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The Evolution of Project Management Practice in the U.S

TheEvolution of Project Management Practice in the U.S

TheEvolution of Project Management Practices in the U.S

Introductionand Objectives

ProjectManagement is a field that has been in existence for thousands ofyears with the mid 20-th century being the start of the modern era inthe management of projects. Before the 1950s most projects weremanaged by an ad-hoc mostly by application of simple instruments andtechniques. The evolution of project management is a vital topic fororganizations since there has to be execution and implementation ofnew undertakings. Projects within an organization can range from theinitiation of new products or goods by the company, developing a newproduction line within a manufacturing firm or even the promotion ofa company through a re-energized public relations campaign. Regardingthe various periods about project management, the 1980s was largelyabout quality while the 1990s was more concerned with globalization.The new millennium has brought a sense of velocity to projectmanagement. Companies that have enhanced practices of projectmanagement will be successful in their area of specialization, andtherefore it is essential for the initiation and implementation ofthe appropriate strategies in an organization. As such, this papertakes a critical analysis of the various methods and practices whichare applied in project management. It also looks at the differencesand similarities that exist between the traditional and new methodsof project management. Lastly, the paper also looks at the variouspractices which are applied by organizations in the U.S as comparedto other countries.

ProjectManagement in Ancient History

Thedefinition of project management as an activity which is aimed atproducing a particular or unique product through applying knowledgeand skills is a clear indication that human beings started managingprojects since the ancient times. In history, the ancient architectsand engineers initiated and delivered exciting projects which can beconsidered to have been achieved through project management. Theancient human being constructed some impressive architectureincluding the Pyramid of Giza, the Great Wall of China, and thehanging gardens of Babylon among others. The ancient engineers andarchitects can be considered as the early project managers sincethese projects were initiated and implemented by them. In the lastmillennia, there have been a lot of projects which have beenundertaken through project management in one way or the other. According to Sun Tzu, a battle is a project that has to be plannedand implemented to be won. There have been other projects includingvarious transcontinental railways which were erected in the 19thcentury as well as buildings of various complexities that wereconstructed for as long as humankind has existed.

Theconcept of project management only started to become relevant in thelast half of the 20thcentury with the earlier endeavors just being considered as acts ofaccomplishing an activity. The people who completed or oversaw theseactivities were not specifically projected managers but were givenvarious titles about the activity that they were in charge of. Thefirst program in management of projects can be considered as theManhattan Project of building an atomic bomb in the 1940s where themanagers of the project saw themselves as either scientists ormilitary officers (Studt, Messinger, &amp Wilson, 2008). Theevolution of project management has led to the distinction betweenprojects as either a temporary activity that is undertaken with theaim of creating a new product or result or as a profession thatinvolves being tasked with the responsibilities of ensuring theimplementation of strategies to complete a particular activity toachieve the desired result. This process has seen the evolution ofprocesses of analysis of schedules (CPM) and other tools of projectmanagement such as technology. There has also been an evolution ofmanagement science in the 20thcentury which has led to foundations in developing of the modernproject management as a branch of the directorate.

Theevolution of the modern project management underwent three periodicstages with the traditional project management taking place between1960 and 1985. During this period, projects were handled in aninformal basis where the project manager was not given any majorauthorities and responsibilities. During the traditional projectmanagement period, most of the projects were completed before theschedule surpassed the budget. The second period was the renaissanceof project management which took place between 1985 and 1993. Duringthis period, techniques were applied in management of projects andorganizations were faced with intense competition and they had toundertake projects based on the cost and quality. This was largelyattributed to the recession of 1989 and 1993 which ensured thatattention was given to scheduling of projects so as to cut on costs.Lastly, the modern era of project management took place between 1993and the present day. This period has witnessed major developments inaspects of project management and this was as a result oftechnological competencies and increased sophistication in tools andtechniques which are used in the process.

Theinvention of the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Scheduling

Theindustrial revolution witnessed the evolution of the science ofmanagement and various processes, tools, and techniques which werespecifically used for controlling the functioning of businesses.There were several tools which were invented in the 19thand 20thcenturies which were of great significance to the evolution ofproject management as a science. The Barchart has been one of thetools which have been widely used in the management of the project.The Barchart can be traced back to the 18thcentury and was invented by Joseph Priestley in his ‘Chartof Biography’with the concept being popularized by William Playfair in 1786. Therewas also the flow-line scheduling in the 1930s which was widely usedin projects such as the construction of the Empire State Building.The Line of Balance techniques has also been utilized in themanagement of projects after being developed by Goodyear Company inthe early 1940s. This tool was adopted by the U.S Navy forprogramming and controlling projects.

Thefirst project to be considered to use science in controlling time wasdone in 1957 by Kelley and Walker. A year earlier the two had starteddeveloping algorithms which became known as a method of pathscheduling after they had received funding for the development of theproject. The program that was developed by Kelley and Walker wastried on plant shutdowns in 1957 with the first paper that discussedthe critical path method being published in 1959. The development ofthe critical path scheduling was followed by the development of PERTsystem which was transformed into PEP (Program Evaluation Procedure)and other familiar systems by the U.S Air Force. As the CPM and PERTapplied the same approach such as a network diagram, PERT mostlyemphasized on time as the primary variable while CPM had a differentcost of achieving the target. The component of cost in CPM thenslowly disappeared while the time variable lasted longer but wasultimately replaced BY Monte Carlo analysis which was more accurate.The modern instruments of project management that are based on MonteCarlo can calculate the variables of time and cost simultaneously.

Anotherproject management methodology known as the Precedence (PDM) wasdeveloped by Dr. John Fondahl as an approach that did not applycomputer in scheduling. But the Precedence was later computerized andcommercialized by IBM as software for project control system. Thefocus that PERT received after its initiation was later overtakencommercially by CPM which was founded by Kelley and Walker and by theend of the 1960s both tools had merged to form a general networkingapproach which was applied in scheduling. But by the mid-1970s, thePDM networking approach had gained a lot of momentum and had becomedominant. Later the U.S government came to notice that controlling ofschedules was a partial part of the answer and therefore NASA and theU.S military came up with a range of new tools such as the WorkBreakdown Structure (WBS), PERT per Cost, PERT-RAMPS among others.The emergence of these systems was not welcomed by contractors, butmost of these developments have become the core of project managementin recent times. There have also been other recent developmentsincluding Critical Chain, Earned Schedule, and tools for managing theportfolio.

The‘Iron Triangle` that consists of Time, Cost and Output has alsobeen one of the vital discoveries in the management of projects. The‘Iron Triangle` was first described by Dr. Martin Barnes of theUnited Kingdom in a course which he had come up with in 1969 referredto Time and Money in Contract Control. The time, cost and outputelements of the ‘Iron Triangle` are always important but theevolution of the cost control into precise processes took place withthe industrial revolution in the 18thcentury. With the time element being more important, projects such asCrystal Palace within a very short time with the scheduling lackedboth science and recognition until later in the century. As much asthere were advances in the control processes and the application ofmodern bar chart, there was no any recognition of scheduling as aspecial project of management until the commercialization of the CPMincorporated the third element of the iron triangle to the attentionof the public in the early 1960s.

Therehas been a continual evolution, expansion, and segregation of theunderstanding of the elements that are involved the management ofprojects. The major elements of what can be considered as the modernproject management have been well integrated with time while otheraspects such as quality, risk, technology, and management ofstakeholders are also playing supporting roles in the techniques andprocesses. Project management evolution can be considered to havemirrored the evolution of general management with an emphasis on thescientific processes within the early years and later focusing on thesofter skills in the later years. The trend has been shown by theanalysis of papers which have been published in articles and journalsof management. On the same note, most of the new instruments ofproject management which have been released into the market in the21stcentury have been focused on the process of collaboration,communication, and management of stakeholders.

ProjectManagement Methodologies Background

Withthe expansion of the scope that project management covers, there hasbeen the development of methodologies which have been used in theformalization of the techniques of managing projects byorganizations. The growth in the popularity of methodologies used inthe management of projects have rapidly grown from the start of the1970s to the 1980s but the turn of the century has witnessed a shiftin focus towards the adoption of maturity models such as OPM3 andP3M3 from purchasing of expensive methodologies in the commercialmarket. In project management, the original core of any methodologyrevolves around its process descriptions with the process beingtypically implemented through a consistent application of templates,software. In most cases, the methodologies are supported anddeveloped by a form of project management office (PMO). Most of themethodologies are used internally by organizations and describe howbusiness is done in that particular organization.

Themethodologies which have been commercialized and marketed have haddifferent degrees of success except for the PRINCE2 methodology.PROMPT (Project, Resource, Organization, Management and PlanningTechnique) which was a forerunner of PRINCE was developed and adoptedby the UK’S Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency in 1979as the primary methodology that all information system projects inthe UK were required to use. Later PRINCE was created from PROMPTIIand made the default methodology for the public in 1989. In 1996,PRINCE2 was taken as the replacement for the CCTA after a longconsultation with the various users. In the present day, the PRINCE2methodology is being undertaken through refreshment which was dulycompleted in 2009 and is applied by governments through in variouscountries and continents across the globe.

TraditionalProject Management Practices

Inproject management, traditional practices involve applying knowledge,tools and techniques in activities that require management so as tomeet the set goals and objectives. Traditional practices are acomplete cycle that involves the completion of various phasesincluding initiation, planning, execution, controlling andconclusion. According to the Project Management Institute (2004),asserts that traditional project management practices are alwaysconcerned with fulfilling the demands of the elements such as time,cost, risk, quality with the pre-determined framework set by thestakeholders. As such, traditional project management can becharacterized by organization, planning and control methods thatalways result in stages of the project lifecycle.

Theemergence and evolution of traditional project management can beattributed to the increased need to formalize the process of projectmanagement. Even though these practices were seen as a solution tomanaging projects, it was also considered as a failure regarding its‘one-shelf approach` which is not applicable in the dynamicenvironment of project management. Traditional project management isalso based on the premise that circumstances that surround the eventsin a project can be foreseen and the techniques or instruments usedin handling them as predictable even though there can beunanticipated occurrences that can have an impact on the outlinedplans. Under dynamic conditions, it is important to have iterationsthat are specifically confined to stages of the management of theproject.

TheWaterfall model is one of the traditional methodologies formanagement of projects. This model works in a way that the work to beaccomplished in the project is broken into stages or sections whichhave to be completed before moving to the next activity. Thewaterfall model synchronizes with the traditional project managementdue to its emphasis on viewing every stage within the project as adependent activity whose completion has an impact on how or when thenext stages start (Cadle and Yeates, 2008 Thomsett, 2002). Thewaterfall model is simple and can be very easy to use in schedulingand lay out steps which are used in the process of developing theproject (Hass, 2007). This model can also enhance the quality ofproject management through its process of verifying and validating ofprocesses (Cadle and Yeates, 2008). Such features of the waterfallmodel are what have made it be a mainstay in project management. Butin contrast, the waterfall model has also been considered as notsuited for the business environment of the 21stcentury due to its rigidity. According to Hass (2007), it isimportant to adhere to the specific requirements when using thewaterfall model for managing projects, but this is not applicablesince not all projects are sequential in nature and importantlycustomers cannot state all the requirements of the project in theinitial stages of the life cycle.

Traditionalproject management practices have also been found to have changes inthe design during the process of testing and developing the variousstages of the project. This has the potential to cause chaos sincethe waterfall model requires that preceding tasks are completed firstbefore moving to the next. Such a factor can lead to the failure ofthe project on the basis of time delay and poor quality which aresome of the important elements of an organization`s ability toattract clients. Project Management Institute (2004) asserts thatchanges in projects within the traditional management practices canbe expensive while having a minimal beneficial effect on the finalresult of the project. The increasing cost of changes in relation totime cannot be desirable for organizations that operate on tightbudgets with demanding customers and therefore making the managerslook for better solutions for managing their projects.

AgileProject Management (APM)

Theagile method of project management can help an organization to beable to adapt to any dynamic conditions without having to undergo anyserious changes (Tang etal., 2004).The ability for the organization to be agile involves being able toact proactively in any dynamic environment. The specific definitionof agile project management has been defined in various dimensionswhich vary on the degree of the industrial bias and the level ofagility even though all the definitions most things in common.According to Aguanno (2004), coordination in project management ismore inclined towards information technology, and this creates moreconfusion since its combines both lean and agile techniques. Aguanno(2004) describes agile methods as involving Extreme Programming,Crystal techniques, lean development and feature driven development.His argument was that the term agile is based on methods that areresponsive to the dynamism in the economic environment by applyingapproaches and methods that are controllable and flexible(Snijders,Wuttke, Zandhuis, &amp Newton, 2009). But this definition isrefutable on the basis that lean approach is more aimed at reducingthe time through the elimination of valueless waste while the agilemethod is more focused on delivery improvement through reducing anycomplexities and uncertainties.

Theevolution APM can be attributed to the ever changing business needsand requirements which have necessitated the application ofmanagement approaches and methodologies which are flexible and canadapt to the market while also satisfying the requirements of thecustomer (Macheridis, 2009). APM evolved after the failure oftraditional project management practices to fully satisfy the demandsand needs of all economic situations. It is important to understandthe origin of APM since they have become increasingly popular in mostorganizations and businesses. In most cases, the application of APMhas led to success in most industries as well as becoming morerelevant in the construction and manufacturing industry where itsapplication has enhanced the response and effectiveness of theproject managers within an unpredictable environment (Fernandez andFernandez, 2009 Owen etal.,2006).

Mostscholars agree that the techniques and methodologies applied in APMemanated from software engineering frameworks such as Scrum andExtreme Programming (XP) in the early 1980s. APM can also be tracedto the 1980s after being applied by the manufacturers of Japaneseautomobiles in the development of their products(Aguanno2004). These techniques were initially known as lightweight methodsbefore the term Agile was adopted to depict their impacts on projectsthat had a high level of dynamism. But this stance is controversialsince it is a combination of both lean and agile which could beconsidered as an impossibility at that time. According to Augustineand Woodcock (2008), the development and evolution of practices ofagility in project management are based on the new science theory ofthe complex adaptive systems (CAS). The theory of complexity isderived from the ‘chaos theory` which is described as the analysisand examination of the order and patterns which emanate fromdisordered systems (Elliot, 2008). It also focused on having aperfect understanding of how the complex behavior and structuresemanate from the underlying rules (Augustine etal.,2005 Fernandez and Fernandez, 2009).

Larman(2004) asserts that APM methodologies are considered to be CAS sincethey deal with a chaotic system which manifests itself with theprogression of the projects as a result of the uncertainties thatrevolve around the future. CAS has the self-organizational abilityand can adapt to any environmental changes as much as their behavioris not controlled by any regulation. With CAS encouraging theinteraction among the sub-parts of the project to develop an adaptivebehavior, its application in the management of projects is mostly dueto its ability to be flexible and have an approach specific tomanagement(Snijders,Wuttke, Zandhuis, &amp Newton, 2009). Complex global behavior in CAShas also been attributed to the rules that guide the semi-autonomousblocks. The application of this concept in managing of projects canhelp in the creation of more time for the project managers to be morefocused on pertinent issues due to the semi-autonomy of the agents.As such, considering the similarities that exist between CAS and APMmethodologies it can be concluded that most elements of APM emanatedfrom CAS.

Comparisonof US construction project management practices to developingcountries

ConstructionProject Management in U.S

Constructionmanagement (CM) in the U.S is defined by the Construction ManagementAssociation of America (CMAA) as a system of management that iscreated to enhance a successful implementation and execution ofprojects for the owners of the constructed buildings. Constructionmanagement contracts in the U.S involves a single form being giventhe responsibility of coordinating all the activities ranging fromthe initiation of the concept to the exact moment the facility isaccepted. The construction management is a process that is undertakenin two forms including the Agency CM and at-risk CM.

TheAgency CM is an arrangement between the contractor and the ownerbased on a fee. In agency CM the project manager is responsible forall the operations and acts exclusively in the interests of the ownerat all stages of the project. The approach involves the constructioncompany assuming the role of the agent and administers the work ofthe other entities in the project. The major responsibility of theproject manager is to administer the project from the planning stageto completion. The construction manager is also tasked withmonitoring the costs, quality, time and safety during the period ofthe project.

At-riskCM involves the construction company also being the contractor of theproject during the construction phase. This approach begins with theconstruction company performing the agency roles in all thepre-construction services by assuming the risks that are involved indelivering the project. Apart from acting in the interest of theowner of the project, the construction manager also protectsthemselves (CMAA, 2001). At some point within the project, theparties involved are required to agree on a guaranteed maximum priceby taking into consideration all the provisions. In the U.S, there isa variation in the distribution of risk agency CM and at-risk CMbased on whoever holds the contracts and whether the manager is thedesignated constructor during the construction phase.

ConstructionProject Management in U.K

Inthe U.K, there are two types of construction project managementincluding management contract and construction management. In themanagement contract, the permanent activities are constructed througha series of contracts that are signed by the management contractorafter the client has approved. Management contracts are used by theconstruction industry in the UK but rarely in civil engineering. Mostof the companies that provide their services through managementcontracts are in the construction industry. There are four differenttypes of systems for managing contracts, and they include managementcontract, construction management contract, design, and managementcontract and project management. Management contracting is where thecontractor gives the guarantee of cost and time while theconstruction management the contractors had a direct contract withthe client and the manager was responsible for the cost and time. Themanagement contractor is tasked with planning, coordinating andorganizing all the activities in the project.

Theconcept of management contracting implies an early appointment of amanagement contractor after a professional team is appointed, and theproject drawings and specifications have been prepared. Since mostworkers are tendered separately by the contractors, it would be leastexpensive for the project as a whole. At the same time, it is amethod that is open-ended since the pricing of the project can onlybe done if the final work quotation has been received. Workscontractors are directly engaged with the client to accomplish theproject, and therefore the client assumes the position of the maincontractor. In UK CM project management, a contractor can accept apoint of responsibility to the client while separately sub-lettingthe various works contracts making the client not privy to anyagreements. Management contracting is a risk-free methodology formanagement of contracts unless there is a form professionalnegligence from the side of the management contractor. The managementcontractors are not liable for any construction risks or incompetencyfrom the construction contractors. In the contracts that are involvedin construction management in the U.K, the manager manages theprocess and acts the agent for the client for each work package thatis agreed between the client and the individual trade contractorsmaking the client privy to the contracts.

Influencesof Construction Management practices

Thesize of the construction industry has been impressive globally bothregarding employment and output with statistics revealing that theindustry has a large number of small firms. The industry isinfluenced by an array of factors that range from the size of thefirms and the construction projects that are undertaken. According tothe Construction Market Intelligence Division (CMI), there have beenmergers and takeovers of construction companies from the 1980s, butthere has been no specific construction firm that has a monopoly inthe industry. As such, the size profile of a company has a hugeinfluence on the implications for construction management practice.

Constructionmanagement is an industry that is based on projects and mostcompanies undertake these projects within a very long duration oftime with the construction either being geographically dispersed orfixed. A majority of these projects are customized to therequirements of the client and designed and built at a price that isestablished in a competitive system of tendering. In the early 1990s,the methods which are applied in project management have found theirway into the competitive tendering process which had taken place inthe 1970s and 1980s where the clients in the public sector couldcommission a huge proportion of their construction activities. On anindividual basis, the projects can constitute a large proportion ofthe workload of the firm with dire consequences if anything goeswrong.

Theworkforce is another factor that can influence the constructionmanagement practices with the young predominantly accounting for ahuge percentage of the workforce. This is due to the fluctuation ofthe workload and the legislation on employment which has always hadan impact on the unionization of labor. In most cases, the projectmanagers of construction projects have always come from a backgroundwith the trade even though the trend is shifting towards technicalcourses. The professions involved in project management havedeveloped a sophisticated system that is used for registration andtraining which is administered by the important institutions.

Entranceinto the industry is also another factor which has an impact on theconstruction management practices as the respective professionalinstitutions have control over their members and have created severalconstraints in the building up of a contracting business. Forinstance, the Chartered Institute of Building has set up a schemeonly for registered companies. At the same time, the system ofinterim payments that are conducted in the process of constructionprojects means that the small companies that are joining the industryhave minimal financial requirements. An ease of entry into the sectorcan also lead to an increased numbers of companies joining but theirexit is also equally as easy. For the large projects, entrance intothe industry is always restricted to the companies that have theappropriate status and positive track record that can be used tocomplete the available types of projects.

Separationof the processes of production and designing within the managementprocess can also pose difficulties during the process. Theconstruction management industry has been influenced by the needs ofthe public sector, and the design can be separated from class andtraining. There has also been a trend of applying approaches whichare more integrated due to the decrease in the number of publiccontracts. The construction industry is also influenced by the natureof demand which emanates from the need of buildings for residential,business and production functions. As such, the construction industryis strongly linked to the economy and the level of interest and anybusiness activities. Buildings are being considered as capital, andthis makes them be natural targets regarding expenditure cuts thatare done both by the government and the private sector. Thegovernment also plays a role in influencing the practices ofconstruction management due to a shift in the public funding ofconstruction projects to either public or private initiatives. Thegovernment also plays a role in adjusting the interest rates and canstimulate or stifle demand by the use of interest rates. There isalso a huge concern regarding the rising in prices of houses as wellas the process of controlling prices.


Bythe research that is outlined in the paper, it can be reasoned thatthe evolution of the management of projects is due to the demand forprofessional managers where there can be a discussion and developmentof a new discipline. Additionally, the need to make an effective useof data that is generated by the managers with the aim ofidentifying, managing and controlling of the methodologies of projectmanagement is also a reason that led to the development of projectmanagement. These needs are what led to the formation of associationsthat are involved in the management of projects in the modern era,and has further led to the development of documented and definedknowledge that is applied by these associations. After theformulation of knowledge, it was possible for associations which dealwith the construction management to make clear definitions of thecompetencies of projects while also creating a profession that wasspecifically for management of projects. The evolution of projectmanagement has evolved within the same lines to the theory ofmanagement, and during the early days, it focused on scientificprocesses such as time and cost. There has also been a recentemphasis which has shifted towards the soft skills which are morerelated to the human capital with a focus on the leadership,stakeholders and communication.


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