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Project Management History

"Wise men learn by other men's mistakes, fools by their own."
H.G. Wells.

This page provides a set of annotated links to a range of papers focused on the
history and development of modern project management and project controls.
Visit our free PM Knowledge Index for a complete listing of available PM papers and articles -

Quick Links to Papers:

Definition of document types:

PP: Published Papers: Written conference papers, journal articles, significant magazine articles and books.
Prs: Presentations: Conference presentations (PowerPoint only).
DP: Discussion Papers: An in-depth discussion of a topic.
WP: White Papers: Short reference papers.
Art: Articles: Short topical discussions published in a variety of media.
Blg: Blogs: Selected blog posts from Mosaic and SRMM websites.
  • Document Key
    • PP: xxxx.  
    • Prs: xxxx.  
    • DP: xxxx.  
    • WP: xxxx.  
    • Art: xxxxx.  
    • Blgxxxx.    
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This free PM History site is funded by Mosaic to give back to a profession we have enjoyed working in for many years. Most of the documents are available for use and adaptation by your or your organisation under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. This work is funded by proceeds from our training courses:   

Mosaic Project Services Pty Ltd's company history extends back over 30 years: see the timeline

History of Project Management

PP: The Origins of Modern Project ManagementThis paper discusses the ways in which management theories evolved from the beginning of the 18th century and the technological inventions of the 20th century interacted to encourage the establishment of project management bodies, which in turn created the profession of modern project management.
PP: Trends In Modern Project Management - Past Present & FutureThis paper discusses the trends in project management from the past, to the present and into the future. 

Blg: The PMP® Examination is 30 years old.  A brief history of the linked development of PMI's PMP examination and the PMBOK® Guide.
Blg: Construction project management is a very old profession.  The construction of Hwaseong Fortress in Korea that was built between 1794 and 1796.

Ancillary processes and concepts

PP: The origins of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) calendarThis paper looks at the reasons why days have 24 hours but hours have 60 minutes and why the number of days in each month varies.  The origins of today's UTC go back more then 6000 years!

ArtAre numbers real? This brief article looks at the origins and some of the irrational aspects of the numbers we use every day.

WP: The Functions of Management. The functions and principles of management (H. Fayol, 1916). 

BlgArbitration has a long history. An outline of the Saxon legal codes used in the Kingdom of Kent prior to the Norman invasion of England.

The evolution of Governance & Ethics

Blg: The Evolution of Ethics. A brief outline of the evolution of ethical thinking. 

Blg: The Origins of Integrity.  Integrity is a martial word that comes to us from an ancient Roman army tradition.. 

Art: The Origins of Governance. The roots of governance and governing.

Blg: Governance and the Magna Carta. The role of the Magna Carta in defining governance principles. 
Art: Project Governance & Control, The Building of the Crystal Palace. This article discusses the governance processes used to oversight the construction of the Crystal Palace in 1851 and is subsequent sale and relocation.

Blg: The PMP® Examination is 30 years old.  The early days of the PMBOK® Guide and the PMP Examination through to 2014.     

Blg: The PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition and its consequences.  The evolution of the PMBOK and the PMP exam through to the publication of the 6th Edition in Q3 2017.  

History of Project Controls

PP: A Brief History of Scheduling. This paper tracks the development of scheduling from the emergence of 'bar charts' at the end of the 18th Century through to present times and looks at the way the evolving technology has changed the way projects are scheduled and managed.  Art: A Brief History of Scheduling (short summary)

The 1910 Schürch barchart referenced in the 'History of Scheduling' paper: These are fully developed, sophisticated project control tools in use many years before the work of Henry Gantt was published.
PPThe Origins of Bar Charting.
This paper looks at the ancient Greek and Egyptian origins of the concepts used by both Priestly and Playfair as a starting point to develop their charts which in turn led to the development of the modern bar chart by the late 1800s.

Art: The origins of PERT and CPM.  Research into the origins of the mathematics and drawing styles used in PERT and critical path schedules.  See below for specific sections on CPM, PDM and PERT.  

Prs: Seeing the Road Ahead - the challenge of communicating schedule data. (This presentation will be developed into a full paper) The presentation looks at the challenges faced by project controls professionals, both in the past and present times, to communicate sophisticated information to other members of the project team and their stakeholders and some of the tools and processes they used.

Blg: Predicting Completion.  When did managers start using data to calculate project completion times and costs?  It would appear to be a development of the 1950s.

Blg: The three phases of project controls. The reactive, empirical and predictive phases of project controls (see also Predicting Completion). 

Art: The Origins of Hammocks and Ladders. Hammock and Ladders are activity types that were developed in the period 1961 to 1965. This paper outlines the development of these useful scheduling assets an differentiates Hammocks from LOE and Summary activities.

The story of Micro Planner - one of the first scheduling tools developed for personal (micro) computers: see the timeline

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Henry L Gantt (and why bar charts are not 'Gantt Charts')

PP: Henry L. Gantt - A Retrospective view of his work  
The importance of Henry Gantt to the development of project management and modern business management cannot be understated. This paper traces his life’s work and contributions whilst debunking the myth that Henry Gantt developed bar charts. Henry Gantt deserves to be famous for the right reasons.
Henry Gantt's books (available for download - large PDFs): Art: Where did the Misuse of the names Gantt and PERT Originate?  This article traces the rise in the misuse of the term 'Gantt Chart' associated with the incorrect designation of a Bar Chart in Microsoft Project as a ‘Gantt Chart’.

See History of Project Controls (above) for information on the origins of Bar Charting and developed practice in the form of the Schürch barchart from 1910.

Critical Path Method

Art: Critical-Path Planning and Scheduling.
James E. Kelly Jr., Morgan R. Walker, Proceedings of the Eastern Joint Computer Conference (USA), 1959. This paper defines the original concepts and calculations used in CPM scheduling. Both CPM and PERT used ADM (Activity-on-Arrow) networks and were developed as mainframe computer applications.

PP: The Origins of CPM, A Personal History.  An in-depth interview in the first person, Kelley J.E. Jr and Walker M.R. pmNetwork Vol III, No. 2, Feb 1989.  PMI, USA.

Precedence Diagramming

Art: A non-computer approach to the critical path method for the construction industry (2nd Ed.).
John W Fondahl,  Stanford, Calif., Dept. of Civil Engineering, Stanford University, 1962. This paper defines the original concepts that lead to the development of the dominant PDM methodology of scheduling we use today.

PPPrecedence diagramming methods origins and early development.  An in-depth interview in the first person, Fondahl, John W.. pmNetwork June 1987.  PMI, USA.


WP: Understanding PERT: This White Paper defines PERT describes its development and clearly delineates the major flaws in its design.

Art: Application of a Technique for Research and Development Program Evaluation: This is the original 1959 paper by D.G. Malcolm, J.H. Roseboom, C.E. Clark, and W. Fazar; defining the PERT calculations, their development and their limitations.

Art: Where did the Misuse of the names Gantt and PERT Originate?  This article traces the rise in the misuse of the term PERT associated with the incorrect designation of a Precedence Diagram in Microsoft Project as a ‘PERT Chart’.

PERT/Cost was a 1962 development of PERT (time) that preceded the introduction of Earned Value. See the: 1964 Evaluation of PERT/Cost.

Related books, and other web sites focused on PM History

PM History Books:
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