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An age-old profession: project management

We are all so accustomed to business automation, computerization and constant change that we’ve learned to continuously adapt to new ways of working, and to accept that business will operate differently when the next big innovation comes along. Although it’s difficult to imagine how we did our jobs before laptops, smartphones and email, we succeeded in managing projects with the tools we had at our disposal.

The reality of today’s technologies is that we spend a lot of time in email, Excel, MS Project and PPM systems (such as CA PPM). Much of our workday is spent tracking project progress, weighing and dealing with risks and issues and analyzing actual effort and cost against the plan. But are those activities the heart of project management? To answer that question, we’ll return to the roots of the profession.

The dawn of project management

As with many professions, project management was born of necessity. Its first heartbeats can be found by traveling back 4,500 years to Saqqara, the site of the earliest Egyptian pyramids. As civilizations began to develop and humans learned that they could become better at a craft if they focused on it exclusively, the age of skilled craftsmen started to develop.

One craftsperson working alone was easily manageable. But when many people in a variety of trades teamed up to accomplish a goal – like building a pyramid – coordinating their efforts became complex and...

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