Operations Management as an Asset Delivery Option
This brings us to the third primary delivery option, which is "operations" or product management. Relatively speaking this is the more recent set of processes, which developed during the Industrial Revolution.
"The Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries, was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 1700s, manufacturing was often done in people's homes, using hand tools or basic machines. Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication, and banking."
Figure 12: Image of Assembly Line Workers
What is important about the Industrial Revolution is that many of the tools and techniques we associate with what is now known as "modern project management," actually originated with construction or even project management hundreds if not thousands of years ago. These tools have been further developed and refined for use in an operational environment. This cross-pollination and adaption of tools and techniques is important as it continues today. This is evidenced by the increasing use of modularization in construction, standardization of contract documents (i.e. FIDIC, AIA, EJCDC and Consensus Docs) and the standardization of WBS and CBS structures (i.e. Construction Specifications Institute's "Masterformat" and "Uniformat" which has now grown into "Omniclass").
Leading practitioners and researchers from the mid to late 1800s into the early 1900s such as Henry Fayol, Henry Gantt, Frank and Lillian Gilbreath laid the modern ground-work. In 1909, Halbert Gillette and Richard Dana wrote "Cost Keeping and Management Engineering: A Treatise for Engineers, Contractors and Superintendents Engaged in the Management of Engineering Construction". This work is important as it shows clearly how Earned Value Management evolved and how clearly earned value, "pay for performance" and other incentive programs were linked to the use of the various scheduling techniques. (For more on the history of scheduling see "A Brief History of Scheduling Back to the Future" by Pat Weaver, Mosaic Project Services).
And while the tools and techniques used in today's projects may have been mechanized and automated, the fundamental processes to initiate, plan, execute, control and close projects are pretty much unchanged for 5,000 years. This was reaffirmed by a research project done between 2004 and 2006 entitled "Rethinking Project Management: Developing a New Research Agenda." This research, in which the author participated and contributed to, concluded that "project management is a discipline stuck in a 1960's time warp" and which this paper is designed to revisit.
All of this raises an important question given that:
- The so-called new product development processes and the project management processes have in fact remained more or less the same for 5,000+ years,
- The tools and techniques are much the same save for mechanization (think of moving the blocks of stone for the pyramids using a crane vs. using hand labor), and
- The estimating, planning and project controls functions have been automated (think P6, MSP, CostOS, and Sage).
Then the important question is: "Why can't we deliver projects that succeed with greater regularity?"
For our IT fraternity, isn't this what happens when a software (i.e. MS Office or Primavera) has been developed and goes into production for mass distribution globally? How is that any different from manufacturing shoes or jeans or automobiles or any other product?
18. Industrial Revolution Author History.com Editors, history.com/topics/industrial-revolution/industrial-revolution. Last Accessed January&nbsp;25, 2019 Publisher A&E Television Networks Last Updated January 10, 2019 Original Published Date October 29, 2009.
19. Labor Behind the Label (n.d.) /labourbehindthelabel.org/who-we-are/ last accessed 02/10/2019.
20. See "56 Story Building Constructed in 19 Days" youtube.com/watch?v=acLSbNxUP3s.
21. Weaver, Patrick (2006) A brief history of scheduling mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P042_History_of_Scheduing.pdf.