Project management has been occurring since the earliest recorded periods of civilization. The evolution of project management is due to more recent changes into a global capitalist based system. In these systems, new products and process will require careful monitoring as they may decide the fate of a company. Hence, the birth of the current Project Manager is one in which the individual is tasked with oversight and must be dubbed as an SME.
When one considers the role of a project manager, a vision is presented in which a middle-management individual is tasked with the responsibility of oversight for the development or progression of a particular product and/or process. In most cases this is true but it is noted that the project manager must have more than just the “high-level” point of view for the product or process that he or she is tasked with, for oversight. A brief history of project management indicates that this role has been present in civilized society from the point of inception.
Hence, as settlers, traders, marketers, and producers of various products were making or delivering their service, the task required one or more individuals to have oversight and a Project Manager is born. An assessment of more recent history (mid-1950’s) demonstrates that the role of the Project Manager underwent a major paradigm shift. During the period of industrialization the label of “Project Manager” was created and assigned in a formal manner (Azzopardi, 2015). As companies grew to take advantage of emerging local and international markets businesses required greater control over the new tasks that must be monitored with the keen eye of an expert. The new project managers began developing processes for tracking a projects progress and for ensuring that the project remained within budget and employees were motivated to perform. In addition, more structured tools were developed that allowed the project manager to exercise a more enhanced role. The main tasks of a project manager also became more defined, such that a project manager should: (1) Initiate the development of a project, (2) Chart its progress, (3) Ensure that all necessary components are available for successful development, (4) Motivate employees to stay on the timeline and path, and finally (6) to determine when a project was completed and what would be the subsequent requirements (Brown, 2013).
The association for project management defines the term as: The application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives (APM, 2015). In layman’s terms a
In summary, project management is no new concept. Humans have been managing major undertakings and tracking the output of process since the early Egyptian times (Azzopardi, 2015). The period of industrialization created a formal term for the job and introduced new tools to ensure that high-level and high-budget projects (which often decided the fate of a company), had the proper oversight by an expert. The key elements of a project manager is not one in which the individual must only monitor. There will be times in a project lifecycle where the manager must perform lower-level tasks, and in most cases the project manager must at least review the tasks performed for accuracy. The project manager is therefore required to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the corresponding task.