The Biggest Innovations in Project Management History

What does the Great Wall of China, Parthenon, and Taj Mahal have in Common?
You would be correct if you answered “They were all built within the last 3,000 year.” But that’s just scratching the surface. These structures are impressive not only for their creativity, but also because of the systematic methods used in their construction. These methods have similar characteristics to modern project management.
That’s right. These historical monuments were all created at the same time.
They had project sponsors, business justification, project charters and project sponsors. They also followed the phases we now know as Project Management Process Groups and all nine PMBOK areas.
These structures are beautiful and should be appreciated, but modern innovations in project management history has simplified how we tackle similar mega-projects. We are no longer used to project timelines that span 20-276 years.
Projects were managed by engineers and architects until the 1900s. Since then, a lot has changed. Project management as we know today was largely formed in the last century. Let’s take a look at the most significant innovations in project management history, which have changed the way we work and shaped the industry.
Before 1958: Laying the Foundation
Project management was still a distant dream for Henry Gantt when the 20th century arrived. Gantt Chart, his name, was created in 1915 to show a project’s timeline. This bar chart shows quickly if a project has met its schedule, is ahead of schedule, and if it has fallen behind schedule. This chart is often included in modern project management software.
Fast forward to 1940s when Toyota engineers created the Kanban system to improve their manufacturing process. Kanban was not mainstreamed for 60 more years. What was the other happening? Notable projects at the time were:
1931-1936 Hoover Dam, completed on budget and two years ahead schedule with 5,200 workers
1933-1937 The Golden Gate Bridge
1942-1945 The Manhattan Project
1958-1979: The Birth of Modern Project Management
This phase of project management can be defined as technological innovation. In 1959, Xerox introduced its first copy machine. In 1969, the UNIX language was developed and Bill Gates founded Microsoft.
The International Project Management Association (IPMA), and the Project Management Institute(PMI) were founded during this time, which legitimized project management as a discipline. Several core tools for project management were also introduced, including an early instant messaging system and email software. In 1977, Artemis and Oracle were the first companies to create project management software. Scitor Corporation followed in 1979.
Some notable projects from that time include:
1956-1961 Polaris Missile Project (with the help of CPM/PERT methodologies
1963-1972 Apollo Project: NASA successfully led six missions that explored the moon
1963-1972 ARPANET (the technical basis of the Internet) was established. The concept of an “Intergalactic Computer Network” was well in progress.
1980-1994: The Rugby Approach
Scrum was first introduced in 1986 as a method of project management. This flexible and holistic approach to product development strategy has been named after the sports term, and is still relevant today, especially in software development.
Computer-based tools for scheduling were created during this phase. The first commercial instant messaging system was also available. People moved from mainframe computers to personal computers and were able to manage complex project schedules electronically. Project management software for the PC became more widely available, making it easier to manage project schedules digitally.
Some notable projects from that time include:
1989-1991 The Channel Tunnel, built to overcome the barriers imposed by b