Project management is such an interesting and broad-ranging topic. The fundamentals of this skill have been around since man first decided to make fire somewhere in the range of 400,000 to 1.5 million years ago.

Organization, and the ability to plan and execute a project that takes deadlines and the concept of trial and error into account (and the ability to learn from failures) is one we all need to employ in our day to day.

Retro project management ways

Project management: Times are always a changing

The infographic below sums up the evolution of project management fairly accurately, from the birth of the concept in business and industry, to the complex software-reliant “career” it’s become.

Project Management Then & Now
Infographic brought to you by Wrike free web based project management software

Modern project managers are professionals with years of experience, generally educated in one facet of business or the other at the college level, and a proven track record of successful and diverse project completions throughout their careers.

As noted in the infographic, when project management first became a “thing” in business, manufacturing and the service industry, it was a responsibility often put on the employee completing a given project to organize and execute perfectly.

As times went on, project/task managers were brought in to manage an undertaking from concept, to execution, and finally completion. These folks would have personalities ranging from the slave-driving type, to outright “people-pleasers” who knew how to use the reward system to drive a project forward.

Soft skills are much more important in modern project management

A shift has happened moving into the digital age with respect to project management. Whereas in the past, strict deadlines and meticulous processes were employed by project managers to get the job done, now flexibility and cloud-based tools are taking over the space.

While steadfast adherence to the “process” was once essential to success, collaboration and organisation software have allowed humans working together on a project to come full circle and work together with minimal confusion, and far less mental effort. This reduces the resultant exhaustion that proceeds a difficult project’s completion.

This allows for soft skills such as leadership abilities, collaboration, and flexibility and adaptability to enter into project management scenarios. The adaptation of the cloud has made managing projects much less expensive, as cloud-based tools can be purchased inexpensively compared to local software install CDs of old days. Cloud-based storage and data processing tasks mean less stress is placed on expensive office hardware such as PCs and servers, too.

Team members don’t have to occupy the same office space anymore

The modern concept of remote team members working together and “telecommuting” via the Internet and telephone makes it possible to actually get more work done. In the days of old, workers would have to commute to a centrally-located office to work together.

Now, with the aforementioned collaboration software advances and cloud storage, project management has changed drastically. Technology has made it possible for managers and their subordinates to work together seamlessly, regardless of where in the world they’re located.

Software and email mean that people can work toward an end goal together even if they’re not working together at the same time (Ie., time zones).

Clunky “office” meetings are no longer necessary to move a project forward

Internet, cloud and mobile technology, and their related productivity and project management apps make it possible for real-time notifications about a project or related task’s status to be instant. Morning meetings are still necessary at times, but they needn’t be as detail-intensive as they were in the pre-digital age. This is because brainstorming and problem solving can be done on-the-fly rather than through exhaustive, time-wasting meetings.

Takeaway

Everyone reading this is encouraged to read through Wrike’s insightful infographic explaining how project management has changed and evolved through the years. It’s very interesting, and many will find some measure of nostalgia in comparing how clumsily we once navigated task and project completion.

Project management has become a career in the modern era, rather than a task charged to the employees actually doing the project, or a hand-picked member of the team being tasked with overseeing a project’s completion — whether they had formal training or not.

My… how times have changed!