Morris Introduction Project Management is a social construct. Our understanding of what it entails has evolved over the years, and is continuing to do so. This chapter traces the history of this evolution. It does so from the perspective of the professional project management community.
It argues that although there are several hundred thousand members of project management professional associations around the world, and many more who deploy tools, techniques and concepts which they, and there, perceive to be ‘project management’, there are differing views of the scope of the subject, on its ontology and epistemology. Maybe this is true of many subjects which are socially constructed, but in the real world of projects, where people are charged with spending significant resources, misapprehension can be serious.
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Later chapters in this book reflect aspects of this uncertainty and some indeed question whether project management is or should be a distinct domain or a profession – having a body of knowledge of its own – at all. Many certainly note the trains between its normative character as a professional discipline and the importance of understanding context when applying it.
Nevertheless, despite this uncertainty the fact remains that millions see themselves as competent project professionals having shared ‘mental models’ of what is meant by the discipline. But are these models fit-for-purpose? The chapter argues that in part at least some are, or were, too limited in scope to address the task of delivering projects successfully. The account unavoidably draws on my personal engagement with, and reflection on, the field. History is always seen through the eye of the historian. It is an account of a ‘reflective practitioner’. Some commentators would doubtless tell the story differently, with different emphases. Hence, referring to the models again, a major theme running through the chapter is the danger of positioning project management with too narrow a focus – as an execution-only oriented discipline: “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques… To meet project requirements” (PM, 2008: 8). (So, who sets the requirements? Isn’t that part of the project? Instead, the chapter argues the benefits of focusing on the management of the project as a whole, from its early stages of conception – to include the elicitation and definition of requirements – to its post-commissioning phases, emphasizing context, the front-end, stakeholders, the various measures of project success, technology and commercial issues, people, and the importance of value and of delivering benefit: what I have termed elsewhere the management of projects’ (Morris and Hough, 1987; Morris, 1994; Morris and Pinto, 2004) – as well of course as being master of the traditional core execution skills.
Early history The word ‘project’ means something thrown forth or out; an idea or conception (Oxford English Dictionary); ‘management’ is “the art of arranging physical and human resources towards purposeful ends” (Wren, 2005:12). ‘Project Management’ means….?
The term as such appears not to have been in much if any use before the early sass, though of course projects had been managed since the dawn of civilization: the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge; history is full of examples of outstanding engineering feats, military campaigns and there singular undertakings, all attesting to man’s ability to accomplish complex, demanding projects. But, barring a few exceptions, it is not until the early sass that the language of contemporary project management begins to be invented.
There are several important precursors to this emergence however. Admire published his harmonium (effectively a vertical bar-chart) in 1903 (Marsh, 1975). (Following Priestley idea of putting lines to a horizontal timescale published in 1765 in his Chart of Biography. ) Gannet’s bar-chart followed in 1917. Formal project ordinate roles appear in the US Army Air Corps in the sass (Morris, 1994), project engineers and project officers Monsoons, 2002), and project engineers in Exxon and other process engineering companies in the ass.
And in 1936 Click, in a theoretical paper, proposed the idea of the matrix organization (Click, 1937). There is surprisingly little evidence of the contemporary language and tools of project management to be seen in the Second World War, despite the emergence of Operations Research (OR). The Manhattan Project – the US program to develop the Atom Bomb – is often quoted as one of the earliest examples of modern project management. This may be over-cooking the case: we see in the project – the program – none of the tools or language of today’s world of project management.
The sass and ass: Systems Development Project management as a term seems to first appear in 1953, arising in the US defense-aerospace sector Monsoons, 2002). The emerging advent of thermonuclear- armed Civic (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles), and in particular the threat from Russian Civic, became an increasingly severe US preoccupation from the early sass prompting the US Air Force (and Navy and Army) to look very seriously at how the development of their missiles could be accelerated.
Under procurement processes developed by Brigadier Bernard Cherisher for the US Air Force (USAF) in 1951, the USAF Air Research and Development and Air Material Commands were required to work together in ‘special project offices’ under a ‘project manager’ who would have full responsibility for the project and contractors were required to consider the entire Weapons system’ on a project basis Monsoons, 2002: 29-31). The
Martin (Marietta) company is credited with having created “the first recognizable project management organization” in 1953 – in effect a matrix Monsoons, 1997). The management of major systems programs In 1954 Cherisher was appointed to head the Atlas CUBIC development where he continued his push for integration and urgency, proposing a more holistic approach involving greater use of contractors as system integrators to create the system’s specifications and to oversee its development (Hughes, 1998; Johnson, 2002).
As with Manhattan, Cherisher concentrated on building an excellent team. To shorten development times, Cherisher also aggressively promoted the practice of concurrency – the parallel planning of all system elements with many normally serial activities being run concurrently (lampooned as ‘design-as-you-go! ). Unfortunately, concurrency amplified technical problems, as was discovered when missile testing began in late 1956.
As a result, Cherisher developed rigorous ‘systems engineering testing, tracking and configuration management techniques on the next missile program, Minuteman, which were soon to be applied on the Apollo moon program. Meanwhile the US Navy was developing its own project and program management practices. Following Teller’s 1956 insight that the rate of missile technology development would enable Civic to fit in submarines by the early to mid ass, when the submarines would be ready (Spooky, 1972:30), the Navy began work on Polaris.
Admiral Reborn was appointed as head of the Polaris SPOT (Special Projects Office) in 1955. Like Cherisher, Reborn emphasized quality of people and team morale. Polarity’s SPOT exerted more hands-on management than the Air Force, one result of which was the development in 1957 of PERT as a lancing and monitoring tool. PERT, the Planning and Evaluation Review Technique, never quite fulfilled its promise but, like Critical Path Method (CPM), invented by DuPont in 1957-59, became iconic as a symbol of the new discipline of project management.
Reborn, cleverly and presciently, used PERT as a tool in stakeholder management (though the term was not used), publicizing it to Congress and the Press as the first management tool of the nuclear and computer age. In 1960 the Air Force implemented Cheerer’s methods throughout its R&D organizations, documenting them as the ‘375-series’ regulations: a phased life-cycle approach; planning for the entire system up-front; project offices with the authority to manage the full development, assisted by systems support contractors (Morrison, 1967).
Essentially project and program management had become the fundamental means to organize complex systems development, and system engineering the engineering mechanism to coordinate them Monsoons, 1997). These principles were then given added weight, and thrust, first by the arrival of Robert Manager as US Secretary of Defense in 1960 and second by NASA (specifically Apollo); from there they spread throughout the US, and then Anta’s, aerospace and electronics industries.
Manager was an OR (Operations Research) enthusiast and a great centralists. The Program Planning and Budgeting System (PBS) was his main centralizing tool but he introduced in addition several OR-based practices such as Life Cycle Costing, Integrated Logistics Support, Quality Assurance, Value Engineering, Configuration Management, and the Work Breakdown Structure, the latter being promoted in 1962 in a Joint Department of Defense (DOD)/NASA guide: ‘PERT/Cost Systems Design’.
This ‘guide’ generated a proliferation of systems and much attendant complaining from industry, so instead Earned Value (as an element of Dodo’s C/CSS – Cost/Schedule Control Systems Criteria – requirements) was introduced in 1964 as a performance management approach (Morris, 1994). Meanwhile Sam Philips, recently a USAF Brigadier managing Minuteman, was heading Anna’s Apollo program “of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth”, in President Kennedy’s historic words of 1961. Apollo brought systems (project) management squarely into the public gaze.
Philips imposed configuration management as his core control discipline with rigorous design reviews and work package management – “the devil is in the interface” Monsoons, 2002). Matrix structures were deployed to harness specialist resources while task forces addressed specific problems. Quality, reliability and (all-up’) testing became hugely important as phased testing became too time consuming and costly. Back on Earth, Precedence scheduling had been invented in 1962, by MOM; and in the late ass resource allocation scheduling techniques were developed (Morris, 1994).
Organization and people management Project management came to be seen, for many years, as epitomized by tools such as PERT and CPM, Work Breakdown Structures and Earned Value. In reality however, a more fundamental feature is integration around a clear objective: whether as ‘single point of integrative responsibility, in Archibald pithy phrase (Archibald, 1976), project task forces’, or the matrix. This integration should ideally, as per Cherisher, be across the whole project life cycle. Regarding which, it is salutary to note that in the ‘execution’ view of project, the project manager is generally not the single point of integrative responsibility for the overall project but only for the execution phase. ) People skills are also important. As we have seen, Cherisher, Reborn and Philips all emphasized high level leadership, teamwork and task performance. Apollo sponsored several studies on team and individual skills (Baker and Wilhelm, 1974; Wilhelm and Thiamin, 1977).
In 1959 The Harvard Business Review published an article on the new integrator role, the project manager’ (Goad’s, 1959), and by the late ass and early ass these ideas on organizational integration had begun to attract serious academic attention, for example Lawrence and Larch’s 1967 study on integration and differentiation (1968), Gaslight’s on forms of integration (1973), and Davis and Lawrence work on the matrix 1977). The intellectual environment meanwhile became increasingly attuned to the systems approach’ (Iceland and King, 1968; Johnson, Cast and Rosenstein, 1973).
As NASA reached (metaphorically and literally) its apogee, project management began now to be seen as a management approach which had potentially very widespread application and benefit. Society could address its major social challenges, NASA claimed, using the same systems approaches that had got man to the Moon – employing “adaptive, problem-solving, temporary systems of diverse specialists, linked together by coordinating executives” (Webb, 1969: 23). But it was not going to be so easy, either in NASA, DoD, or the wider world.
For, as Sales and Chandler, two leading academics, pointed out in 1971 “NASA was a closed loop – it set its own schedule, designed its own hardware…. As one moves into the (more political) socio-technical area, this luxury disappears” (Sales and Chandler, 1971 : 160). The birth of the professional project management associations Simultaneously, with the spread of the matrix and DoD project management techniques, many executives suddenly found themselves pitched into managing projects for the first time. Conferences and seminars on how to do so proliferated.
The US Project Management Institute (PM) was founded in 1969; the International Management Systems Association (also called INTERNET, now the International Project Management Association – MAMA) in 1972 with various European project management associations being formed contemporaneously. Crucially, however, the perspective was essentially a middle management, project execution one centered around the challenges of accomplishing the project goals that had been given, and on the tools and techniques for doing this; it was rarely the successful accomplishment of the project per SE, which is after all what really matters.
Worse, the performance of projects, already too often bad, was now beginning to deteriorate sharply. The ass to the ass: wider application, new strands and ontological divergence In some cases, projects were failing precisely because they lacked project management – Concorde for example: an immense concatenation of technological challenges with no effective project management (Morris and Hough, 1987).
But in others, although ‘best practice’ was being earnestly applied, the paradigm was wrong. Concord’s American rival for example was managed by two ex-USAF senior officers according to DoD principles but with no effective program for addressing stakeholder opposition (remember Reborn! ) – which in fact led in 1970 to Congress refusing to fund the program and its cancellation (Horopito, 1982).
The whole nuclear power industry throughout the ass and ass exhibited similar problems of massive stakeholder (environmentalist) opposition coupled with the challenges of introducing major technological developments during construction (concurrency again, with the concomitant challenge of ‘regulatory ratcheting as authorities sought to codify and apply changing technical requirements on power plants already well under construction. ) Exceptionally high cost inflation world-wide blew project estimates.
The oil and gas industry faced additional costs as it moved into difficult new environments such as Alaska and the North Sea. Even the US weapons programs were not performing well, with problems of technology selection and proving, project definition, supplier selection, and above all concurrency, which DoD at times proscribed as costs grew and at others, chafing at the lack of speed, reluctantly allowed (Morris, 1994). Success and failure studies The causes of project success and failure now began to receive serious attention.
DoD had commissioned a number of studies on project performance concluding that technological uncertainty, scope changes, concurrency, and contractor engagement were major issues (Marshall & Neckline, 1959; Peck & Scorcher, 1962; Summers, 1965; Perry al. , 1969; Large, 1974). Developing world aid projects were analyses (Hiroshima, 1967), the World Bank in a major review of project lending between 1945 and 1985 concluding that more attention was needed to technological adequacy, reject design, and institution-building (Bam and Delbert, 1985).
The US General Accounting Office and the UK National Audit Office conducted several highly critical reviews of publicly funded projects. Various academic and other research bodies reported on energy and power plants, systems projects, R&D projects, autos and airports (Morris, 1994). In fact, Morris and Hough in their 1987 study of project success and failure, The Anatomy of Major Projects, listed 34 studies covering 1 ,536 projects and programs of the ass and ass (and added a further eight of their own).
Typical sources of difficulty ere: unclear success criteria, changing sponsor strategy, poor project definition, technology (fascination with; uncertainty of; design management), concurrency, poor quality assurance, poor linkage with sales and marketing, inappropriate contracting strategy, unsupported political environment, lack of top management support, inflation, funding difficulties, poor control, inadequate manpower, and geophysical conditions).
Most of these factors fell outside the standard project management rubric of the time, as expressed in the text books and conference hall floors and as loud soon be formalized by PM in its Body of Knowledge (UP, 2008). Later studies of project success and failure, such as those by Miller and Leasers (2001) on very large engineering projects, Flyleaves et al. 2003) on road and rail projects, and Meier (2008) on US defense and intelligence projects, as well as the notorious CHAOS Reports by Standish (1994 of on software development projects, emphasized similar factors, biz: the importance of managing the front-end project definition stages of a project . (DoD had come to the same conclusion, following the US 1972 Commission on Government Procurement, with its creation of the front-end Milestone O); the pivotal role of the owner (or sponsor); the need to manage in some way project ‘externalities’.
Miller and Leasers further made the critical distinction between projects’ efficiency (on time, in budget, to scope) and effectiveness (achieving the sponsor’s objectives) measures, showing that their projects generally did much worse on the latter (around 45%) than the former (around 75%). (Is it reasonable that effectiveness should be so much worse than efficiency? ) But by the time of their report, the early sass, the reject management community was becoming much more aware of the importance of business value, as we shall see.
These studies signposted a growing bifurcation in the way project management is perceived, with many taking the predominantly middle management, execution- oriented perspective, others taking a broader, more holistic view where the focus is on managing projects. The difference may at first seem slight but the latter involves managing the front-end development period, the former is focused on activity once requirements have been set. The unit of analysis moves from execution management o the project as an organizational entity which has to be managed successfully.
Both paradigms involve managing multiple elements but the ‘management of projects’ is an immensely richer, more complex domain than execution management. This intellectual contrast was marked clearly in the publication of Mi’s ‘Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge’ (K) in 1983/87. Project Management Bodies of Knowledge The drive behind the development of a project management Body of Knowledge (K) was the idea then gaining ground that if project management was to be a profession rely there should be some form of certification of competence (Cook, 1977).
This would then require some definition of the distinctive knowledge area that the professional is competent in. The initial 1983 PM BOOK ([email protected]) identified six knowledge 1 Aristotle noted over 3,000 years ago that defining the question is half the answer (Ethics: Book 1 . C. 4: literally: “For the beginning is thought to be more than half the whole”). Elements: scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, and communications management; the 1987 edition added risk and contract/procurement. (There have nice been several updates. The Auk’s Association for Project Management (AMP) followed a similar path a few years later but considered the PM BOOK too narrow in its definition of the subject. Amp’s model was strongly influenced by the ‘management of projects’ paradigm: that managing scope, time, cost, resources, quality, risk, procurement, etc. Alone is not enough to assure successful project outcomes. In 1991 AMP thus produced a broader document which gave recognition to matters such as objectives, strategy, technology, environment, people, business and commercial issues, and so on.
The AMP BOOK has gone to five revisions, Versions 3 and 5 being based on special research (Morris et al. , 2006). In 1998 the MAMA (which today comprises 45 national project management associations representing more than 40,000 members) published its Competence Baseline to support its certification programmer (Pawnbroker et al, 1999). In doing so it adopted the AMP BOOK almost wholly as its model of project management. In 2002 the Japanese project management associations, ANNA and NEFF, also produced a broadly based K: PAM (Project and Program Management) (ANNA, 2002).
New Product Development Meanwhile during the sass a stream of insights began appearing from the product development industries. There influence was to prove significant. Again the initial impetus was studies of success and failure, notably by Callisthenic, Gadget and Cooper, the result of which was to emphasis a staged approach to development, with strong scrutiny at stage gates where there is a predisposition not to proceed unless assured of the investment and management health of the development process (Cooper, 1986).
These ideas were taken further in two research programs which were to have a throng influence on practice across project-based sectors – pharmaceuticals and other R industries, manufacturing, oil and gas, utilities, systems development: one based at Harvard (Clark and Fusion, 1991; Wheelwright and Clark, 1992); the other centered at MIT, the International Motor Vehicle Program (MAP) (Woman, Jones and Ross, 1992). Both drew heavily on Japanese auto manufacturers’ practices, particularly Toast’s. Clark et al. Articulated many of the principles now underlying good project development practice: portfolio selection (in relation to market demands ND technology strategy and the pace of scheme development); stage reviews; the ‘Shush’ – the ‘large project leader’; project teams representing all the functions critical to overall project success; and the importance of the sponsor. Critically, the Shush – the ‘heavyweight project manager’ – has as his first role “to provide for the direct interpretation of the market and customer needs” (Wheelwright and Clark: 1992: 33).
The (heavyweight) project core team exists throughout the project duration but – reflecting the domain’s dual paradigms – project management is positioned in project execution following approval of the project plan! Supply chain management Both programs dealt extensively with supply chain issues. The MAP addressed ‘lean management’; Clark et al. Introduced ‘alliance or partnered’ projects. Lean emphasizes productivity improvements through reduced waste, shorter supply lines, lower inventory and similar; partnering is about gaining productivity improvements through alignment of supply chain members.
Partnering became extremely significant as a supply chain practice in the ass and beyond. Traditional forms of contract had long frustrated project management’s goal of achieving project-wide integration. The scope is supposed to be fixed by the tender documents but when changes occur, as they often do, the contractor may be highly motivated to claim for contract variations, particularly since the contract had been awarded to the cheapest bidder. This creates a disposition towards conflict. Further, the contractor only enters the project once the design is substantially complete; this meant that ‘availability inputs are often missed.
The sass and ass saw substantial efforts across many sectors but particularly the whole construction spectrum to dress these issues and improve project performance. Partnering, with its move from an essentially transactional to a relationship form of engagement of contractors, with the focus on alignment and performance improvement, was an important element of this move for change. Concurrent Engineering Simultaneous development, or concurrent engineering, was a major theme of both the MAP and Harvard auto programs.
The new practice of concurrent engineering was a more successful, sophisticated version of concurrency, avoiding the problems which had so encumbered project management since the days of Cherisher. Concurrent engineering comprises parallel working where possible (simultaneous engineering); integrated teams drawing on all the functional skills needed to develop and deliver the total product (marketing, design, production – hence design-for-manipulability, design-to-cost, etc. ); integrated data modeling; and a propensity to delay decision-taking for as long as possible.
Concurrency was often really part of the broader issue of how to manage technical innovation in a project environment. Various solutions began to emerge in the ass: prototyping off-line so that only proven technology is used in commercially sensitive rejects (compare the nuclear power story with its 330 mm prototype plants! ); rapid prototyping where quick impressions could be gained by quasi mock-ups; use of preplanned product improvements (PAP), particularly on shared platforms – a form of program management (Wheelwright and Clark, 1992).
Technology Management Slowly the projects world got better at managing technical uncertainty – but not always. Defense, and intelligence, continues as an exception: the case for technology push and urgency may simply be so great to national security that the rules have to be disregarded – with predictable consequences. Hence Meier in 2008 reporting on a CIA/DoD study: “most unsuccessful programs (studied) fail at the beginning.
The principal causes of (cost and schedule) growth can be traced to immature technology, lack of corporate technology roadways, requirements instability, ineffective acquisition strategy, unrealistic program baselines, inadequate systems engineering” (Meier, 2007). At the heart of many project difficulties lies the crucial issue of requirements . For if one isn’t clear on what is required, it shouldn’t be a surprise if one doesn’t get it. The only trouble is, it’s often very hard to do this. In building, architects take the brief from their clients – usually followed by scheme designs, specifications and detailed design.
In software (and many systems) projects the product is less physically obvious and harder to visualize and articulate. Requirements management (engineering) rose into prominence in the late sass (Davis et al. , 2004). Several systems development models were published in the ass and ass – the Waterfall, Spiral, and Eve (Forgoers, Moos and Cattleman, 1996) – all emphasizing a move from user, system and business requirements (requirements being solution free), through pacifications, systems design, and build, and then back through mirrored levels of testing (verification and validation).