business management strategy to incorporate quality within processes (Wikipedia, 2009). PMI also publishes a project management guide called the PM Book of Knowledge. The 1990s introduced certifications of project management and focused on managing networks of projects and business benefits (Construction Company.com, 2009).
The future of project management will see changes. One area of concern is risk management and the need of insurance to cover the risks encountered. More than ever, companies must protect themselves from the risk of delayed productions and unforeseen accidents. New lines of risk management insurance such as the General Contractor’s Pollution Legal Liability have increased over the last decade. Developing new insurance products may increase to handle future liability exposures. Risk management controls can help project a positive perception by carrying insurance at acceptable levels, and developing procedures to address scheduling, safety, and quality for each project (XL Capital Ltd, 2009).
Another change in project management may be with the instruction of project management. New innovative techniques have gained popularity. One new technique is the 4D virtual construction technology, which allows the user to use 3D graphic models in a time-lapsed sequence of events, virtually allowing a project to grow without physically building the project (Park and Meier, 2007). The 4D virtual construction technology does have some drawbacks and maybe the future can remedy the drawbacks or progress the idea to improved techniques.
Project management has a long history and created amazing projects. From the great pyramids to modern buildings, project management continually improved and created new techniques. The last few decades introduced new ways of approaching project management and the future will bring about new ways of thinking.
Chillingham Castle. (2008). The Castle. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from www.chillinghamcastle.co.uk.
Construction Company.com. (2009). Historic construction company projects – Empire State Building. Retrieved January 22, 2009, fromhttp://www.constructioncompany.com/historic-construction-projects/empire-state-building/.
Coppens, P. (2007). The New Pyramid Age: Worldwide Discoveries of New Pyramids Challenge Our Thinking. O Books.
Dolan, A. (2006). Craftsmen Build a Medieval-style Castle. MSNBC. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from www.msnbc.com.
Gray, C. F., & Larson, E. W. (2006). Project management: The managerial process (3rd ed.). [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text] New York: McGraw Hill.
Ill Institute for Research. (2000). Your Career in Construction Management. Institute for Career Research.
Kozak-Holland, M. (2008). History of project management. Retrieved January 22, 2009, from http://www.lessons-from-history.com/Level%202/History_of_PM_page.html.
Park, B., & Meier, R. (2007). Reality-based construction project management: A constraint-based 4d simulation environment. Journal of Industrial Technology, 23(1), 2-11. Retrieved January 22, 2009, from http://www.nait.org/jit/Articles/park010407.pdf.
Walker, A. (2007). Project Management in Construction. Blackwell Publishing.
Wikipedia. (2009). Total quality management. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Quality_Management.
XL Capital Ltd. (2009). Building into the 21st century: Emerging professional liability in construction. Retrieved February 1, 2009, fromhttp://www.xlenvironmental.com/library/cpe.htm.
- Training and Facilitation
- The Seven Attributes of Excellent Management
- Storms of Chaos and Strategy
- The Drivers of Change
- Systems Thinking/Engineering
- Change Management