Project management

the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time

Project management is the management discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling projects and other resources to achieve specific goals.

The real key to effective project management is the project network chart. No amount of bells and whistles can compensate for an inefficiently constructed project network.
- Lee Harris, 1986



Ancient history

  • Excellent actions must be good in themselves and good and noble.
    • Attributed to Aristotle (384-322 BC) in: Joanne B. Ciulla (2004) Ethics, The Heart Of Leadership. p. 22
  • For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.
    • Attributed to Aristotle (384-322 BC) by Diogenes Laërtius; cited in: James Taylor (2006) A survival guide for project managers. p. 193
For the beginning is thought to be more than half the whole.
- Aristotle
  • Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
    • Aristotle (384-322 BC) cited in: Lia Tjahjana, Paul Dwyer, Moshin Habib (2009) The Program Management Office Advantage. p. 97
  • Well begun is half done
    • Attributed to Aristotle in: Kathrin Köster (2009) International Project Management. p. 128
  • You will find your vocation where your talents meet opportunity.
    • Attributed to Aristotle in: Douglas DeCarlo (2010) eXtreme Project Management. p. 56
  • Probable impossibilities have to be preferred to improbable possibilities.
    • Attributed to Aristotle in: K. Ramakrishna (2010) Essentials of. Project Management. p. 92
  • For the beginning is thought to be more than half the whole.
    • Aristotle Ethics. Book 1 - 1C4; cited in: Peter W. G. Morris, Jeffrey K. Pinto, Jonas Söderlund (2011) The Oxford Handbook of Project Management. In modern language Aristotle here wrote that "Defining the question is half the answer".

20th century



  • Project engineering is the business of building plants — from the preliminary study through the design, procurement, erection and trial operation. It is a problem in management and a business in itself, with its own procedures and its own opportunities for blunder and oversight by the inexperienced...
    Medium and small size process industry firms almost always, and the all largest sometimes, find it necessary and profitable to engage the service of outside engineers to help with their projects. Project management is the very business of the consulting and engineering company just as the manufacture and sale of certain products is the very business of the process industry firm. The consulting and engineering company is constantly engaged in project management on a variety of jobs and is constantly studying and striving to improve its methods; it is but natural that they bring to the project experience, ability and facilities not possessed by the process industry firm. To the latter, the project is an activity incidental to their main goals. Project management is not part of their main business, and they cannot afford to divert their time and attention from their chief responsibilities, where they are efficient, to the specialized job of project management, where they are likely to be inefficient.
    • David Gordon (1950) Article "Project Engineering". In: Chemical engineering (1950) Vol 57, Nr 3-4. p. 125-126
  • The accuracy of estimates is a function of the stage of development (i.e. estimates improve as development of the item progress). This also means that estimates for development projects representing only 'modest advances' tend to be better than for more ambitious projects.
  • Project management is becoming more important as equipment, systems, and projects become more complex.
    • Bud Porter-Roth (1955) Proposal Development. p. 3-9
  • The classical vertical arrangement for project management is characterized by an inherent self-sufficiency of operation. It has within its structure all the necessary specialized skills to provide complete engineering capabilities and it also has the ability to carry on its own laboratory investigations, preparation of drawings, and model or prototype manufacture.
    • Penton Publishing Company, Cleveland (1955) Automation. Vol 2. (March 1955) p. 52


  • If a given task depends on the completion of other assignments in other functional areas, and if it will, in turn, affect the cost or timing of subsequent tasks, project management is probably called for
    • American Management Association (1966) Management Review. January 1966, p. 63
  • The difficulty in project management is how to apply competition between task efforts and between subtask efforts when such things as the task managers' work, schedules, and budgets are all different. Competition is apparent at only the grossest level, between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.; and this competition is too removed, too broad, and full of too many unknown factors to provide an effective day by day incentive to all project personnel.
    • John Stanley Baumgartner (1963) Project management. p. 86
  • The project manager’s staff should be qualified to provide personal administrative and technical support. He should have sufficient authority to increase or decrease his staff as necessary throughout the life of the project. This authorization should include selective augmentation for varying periods of time from the supporting functional areas.
    • David I. Cleland (1964). "Why Project Management," Business Horizons, Spring, 1964 p. 85
  • Basic to successful project management is recognizing when the project is needed — in other words, when to form a project, as opposed to when to use the regular functional organization to do the job. At what point in time do the changes in
    • David I. Cleland and William R. King (1968) Systems Analysis and Project Management. New York: mcgraw-Hill, p. 154
  • In many ways, project management is similar to functional or traditional management. The project manager, however, may have to accomplish his ends through the efforts of individuals who are paid and promoted by someone else in the chain of command. The pacing factor in acquiring a new plant, in building a bridge, or in developing a new product is often not technology, but management. The technology to accomplish an ad hoc project may be in hand but cannot be put to proper use because the approach to the management is inadequate and unrealistic. Too often this failure can be attributed to an attempt to fit the project to an existing management organization, rather than molding the management to fit the needs of the project. The project manager, therefore, is somewhat of a maverick in the business world. No set pattern exists by which he can operate. His philosophy of management may depart radically from traditional theory.
    • David I. Cleland, William Richard King (1969) Systems, organizations, analysis, management: a book of readings. p. 7
  • Project management is needed only for situations which are out of the ordinary; but when the need exists, this may often be the only way by which the task may be handled successfully. These situations require a different attitude on the part of the top management, the undivided attention of a project manager and different methods for control and communications than those used in the normal routine business situation...
    Pure project management assigns complete responsibility for the task and resources needed for its accomplishment to one project manager. The organization of a large project, though it will be dissolved upon completion of the task, operates for its duration much like a regular division and is relatively independent of any other division or staff group.
    • Executive Sciences Institute (1964) Operations research/management science. Vol 6. p. 633


  • If a high degree of certainty exists concerning all major events, operations, and outcomes, project management is not essential.
    • John R. Adams, Stephen E. Barndt, Martin D. Martin (1979) Managing by project management. p. 21
  • Project Management is an approach which has been developed and successfully employed for more than a decade to systematically plan and control efforts which have an identifiable end item, the production of which involves complexity, risk and some sort of a fixed deadline.
    • G.F. Blanchard & D.L. Cook (1973) "Project Management and Educational Change" in: The Process of Innovation in Education. L. Lipsitz (Ed.) p. 83
  • Functional people often think that, since project management is primarily an administrative job, loss of a highly technical man to that organization is a loss of resources to the company.
    • Raymond Hill, Bernard J. White (1979) Matrix organization & project management. p. 295
Project managers may have increasing responsibility, but very little authority.
- Harold Kerzner (1979)
  • The project manager’s job is not an easy one. Project managers may have increasing responsibility, but very little authority. This lack of authority can force them to “negotiate” with upper-level management as well as functional management for control of company resources. They may often be treated as outsiders by the formal organization.
    • Harold Kerzner (1979) Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling' 'p. 10 (2e ed. 1984)
  • Project management is distinguished from production management primarily by the non-repetitive nature of the work denned as a project.
    • Joseph Moder and Cecil Phillips cited in: Industrial engineering & management (1970). Vol 5-8. p. 29
  • Project management is clearly a part of software engineering, and its effective employment plays a major role in reducing the problems associated with delivering software within estimated time and cost.
    • Richard H. Thayer, John H. Lehman (1977) Software Engineering Project Management


  • Project management is not universally applicable. The utility of the idea depends on the magnitude of the effort, the complexity, the degree of unfamiliarity and interrelatedness, and the concern with the organization's reputation.
    • David I. Cleland, William Richard King (1983) Systems analysis and project management. p. 263
  • The real key to effective project management is the project network chart. No amount of bells and whistles can compensate for an inefficiently constructed project network.
    • Lee Harris in: InfoWorld, 27 okt 1986. Vol. 8, nr. 43. p. 42
  • Generally, project management is distinguished from the general management of corporations by the mission- oriented nature of a project. A project organization will generally be terminated when the mission is accomplished
    • Chris Hendrickson, Tung Au (1989) Project management for construction. p.
  • Today, the concept behind project management is being applied in such diverse industries and organizations as defense, construction, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, banking, hospitals, accounting, advertising, law, state and local governments, and the United Nations.
  • In the past few years, it has been recognized that project management is an identifiable profession — or job category, if you like — requiring specific skills, training, knowledge and even cultivated personality traits.
    • Micheal Marcus in: Computerworld, 12 okt 1981. Vol. 15, nr. 41. p. 45
  • Project management is one of those applications that everyone knows someone else should be using.
    • Michael J. Miller (1988) in: InfoWorld, 18 april 1988. Vol. 10, nr. 16. p. 64
  • Project management is one of those applications everyone talks about but not too many people use.
    • Michael J. Miller (1988) in: InfoWorld, 15 aug 1988. Vol. 10, nr. 33. p. 48
  • A fundamental yet often overlooked principle of successful project management is that you can't do it alone.
    • W. Alan Randolph and Barry Z. Posner in: The Rotarian. April 1988. Vol. 152, nr. 4. p. 6


  • If a project has not achieved a system architecture, including its rationale, the project should not proceed to full-scale system development. Specifying the architecture as a deliverable enables its use throughout the development and maintenance process.
    • Barry Boehm (1995); quoted in: L. Bass, P. Clements, and R. Kazman (1998) Software Architecture in Practice, Addison Wesley Longman. Chapter 2
  • [P]rojects and project management... encompasses several thousands of years where evidence exists to demonstrate that projects were used to change and advance societies and that some form of project management was needed to ensure favorable conversion of resources to the benefit of these societies...
    For centuries, project management has been used in some rudimentary form to create change or deal with change in societies. Change in a positive sense is caused by the application of management action that results in the consumption of resources to create a desired product, service, or organizational process. Change also may be meeting uncertain situations to identify and implement actions to obtain the most favorable outcome. Project management, in whatever form, has been used for centuries to plan for, implement, and meet change...
    It was the 1950s when project management was formally recognized as a distinct contribution arising from the management discipline. Prior uses of project management had a focus on cost, schedule, and technical performance but lacked the formal definition and embracing of the management concepts and processes in an integrated manner. Since the early 1950s, names and labels have been given to the elements of the project management discipline, helping to facilitate its further development as a profession.
    • David I. Cleland and Lewis R. Ireland (1994) "The Evolution of Project Management" In: Global Project Management Handbook Cleland and Ireland eds. McGraw-Hill
  • An important part of project management is keeping track of thoughts, assumptions, suggestions, limitations, and the myriad related details of the project.
    • InfoWorld. 23 april 1990. Vol. 12, nr. 17. p. 79
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