Even though construction project management can trace its origins to thousands of years ago, most of the tools used by the managers in the modern construction projects have been developed majorly over the last century.
In ancient times, the first reference to project construction management has been traced back to the construction of two most important historical structures – the Egyptian Pyramids and the Great Wall of China. The project managers had implemented rudimentary efforts on order to maintain the workforce output, besides making back up plans and solutions in anticipation of problems as well delays. Coordinated construction on such a large scale required the usage of primary workflow management tools, even in that era.
Industrial Revolution: Railroad Construction
Project management came to be defined in a more refine manner after the United States started working on the development of the railroad system after the end of the Civil War. With the increase in the complexity of this country wide project, it became utmost necessary for the planners to develop as well as employ various project management techniques to manage the rapid industrial development. Even though project tracking had yet to be developed in a systematic manner, the supply chain management of the raw materials had became an integral part of the construction engineers, who were also forced to double up as managers, given the enormity of project management responsibilities.
At the turn of the 20th century, Henry Gantt developed the Gantt Chart, which has ever since served as the centerpiece of modern project management. It utilizes a series of specific events which are arranged in a timeline fashion in order to enable end-to-end project tracking. Each and every event gives a detailed description and the planned duration of the same. It can be used by managers to manage the actual timing vis-à-vis the projected timing, as well as plan in advance for the tasks which are time sensitive.
Critical Path Method & PERT Chart
E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. and Remington Rand developed CPM in the 1950s in order to identify the tasks which form a part of the critical path. This aids the planners in predicting the project duration by analyzing the activity sequence which has the least flexibility. PERT, developed by the US Navy independently, also aids in analyzing the critical timing.
Developed in the 1980s, this software development tool gained favor within the area of project management techniques as it helped in breaking the task into smaller units, which further enabled a better control of the construction project timings as well as reduction in the number of bottleneck delays.