How Project Management Came To Be

Project Managers and Project Management tools have both evolved, adapted, and changed over the course of the past handful of decades out of necessity, given the rate of technological advancements met with cultural expectations. However, Project Management in itself has been around since the early 1900s as projects evolved that needed a specialized skill set to meet the demands and requirements for the nuanced organizational structure a project was developed under. The skill set generally expected of such a role involves the ability to self-govern, organize, stay driven, as well as self-motivate in order to stay on top of a multiplicity of projects that require for him/ her to control the budget, human capital, communications between teams/client, and manage both resources and relationships appropriately. This position, being immersed in the thick of the internal company culture all while being in direct communication with clients, provides a unique angle to propose innovative opportunities. However, this was not always the case as the role and business model has changed tremendously from what it use to be.

Before going any further, it is important to speak to the distinct form of Project Management that is being discussed. While Project Management in itself – the role of managing “projects” – has been around for many centuries, Systematic Project Management techniques that led to the development of the project management role, often discussed today, has been developing, more or less, over the past 60 years. The development of such techniques has paralleled the development of business/organizational structures. As businesses moved out of the traditional leadership directive model of having all in-house employees following a strict line of command, into a more recursive lateral or matrix structure of shared and/or multiple points of contact for directorship, Project Management has become more autonomous in nature, and self-directive; requiring a sense of intrapeneurship. However, once again let me take one step back to discuss a little more about how it managed to get from point A to B.

While there is a lot of speculation of when the modern Project Management era began, there is general consensus that it arose sometime after WWII between 1940s – 1958. It was in 1958 that CPM/PERT was first developed. Project Management in this era established out of an increase of efficiency. As speed of communication and transportation increased, more work was getting done at a faster pace. Therefore, there was a need for more practical organization in regards to what was getting done and how, along with what resources were utilized to accomplish it. During WWII Project Management came into play in regards to the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. It was at this point a role needed to be created to coordinate government-sponsored projects, along with tracking the resources and development of the project.

Between the years of 1958-1979 there were very computer-specific technological advancements that emerged. It was during this era, as mentioned above, that CPM/PERT Project Management tool was founded, and well as MRP (Material Requirement Planning). Organizations that used these systems hired people, who were to eventually evolve into the title of project managers, as specialists to operate such tools as “brokers of information”. In 1958, when NASA was created, and missions were led to explore space, a program office role was created that delineated what a project manager-type position entailed, which included maintenance, scheduling, contracting, developing protocols for performance, and focus. This followed the founding of some of the first Project Management software companies in the 70’s – Oracle, Artemis, Scitor Corp.

The IT sector revolution took off in the 80’s, eventually demanding people to multitask on personal computers. The development of the personal computer, away from the mainframe computer system, made Project Management techniques more accessible, allowing the role to be considered by individuals who were not only computer engineers. As company culture and organization dynamics began to play even more important role in team cohesion and project oversight, Project Management became essential for solidifying goals, costs, schedules, metrics and communication.

The efficiency of the internet enhanced the need for not only Project Management skills but flexibility in those skills, in effort to be adaptable to the increased diversity that was experienced with the advent of the internet. With the adoption of internet technology for Project Management tools, creating virtual and web-based project offices, managing and controlling teams as well as projects became that more productive. Today Project Management continues to be ever more demanding requiring versatility and the ability to manage multiple moving parts at once, with success. Fortunately, with the plethora of PM tools available these days, no one has to do it on there own.

The Ashley Madison scandal, a violation and a reminder about security

Password cracking has become somewhat of a modern day past time, given the advancements that have been made in technology. Specifically, in the past five years there have been more privacy and password breaches than in the previous handful of decades combined. That is an exponential increase that makes us all exponentially at risk. Something that has paralleled this increase has been password reuse, which unfortunately correlates with network vulnerability.

Privacy and security on the internet have been two of the main themes passed around in discourse regarding the internet and personal identity for sometime now. This discussion has had a resurgence recently due to the Ashley Madison password crack, where a sophisticated group of hackers known as the Impact Team broke into the website that connects married individuals with others seeking extramarital sexual engagement and exposed all the user’s private information to the world. Now, this scenario obviously is a breeding ground for public shamming, as well as philosophical disputes regarding the principles of cause and effect. However, the focus of this article will not be on moral code, given the internet already consists of copious articles that ridicules and denigrates many of these innocent people who simply were engaging in their birth right – Freedom of Choice. Sure, if I wanted to I could bring out an alternative lens that would discuss a belief that takes into consideration an invisible specter world at work with the Ashly Madison scandal, a world riddled with unknowns and mystical oversight that provides an unspoken esoteric “checks and balance system”. However, these angles would position me on a pretty rocky soap box that I don’t feel at all privy to. Because at the end of the day, the truth of the matter is, when speaking in terms of legality and not subjective ethical positioning, all 37 million of these users who were exposed were indeed violated. Hands down. The bigger matter at hands here, which in fact more of the conversations on the internet should be tilted toward, is privacy and how to further protect our online identity.

The most important piece of information that has come out of this virtual scandal, which seems can’t be reiterated enough, is a problem that has already been discussed ad nauseam – password reuse. Really, perhaps we should all think about our passwords as condemns – use them once, never share with others, and when you do throw them out make sure they aren’t visible to the naked eye – bury or destroy them. Time and time again, albeit the millions of people being concerned about identity fraud, internet users still seem to be in constant denial that their accounts could be at risk. Using the same password over and over again for each and every online account is simply asking to be violated. Whether it be an Ashley Madison, Bank of America, or Facebook site, most people tend to believe themselves to be excluded from the rational of password variation, believing that, for some reason, they are immune to being hacked. The fact of the matter is, it’s simply not the case. Hackers do not discriminate, because if they can do it, they will. Point. Blank. So until everyone has thumb-print-protected passwords on their MAC and PC laptops, it would be a good idea to never use the same password for another site, in addition to constantly updating passwords on all accounts every 30 days.

Here are some tips for creating hard-to-crack passwords:

1) Never use your name or the word “password”. Basically, don’t be a nincompoop.

2) In fact, don’t use words at all. Words are universally ubiquitous, be more cryptic.

3) Always use at least eight characters or more. The longer, the more variations that need to be tried, meaning the more difficult to decode.

4) Contain characters that include numbers, capital letters, and multiple symbols from the top portion of the key board.

5) Completely go wild on your keyboard to come up with something entirely new and obscure. The only trick is, retaining it.

And remember, you don’t have to abide by the way of the technocrat. There is always the way of the luddite.

Jira vs. PivotalTracker

Looking for the perfect tool to run your scrum projects? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you. There are many tools out there, however, and each one of them have pros and cons. One thing I can do is go over two of the tools I have used, which hopefully could help you narrow down your search.

Let’s start with pricing. While each of the tools I have used come out to that exact same price for 15, 25, and 50 users, Jira would cost significantly less for up to 10 users. I would like to mention that Jira also offers a cloud version and server version (which, you host yourself). However, with that being said, this comparison is only for the cloud version. The big plus I see here is that with Jira you get the Agile tool,in addition to the bug tracking tool. With PivotalTracker, you only get an Agile tool.

UX. Each have pretty nice UX, but PivotalTracker may be a bit simpler, which could get the user “up-and-running” in less time than Jira. Jira has many more features and if you are trying to learn all of them, then you might just be looking at a few weeks worth of learning.

Customization. They both have customization options. Once again, this could turn into weeks of learning with Jira. Contrarily, PivotalTracker is far more limiting on what can be customized.

Reports. They both offer burndown charts, velocity charts, and historical trends. Jira also offers an estimation chart. While PivotalTracker does not offer estimation charts, I do not find this to be very important. All you need to do is know the total amount of story points, your team velocity, and sprints length to figure out your deadlines.

Task assignment. PivotalTracker offers multiple members assignment, while Jira only allows one user per task. Depending on your workflow, this may be a problem.

Administration effort. Big companies tend to create the roll of Jira administrator. This is one person that deals with Jira 100% of their working hours. This means that if you are working with large scale projects, things can get a bit hairy in Jira.

So what do we take away from all this? I will leave the decision up to you, however I believe that for smaller (strictly scrum tracking) size projects, PivotalTracker may be a better  scrum tool option. For large scale projects (multiple teams or enterprise type situations) Jira may in fact hold the crown.

Here is a quick comparison chart:

Jira vs. PivotalTracker

Jira

PivotalTracker

Web-based
 √  √
Mobil app
   
API
   
Multi-user
 X  
User roles
   X
Notifications
   
Milestone Tracking
 X  √
Gantt Charts
   X
Cost Tracking
   X
Kamban support
   X
Custom Fields
   X