The Emergence of Project Management

Distinctive factors that stand out in the emergence of project management, include:

• Demonstration of effectiveness through such noteworthy initiatives as the Manhattan Project and the Polaris Submarine Project.

• Development of specialized techniques for scheduling project activities such as PERT, CPM, and cost-schedule control systems.

• An early definition of a project as “any undertaking that has definite, final objectives representing specified values to be used in the satisfaction of some need or desire.” (Ralph Currier Davis, The Fundamentals of Top Management, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1951, p. 268.)

• The emergence of concepts which support the growing field of project management to include:

• A distinct life cycle

• Cost considerations

• Schedule factors

• A technical performance capability

• An assessment of the operational or strategic fit of the project results into the project owner’s organization.

Some of the unique characteristics of project management coming forth in its evolution include:

• Projects are ad hoc endeavors that have a defined life cycle.

• Projects are building blocks in the design and execution of organizational strategies.

• Projects are the leading edge of new and improved organizational products, services, and organizational processes.

• Projects provide a philosophy and strategy for the management of change in the organization.

• The management of projects entails the crossing of functional and organizational boundaries.

• The management of a project requires that an inter-functional and inter-organizational focal point be established in the organization.

• The traditional management functions of planning, organizing, motivation, directing, and control are carried out in the management of projects.

• Both leadership and managerial capabilities are required for the successful completion of a project.

• The principal outcomes of a project are the accomplishment of technical performance, cost, and schedule objectives.

Projects are terminated upon successful completion of the cost, schedule, and technical performance objectives—or earlier in their life cycle when the project results no longer promise to have an operational or strategic fit in the organization’s future.

Authority-Responsibility. In 1967, Cleland, writing in Business Horizons magazine, described the difference between de facto (earned) authority, and de jure (legal) authority.

De jure, or legal authority, comes from the organizational position that an individual holds and is reflected in project documentation such as a letter of appointment, position descriptions, policy documents, and related documentation.

De facto authority is that which comes from the individual’s knowledge, expertise, interpersonal skills, experience, and demonstrated experience to work with people.

A Project Management System. In 1977, Cleland published a short article in the Project Management Quarterly which described a project management system (PMS). This system is described in Sec. 7 of this Handbook.

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