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Microsoft Project and the Project Management Domain

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This chapter provides the context for the use of Microsoft Project within the domain of project management. It identifies accepted standards and methodologies that are in use within the field and provides some examples of how they are used with Project.
This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • History of Project Management 70
  • Exploring Project Management Industry Standards 71
  • WBS, Phases and Control Points, Methodologies, and Life Cycles 76
  • Using Microsoft Project with Methodologies and Life Cycles 78
  • Accommodating Teaming Styles 82
  • Consultant's Tips 82

History of Project Management

When Patrick Henry said, "I know of no way of judging the future but by the past," he could have been talking about project management. When faced with projects that have never been done before, all project managers can do is look at what has come before them.

While project management has been practiced for thousands of years, evidenced by the Egyptian and Roman dynasties, modern project management can be traced back to the late nineteenth century and the rise in large-scale government projects and growing technological advancements. Fredrick Taylor, the Father of Scientific Management, applied scientific reasoning to analyzing and improving labor, and Henry Gantt studied management of Navy ship construction during World War I. Gantt's use of charts, task bars, and milestone markers is still practiced today, and they bear his name. One of the major projects that brought detailed project planning, controlling, and coordination to the forefront was the Hoover Dam project, which involved $175 million dollars, six different companies, a major worksite with no existing infrastructure, and approximately 5,200 workers. The project was brought in under budget and ahead of schedule.

After developments in project management during two World Wars and the growing Cold War, major changes to project management were brought about with the launch of Sputnik. Fearful that the United States was falling behind in the race to space, the USA introduced several major programs to focus on science and exploration. Several agencies, including the Advanced Research Project Agency, a high-level research and development program that later became DARPA and NASA were founded. These agencies led the way in the development of project management.

Two other major developments for project management to grow out of this period were the Critical Path Method (CPM) and the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). CPM was devised by Du Pont and Remington Ran for use with the UNIVAC-1 computer mainframe. PERT was invented by the Program Evaluation Branch of the Special Projects office of the U.S. Navy, for use with the POLARIS missile program, and was also used on the Apollo program for NASA. CPM/PERT gave managers more control over extremely large and complex projects, but could only be calculated within large mainframe computer systems and were used mainly for government sector projects.

With the computer revolution of the 1980s and the move from mainframe computers to personal computers with the ability to multitask, project management software became more accessible to other companies. The Internet and networked systems only made project managers more efficient at controlling and managing the different aspects of their projects. More information on previously completed projects is available today than ever before, making the project manager's job of estimating the future by looking at the past easier than ever.

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