Since the first human beings started walking around the world, we can consider that there were people gradually “projectizing” the way we do things. Maybe not exactly as we currently understand Project Management and surely using a lot less techniques, but there were certainly projects and project managers.
A good example comes from 2650 B.C., during the construction of the first Egyptian Pyramid. At that time, King Djoser, the customer and sponsor, required his architects to build this particular building, which is said that by many reasons it might be expected to provide him a kind of smoother journey to his afterlife as well as some other benefits.
We can consider that it was a major programme, since it intended to contribute directly to one or more of King Djoser’s strategic objectives. Although it was 4700 years ago, they already knew that this kind of programme needs someone fully accountable for the results. Maybe they were even more accountable than today, once those programme managers could lose their lives in case of failure. Then, they chose the vizier Imhotep for this task.
After gathered the most relevant stakeholders’ expectations, defined expected benefits and created the KPIs for further control, Imhotep and his architects (the project team) decided to build six Mastabas, one on top of the other (Mastabas were Egyptian burial chambers). They probably “hired” thousands of slaves and executed this challenging programme. At the end, they had built a 197-foot-high (60 meters) Step Pyramid as part of a 37 acres (15 hectares) complex. Even for today’s figures, we need to recognize it as a very large and complex programme.
This programme was considered a success, since it delivered the output expected by the King and it also is considered as the inspiration for all the other Egyptian Pyramids. The title of “chief of sculptors” has been awarded by the King to the programme manager, Imhotep, which has his name carved on one of the King’s statues.
However, analysing it by today’s perspective someone can say that the most important KPI was hardly measurable, since nobody can say how or even whether the King reached his afterlife. Moreover, that Pyramid had not a perfect shape, which required a lot of effort from the next generations in order to build a smooth sided pyramid. Although we see this programme as a unique benchmark, we cannot say that it is a total success, can we?
Therefore, based on the evolution of project management throughout the centuries, this blog will discuss themes related to project management (including programme, portfolio, benefits, governance, etc.) from the perspective that they are constantly evolving. It means that we are always learning, discovering and creating.
The next posts will continue this history, by moving its attention into more modern pyramids and programmes…
More info about the Pyramid of Djoser can be found on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_of_Djoser