A project is best described as an endeavor which is finite, one which is carried out so that either a product or service can be created. The reason why a project is described as being finite is because it differs from a process or permanent system, in which the goal is to repeatedly create a product for extended periods of time. The management for both is quite different.
What is Project Management?
Project management is the field that involves the planning and handling of resources that allows a team to successfully complete a project, reaching the goals and objectives which have been set within it. To understand project management, it is first necessary to develop an understanding of projects.
Because managing a project is quite different from functional work which is permanent, this means that an entirely different philosophical approach must be used when handling it. The skills which are necessary to do this are what is necessary to work in the project management field.
Of all the goals which project management attempts to achieve, the most important is the ability to gain all the project objectives and the goals, while making sure one honors the constraints of the project as the same time. There are three main constraints that any project will face, and these are scope, budget, and time.
Another tough challenge that comes with project management is the ability to make sure the inputs are optimized properly, while maintaining those objectives which have been pre-defined. Overall, the project is a collection of activities, that make use of many resources, most of which are materials, people, energy, and money, for the purpose of reaching goals which are very specific.
While each project will have different goals, the resources which are used to obtain these goals are largely the same. While project management today is used in a number of different fields, historically, it was most associated with engineering, defense, and construction.
A Brief History of Project Management
Henry Gantt is generally considered to be one of the leading founders of project management. He is known for his introduction of control techniques, and the word Gantt chart is taken from his last name, and is today used has a fundamental project management tool. He is also known for the amount of work he put into scientific management, and he was involved in the construction of a ship for the Navy.
The many methods and techniques that Gantt used are considered to be the forerunner of modern tools like the WBS. Most historians agree that the modern age for project management started during the 1950s.
Prior to this time, projects were carried out on an ad hoc basis, and the techniques which were used were mostly formal. There were two popular mathematical tools that were used during this time as well, and these are the PERT, or Program Evaluation and Review Technique, and the Critical Path Method.
The former was used for the development of the Polaris missile for Lockheed Corporation. Due to the success of these techniques, it wasn’t long before they spread to other industries and companies. In addition to this, the technology involved for things such as cost estimates continued to evolve.
Project Management Approach
By 1956, organizations such as the AACE, or American Association of Cost Engineers, was created for the purpose of working with not only project management, but many disciplines which were associated with it, and some of these things include cost estimates, the planning of schedules, and project control.
Over the decades, the AACE has continued its revolutionary work, and has continued to make rapid advances in the project management industry. In 1969, the PMI, or Project Management Institute, was created so that it could best serve the interests of this industry.
There are a number of approaches which are taken when it comes to project management. Some of these approaches include the critical chain project management, extreme project management, and the traditional approach.
Each project management approach has its advantages and disadvantages. No matter what approach is used for project management, it is always important to consider the needs which are important for the clarification of the project goals, and the responsibilities of everyone involved, including the stakeholders.