IPM101 - Reflection on the history and future of project management

Review this dynamic time line depicting the history of project management published by Project Smart.

Consider the following questions:

  1. What do you think is the most significant milestone for project management? Why?
  2. What do you think is the most important challenge for the future of project management? Why?

Log in and share your thoughts on these questions by clicking the “Reply” link and joining the discussion.

What do you think is the most significant milestone for project management? Why?

Before this question is tackled, it is important to define the term “milestone” or “project milestone”. A milestone is a specific point in time within a project lifecycle used to measure the progress of a project toward its ultimate goal. Milestones are tools used in project management to mark specific points along a project timeline

A project milestone is a management tool that is used to describe a point in a project schedule. Milestones can be used to symbolize anything that has started or finished.

A Project milestone is a task of a zero duration that shows an important achievement in a project. A milestone is a reference point that marks a major event or decision point within a project.

Milestones provide us with a kind of yardstick, a kind of measurement that serves as tools to keep an eye on the progress of the project

Why is a milestone important?

A milestone is important because it helps with scheduling when starting a project or an activity. They help in estimating the accurate time the project will be completed. it also helps in indicating the deadlines of the deliverables that are needed to be done. Milestones help the project manager to know how the project is advancing.

Milestones works as markers of project progress and are used in project planning, scheduling, communication and reporting. They indicate the significant starting dates and completion dates.


Jason Westland (2018) what are milestone in project management?


John, Spacey. 2016. 12 Examples of Project Milestones. Simplicable, January 28. https://simplicable.com/new/project-milestones.

Hi @misheckmutuzana

Thanks for your contribution - that’s a good overview of what a project milestone is in project management. Thanks for sharing!

Apology for the confusion - the intended question for this forum is to reflect on what you think the most significant event was in the history of project management. The idea is to identify an event in the timeline you feel is significant and to share you reasons why you selected this event.

Good luck with the rest of your studies!

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What do you think is the most significant milestone for project management?

1987: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Published by PMI.

The development of the PMBOK in 1987. Because it sought to bring practical knowledge from many different people and project activities not only into one document but create a point of reference for the experience and novice who were entering the field. It was a document that provided transformative energy.

What do you think is the most important challenge for the future of project management?

The Green revolution and Globalization, which encompass several elements but I would like to highlight speed, cost, culture, political policies. While globalization presents many great opportunities it also presents many great, let me not say problems, but complexities which I would mention again highlight speed, cost, culture, political policies, and environmental procurement.


I think you’re right - promoting and ensuring sustainable business practices will become increasingly important in the future.

Thanks for sharing!

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I’m not really well versed in project management theory so I can only say what seems important so far! I loved Beers application of cybernetics to management post WW2 and I think that managing complex systems like firms could be really well served with that kind of approach.

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The next section is making me vaguely uncomfortable from the get go, wouldn’t a project such as the Apollo program or the Great Wall of China have been better executed if they had not been understood as having definite ending points? I feel like efficiency gains could have been made for instance with a carry on of the infrastructure for both in future activity, even where the managers of the projects didn’t plan beyond the end of their “projects” I am sure rocket tooling equipment, transport equipment, reconnaissance units, and the machinery of the projects generally continued operating beyond the end of “the project”. That is both for the original purpose of said projects, reinforcing wall segments or redirecting invading forces using the same logistical systems, or engineering fresh space fairing efforts using the same staff for example, and also for “novel” purposes that can make use of the same investments.

Setting definite boundaries seems to make it “easier” in one sense but in many cases might actually be more expensive than a more holistic approach.

Hi @xraggamuffin

These are good questions and reflections - thanks for sharing.

Consider for example that many public funded infrastructure “projects” like building a new bridge or hospital typically exceed initial budget predictions in the media. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, but one important dimension is political, i.e. promoting buy-in from the community. Sometimes the “soft issues” like community support, could be more important than accurate project management budget predictions.

In other spheres like free and open source software development, there are real differences in approach compared to commercial software development projects (see for example The Cathedral and the Bazaar . Open source development tends to be more incremental and agile, i.e. rather than working from a “master plan” (to build the Cathedral). However, within larger open source project developments, sub-components utilize more traditional project planning methodologies.

The definition of project management, in this context requires, for example fixed start and end dates, defined outputs etc. Without these boundaries, “project management” is not possible. So I think its about context - Are we talking about project management in the context of the discipline of project management, or are we talking about projects in other contexts?

I do agree with your thinking that pre-defined outputs constrain innovation. I don’t think the vision of landing the first humans on the Moon would not have materialized if the entire mission was orchestrated using the PMBOK handbook, but individual components of the larger vision benefited from efficient project management practices.

Keen to hear your thoughts!

  1. 1969: Project Management Institute (PMI) launched to promote the Project Management profession.

I believe this is a milestone because this is when the profession gained recognition, which means a formal body to protect people working as project managers were established.
2. With increased globalization so doe technology which will take up a lot of people’s jobs, reducing the need for some professions. For example, there might be a need for only one central person to make sure that the systems are set-up properly to let them run on their own managing a project.

1917: The Gantt chart Developed by Henry Gantt (1861-1919)
I consider the creation of the Gantt chart as the most significant milestone for project management as I is still an important and widely used tool by Project Managers even others professionals.

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A milestone is a specific point within a project’s life cycle used to measure the progress toward the ultimate goal. Milestones in project management are used as signal posts for a project’s start or end date, external reviews or input, budget checks, submission of a major deliverable, etc.
A milestone is a marker in a project that signifies a change or stage in development. Milestones are powerful components in project management because they show key events and map forward movement in your project plan. Milestones act as signposts through the course of your project, helping ensure you stay on track.

Attending to projects at times is difficult and mostly I seek help from my colleague’s.

To me, open source’s greatest advantage is “permissionless innovation” - literally anyone with an interest can improve the software from their perspective and one person improving it one way doesn’t stop anyone else from taking it in a different direction they find useful. This rapid evolutionary process results either in aggregation of non-contradictory improvements or functionally useful ‘speciation’, where incompatible changes lead to 2 pieces of different software that share a common underlying historical code base. To me, this is vastly more efficient than the proprietary “invest in tightly held proprietary software” winner-take-all model where most competitors fail and represent a huge waste of social resources. The one who succeeds gains an unassailable network effect (a local monopoly) and eventually stagnates due to lack of competition, while creating huge inequity by reaping all the rewards.

The practice of building software on top of open source building blocks - now the prevalent approach to software development - fundamentally changes the project management considerations in the software industry…

Thanks for sharing.
Milestone is actually knowing by when the project will be completed. It’s worth as time frame is worked out and work completion will not be affected. At times sharing is necessary to be in time.

project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. Some of its key components include project goals, timeline, project milestones, budget, and scope.

With so many “moving parts” in a project, how do managers oversee the project effectively?

As it is rightly quoted by Vincent Van Gogh that- “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things bought together.”

It is essential to review the project’s progress at various stages, and milestones are created as per the project requirement. They are the critical checkpoints that assure the concerned stakeholders that the project progresses as per the plan. From the ⁶cheatsheet-achieve-project-managers-career-goals-objectives/) perspective, project milestones can be considered as mini projects with their own deliverables.

IPM101, a course that delves into the history and future of project management, encourages students to reflect on the evolution of project management practices and its anticipated trajectory. Here’s a reflection on these aspects:

Reflection on the History of Project Management:

Understanding the history of project management provides valuable insights into the origins and development of the discipline. Project management has evolved significantly over the years, transitioning from simple task management to a comprehensive and systematic approach. Looking back, it’s fascinating to see how project management practices have been influenced by various industries and fields, such as engineering, construction, and information technology.

Historical milestones, such as the construction of large-scale projects like the pyramids and cathedrals, reveal the rudimentary foundations of project management. With industrialization came the need for more structured approaches, leading to the development of methodologies like Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) during the mid-20th century. These methodologies marked a shift towards quantitative analysis and project scheduling.

The advent of computer technology further revolutionized project management, giving rise to tools and software that streamline planning, monitoring, and control. The 21st century has witnessed the expansion of project management beyond traditional industries, with Agile methodologies emerging to address the dynamic and rapidly changing nature of modern projects.

Reflection on the Future of Project Management:

Looking ahead, the future of project management promises to be exciting and transformative. Several trends are likely to shape the landscape:

  1. Technology Integration: Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics will play a pivotal role in enhancing project management. AI-driven insights will aid in risk assessment, decision-making, and resource optimization.
  2. Remote Collaboration: The rise of remote work and virtual teams will necessitate tools and practices that facilitate seamless collaboration across geographical boundaries.
  3. Agile and Hybrid Approaches: Organizations will continue to adopt Agile methodologies and hybrid approaches to adapt to fast-paced changes and customer demands. Flexibility and adaptability will remain crucial.
  4. Sustainability and Ethics: Project managers will need to incorporate sustainability and ethical considerations into project planning and execution, aligning with global environmental and social goals.
  5. Soft Skills: As automation takes care of routine tasks, soft skills such as emotional intelligence, communication, and leadership will become more important for project managers to navigate complex human interactions.
  6. Continuous Learning: The rapidly evolving landscape will require project managers to engage in continuous learning to stay updated with the latest practices, tools, and trends.
  7. Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: Project management will increasingly intersect with fields like psychology, design thinking, and behavioral economics to better understand stakeholder dynamics and optimize project outcomes.

In conclusion, reflecting on the history and future of project management provides a comprehensive view of how the discipline has evolved and where it’s headed. The journey from rudimentary methods to sophisticated practices reflects the ever-changing nature of projects and their management. As technology continues to advance and global challenges evolve, project managers must remain adaptable and embrace innovation to ensure successful project outcomes in the years to come.