Project management, in some form, has existed for thousands of years. Some notable examples are the great pyramids, Moses' movement of the Israelites out of Egypt, the temple and palace built by Solomon, and the magnificent building programs of the Greeks and the Romans. How these projects were accomplished at all defies imagination, particularly given the tools of the day. For instance, how was the Great Pyramid of Cheops, consisting of an estimated 2,300,000 stone blocks, weighing two to seventy tons each, built with such precision? This pyramid, the size of a forty-story building, stands on a thirteen-acre base that even today deviates less than an inch off level.
With the advent of electricity and industrialization, project complexity increased. No longer were projects complex principally because they were large-scale exercises in endurance. Now they were complex because of their scale. In addition, because of component complexity, they demanded improved project management techniques and tools. The catalyst for these improvements was World War II and the resulting cold war.
World War II brought a refinement to project management that had never been experienced. Manufacturing and production lines were optimized for producing war materials faster and better. Management of these efforts required new and better project management techniques, resulting in a surge of new thinking in project management. The United States Department of Defense (DOD) began to develop or contract for new and better tools and techniques for managing projects. Projects such as the Polaris submarine involved so many contractors and so much development that it was virtually impossible to schedule or track progress using standard management techniques. Thus, scheduling and network analysis techniques were developed to provide consistent project tracking and controlling techniques. Consequently, the DOD is directly responsible for introducing nearly all the traditional project management tools used by professional project managers today.
IT projects have created more project management challenges. To exacerbate the challenge of project complexity, nearly all IT projects have the added constraint of tighter schedules, usually imposed by the need to rush to market.
IT is pervasive. The technological fuel for this pervasiveness is not just the computer. It is the marriage of computer technology with communication technology. The explosion of IT onto the world has solved many business problems and opened new business directions, but it has also created some serious management issues.