The Origins of Schedule Management

FEM MagazineOur peer-reviewed paper, ‘The origins of schedule management: the concepts used in planning, allocating, visualizing and managing time in a project’ has recently published in the ‘Frontiers of Engineering Management’ at:

This paper brings together a number of published articles and other research we’ve undertaken in the last decade or so to present a coherent view of the evolution of project scheduling in a format that can be used by other Academics.  It is also aimed at correcting many of the commonly held misconceptions around this topic.

The concepts used for project schedule management have very deep roots; getting the right people in the right place at the right time to accomplish an objective has been a major organizational challenge for at least 3000 years! In ancient times this process seems to have been based on the scheme of arrangements being contained in the leader’s mind and instructions communicated verbally. Modern approaches to solving the twin challenges of first thinking through the ‘plan’ and then communicating the plan to the people who need to do ‘the right work, at the right time, in the right place’ use sophisticated graphics, charts, diagrams, and computations, but the problem and challenges are the same.

This paper traces the development of the concepts most project managers take for granted including bar charts and critical path schedules from their origins (which are far earlier than most people think) through to the modern day. The first section of the paper looks at the development of concepts that allow the visualization of time and other data. The second looks at the shift from static representations to dynamic modelling through the emergence of computers, dynamic calculations and integrated data from the 1950s to the present time.

You can download an augmented version of the paper from:

5 responses to “The Origins of Schedule Management

  1. Very well written paper!! Thanks to the two of you!!

    Did you also submit this to the Guild as a reference to their CaR? If not, please consider doing so.

    Another comment on Figure 10. You may find this paper written by one of my Guild certification students to be of some interest to you? Compare your Figure 10 with Steve’s figure 7…

    Keep up the great research and writing…

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  2. PS Pat Weaver, one clarification that you should make. At the bottom of page 18, you failed to reference AACE, which was formed in 1956. While the name was associated with “cost engineers” or “engineering economists” the fundamental responsibilities included what is more commonly known as “project controls”, which includes CPM scheduling.

    Small point but if you do update it your paper, would be good to include.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  3. Included 🙂 Definitely a case of the effect leading the cause……

  4. I down loaded and read thru your new paper.  I was very surprised you did not include Planalog. It was a major success in resource scheduling esp. on maintenance outage project in electric utilities, petrochemical plants and nuclear refuelings. It was physical like a bar chart but with fences that made it CPM. It was easy to use and very visible for manual workers in the trades.  Saving one week of time in a 7 week outage could save a million dollars of power purchased elsewhere. The key which the academics never understood was the visual interface with the workers who needed to keep adjusting schedules and resource use as they ran into unexpected problems taking a whole plant apart. We had hundreds of successes with big companies before the development of computer products who could do the whole Planalog job digitally and graphically.   

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