Monday, 9 February 2009

The Evolution of the Project Manager

I have just been watching the David Attenborough programme about Charles Darwin , celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species . The description of the process of natural selection started me thinking about how project managers have evolved over the last few decades – as we adapt to our environment we shed certain characteristics and gain new ones.

PRINCE2® Timeline

15 years ago, project management was seen as a specialism, using planning and estimating skills including earned value analysis, use of critical path analysis (worked out on pieces of paper using mathematical calculations). 10 years ago, the use of planning software (Microsoft Project and Primavera especially) was all the rage and contract project managers who had an in depth ability in this software were highly prized (and highly praised). In the last 10 years there has been a move away from software to methodology, evidenced by the huge numbers of people with qualifications in PRINCE2® and MSP™. In the last five years this has developed into a desire for project managers to apply the methodologies to the circumstances of the organisations for which they work – scaling the use of the methodology for different sizes and types of projects and adapting the documentation to include terminology used within the organisation. It makes me wonder what the next five years will bring. Already I am starting to see growing interest in the application of interpersonal skills such as communication skills, team management skills and particularly leadership skills to grow the ability of the project manager to handle complex political environments, and manage the under-resourcing commonly associated with projects. What do you think the next big thing is going to be in project management? Send in your comments and let’s see how good we are at predicting the future!

1 comment:

  1. Project Management started thousands of years ago (building the pyramids was a huge project, and there must've been someone similar to a Project Manager handling this project).

    Now about the new form of Project Management, I have published an article on the history of project management, claiming that the new, current era of Project Management started in the 1960s.

    Unfortunately, neither your article nor mine provide references on the subject.

    Wikipedia says that it started in the 1950s.