The History of Project Management and Predictions for the Future

On Captera, July 13, 2017

Project manager became a recognized position

Zucker of Project Management Essentials recalls his start in project management, which had very little to do with becoming a designated project manager:

In 1987, I started what would become my career in project management…I was, what we would now call, the product owner, the business analyst, and the project manager.

But, as Zucker points out, project manager was still not a recognized career path.

In 1987, there were ‘project managers,’ but we did not have the systematized processes, procedures, and tools that we do today. Most of us were self-taught, having wandered into project management from another profession.

Now, there is an entire industry built around project manager training and certification. Why? Being a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) can be a lucrative and rewarding career.
According to Zucker:

Even though the Project Management Institute was founded in 1969, the first certification exam was given to 43 people in 1986. Now there are nearly 750,000 certified PMPs…PMI now offers 8 different types of project management credential, from risk to Agile to program management. There are also 136 graduate programs that confer a master’s degree in project management.

As it turns out, all that training became important as the projects and people that PMs managed were altered by technological advances.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I think that Zucker summed it up best when he reflected back on his years as a project manager, and contemplated the future of the industry:

I was initially attracted to project management because you could see the tangible fruits of your labors—a completed and hopefully successful project. Over the years, the processes and techniques have changed some. But project management is still a dynamic and fascinating profession… it is great to be part of industry that is always striving for more.

Change can be scary. The future can be scary. But if you’re a veteran project manager, or just getting your start in the industry, take solace. The world will always need project managers—whether it’s for building railroads or spaceships—and project managers will always find a way to adapt, because that’s what you do.