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Project Management The Teenage Years

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 7th January 2010

As we enter the Teens (if that’s what this decade is called), what will future hold for project management?
A little look at history might help predict the trends of the future, but what do you think?
50’s Conception
The 1950 were the start of project management with the application of Taylor’s scientific management to the management of projects. Project management was based on the marriage of the Henry Gantt’s time based chart and Fayol’s five principles of management planning organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. These principles still form the foundation of our modern bodies of knowledge.
60’s Learning to Walk
The value of project management was demonstrated on major projects. Many of these projects have attained mythical status in project management including the Polaris missile programme, b DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation development of the critical path (I bet they wish they had patented to method). The decade finished with the formation of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in 1967, the PMI in 1969, forerunner of the APM, called Internet (another good name) in 1972.
70’s Slow Growth of Early Adopters.
Project Management saw slow growth in recognition during the 1970, along with the birth of IT systems, Apollo space programme project management and the application of project management to the development of cold war defence systems. The membership of the APM reached 1000 by the end of the decade.
80’s Gantt chart for the masses and a decade of unconscious incompetence.
The development of microcomputers in the 1980 saw the explosion of the project management for all, with its ubiquitous symbols the Gantt chart. Some adventurous people even implemented earned value management. During the 1980 every organisation and government department had its own approach to project management, with the expected chaos.
90’s Codification and certification.
1989 saw the launch of PRINCE (followed by PRINCE2 in 1996) following the PMI PMP certification launched in 1984. The 1980 became the decade of codification, standardisation and with growing acceptance that a common approach to project management was beneficial.
Noughties the decade of certification, globalisation and information overload and the credit crunch.
For project management the Noughties as were decade of globalisation for project management with the connectivity of the internet leading to teams outsourced across the world, increasing recognition for project management certification across the globe be it PRINCE2 or the PMI’s PMP. Towards the end of the decade management in general including project management discovered the Blackberry and all of a sudden we struggled with information overload. What had been manageable communications channels became frenetic with ongoing 24 hour activity to suit the new global projects.
What will be the project management trends in the teens?
They say the past is no predictor of the future but what will the up and coming trends for the teens. Will

  1. The fallout from the credit crunch and severely reduced public spending lead to a sever reduction in the demand for project management and a decade of cost cutting and cancelled projects?
  2. Will the increasing pressure change lead to an increasing demand for truly professional project managers, maybe (or maybe not) linked to chartered status?
  3. Will pressure for consistency continue with consolidation between the different methodologies (PRINCE2, APM, PMP)?
  4. Will new social media tools such as Google wave help us organise the mass of information generated by project using meta tags and search tool in the same way Google Search Engine made sense of the web.
  5. Or all of the above
  6. Expect the unexpected.

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