Project Management Software – A Brief History (Part 1)

So we at EPM Live thought many of our customers might be interested in how project management software came about; it’s a pretty interesting and remarkable story.  Most people don’t realize that project management software is actually 54 years old this year, and was one of the first software applications ever developed.  So let’s start at the beginning:

The project management industry owes its origins to one enlightened US company and four brilliant men.  The company was the Dupont Company and the key players were John Mauchly, J. Presper Eckert Jr., Jim Kelly, and Morgan Walker.  Mauchly and Eckert were the designers of the ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic digital computer.  The US Army contracted with Mauchly and Eckert for the development of ENIAC which was first used to calculate bomb and artillery trajectories.  Eckert did the hardware engineering, and Mauchly did the conceptual design.  The ENIAC was originally “programmed” with patch cords and switches; changing the program took days.  But ENIAC could solve trajectory problems that couldn’t be solved by other means. The picture below shows 4 panels (of 40) from the ENIAC which was located in a basement (more on the basement later) at the University of Pennsylvania.

Eventually the two men formed the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and in 1947 they received a contract form the National Bureau of Standards to build the first computer designed for business applications.  Their computer eventually became the UNIVAC I.  Very early in the history of their company, Mauchly assumed responsibility for programming, coding, and applications for the planned computer systems.  Mauchly pioneered fundamental computer concepts including the stored program, subroutines, and programming languages.  Mauchly’s interest lay in the “application” of computers, because he realized that no one would buy a computer without applications.

Mauchly and Eckert were brilliant scientists and engineers, but not so great at running the business.  They had continued financial issues and the company was purchased by Remington Rand and became the UNIVAC division.

DuPont purchased one of the first UNIVAC computers. DuPont management felt that ‘planning, estimating and scheduling’ seemed like a good use of the computer.  Morgan Walker of DuPont was given the job of discovering if a computer could be programmed to help.  Others had started studying the problem, including other researchers within DuPont but no one had achieved a commercially viable outcome.  In the period from late 1956 through April 1957, Walker, assisted by Jim Kelly from Remington Rand and others, had scoped a viable project.  Their challenge was to solve the time-cost conundrum.  Their goal was to demonstrate that in preference to flooding a project with labor to recover lost time, focusing effort on the ‘right’ (critical) tasks could reduce time without significantly increasing cost.

In May 1957, a meeting was held between Remington Rand’s UNIVAC division and DuPont to start a project to develop the Critical Path Method (CPM).   Note that CPM wasn’t first used to describe the operating system for the Apple II.  The project was jointly funded by both companies, but the key ingredients for success were the people brought to the project by UNIVAC.  The DuPont team was headed by Walker and the key players from UNIVAC were James E. Kelley and John Mauchly.  Kelley was the mathematician and computer expert nominated by Mauchly to ‘solve the problem’ for Walker.

The solution adopted by Kelley was borrowed from ‘linear programming’ and used what was called “I-J” notation to describe the relationship between activities.  His approach created a couple of significant challenges.  One was gathering the data needed to load the computer model.  Engineers were not used to describing work in terms of activities (tasks) with resource requirements and different costs depending on the resources.  It took Walker 3 months to assemble the first test data for Kelly’s algorithm!

Another problem was that unless you were a mathematician, “I-J” wasn’t something easily understood.  The team developed the ‘Activity-on-Arrow’ diagram to explain the mathematics to management.  Despite all of the problems, the team ran the first real CPM analysis for one of DuPont’s plant shutdowns in July 1957. The project schedule included 61 activities, 8 timing restraints and 16 dummies!  Here’s a portion of the CPM diagram for that first test:

Project management thus became the first commercial software program which ran on a computer using a “stored program”.

Work on the CPM application continued for the next few years and in March 1959 Kelley and Walker jointly presented CPM to the public at large at the Eastern Joint Computer Conference in a paper entitled ‘Critical Path Planning and Scheduling’.  Amazing though, CPM nearly died as a concept.  Although the system saved DuPont 25% on their plant shutdowns, they dropped the system shortly after a management change took place. And the Remington Rand UNIVAC division saw little future in the system and abandoned it!

CPM was ‘saved’ by Mauchly & Associates (formed by John Mauchly and Jim Kelley).  They commercialized the system, simplified the process to focus on schedule (rather than cost), organized training courses and developed an entire new way of ‘doing business’.  CPM was popular but expensive – solving scheduling problems could cost the price of a small car; however, the commercial ‘push’ from Mauchly & Associates moved CPM to the forefront of ‘scheduling systems’ (overtaking the PERT technique being developed by the US Navy) until the “Precedence” technique used by all scheduling systems today was developed in the 1970s.

In next month’s Part 2 blog: “EPMLive traces itself to these early pioneers”.

*** A bit of releated history:  “What’s the origin of the term software “bugs”?

There are several stories about where the term “bugs” came from, but many center on John Mauchly’s original ENIAC computer, located in a basement at the University of Pennsylvania.  Remember that the ENIAC was driven by vacuum tubes which took a long time to warm up, and “glowed”.  This was long before the advent of commercial air conditioning.  The ENIAC had to be started up before dawn and the operators opened the basement windows to keep temperatures down.  The ENIAC used “core” memory and many wires and switches had no insulation.  You can imagine the effect the moths who came in those windows had when they alighted on the circuits!  One of Mauchly’s first computer programmers Grace Hopper is given credit for first using the term “bug”, although some others dispute her as the author.  Whoever you believe there is a log book on display in the Smithsonian complete with moth attached:



So until next month, I hope you have enjoyed learning about the history of Project Management Software!  To see how far Project Management Tools have come, check out EPM Live!

EPM Live Announces Launch of WorkEngine Fall Release

Carlsbad, CA — October 19, 2011 EPM Live, a global leader in Enterprise SharePoint Project, Portfolio and Work Management applications, announced at SharePoint Conference 2011 the launch of its WorkEngine Fall release.. Building on its award winning foundation aligned with project and work execution, WorkEngine has extended its core capabilities to include an array of features that will enhance the end-user experience. WorkEngine supports end-to-end Enterprise Project and Work Management disciplines throughout the entire life cycle of projects as well as non-project work and is known for its ease of use and flexibility resulting in the following benefits:

1. Guaranteed Usability- WorkEngine is built on the SharePoint Platform, making it intuitive, flexible and familiar
2. One Size Fits All- WorkEngine contains tools for every user regardless of maturity, work focus and preferred methodology. One system is all you need for all users, all work, all processes
3. No Deployment Limitations- WorkEngine is tailored for the user, which means it can be served up online, on-premise, hosted, or even in a dedicated environment
4. Instant Results- WorkEngine is built from best practice work solutions giving you out-of-box templates to instantly begin managing projects, products, applications and services

“This release extends our commitment to maximize ROI for businesses who own Microsoft SharePoint by adding a comprehensive end-to-end Enterprise Project and Work Management Solution to their platform. For those who don’t own SharePoint, our online WorkEngine environment allows teams to get up and running now and begin realizing the benefits of Enterprise Project and Work Management immediately without the need for costly deployment cycles. It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” says Joe Larscheid, CEO of EPM Live.

EPM Live recently wrapped up its WorkEngine beta program and received raving reviews from the participants. “The WorkEngine system is reliable and robust enough for the largest organizations, and on the other hand, it empowers smaller ones to work with more basic features without getting burdened with complex and overkill management workflow, management and other elements of that nature. So whether you’re the Basecamp type, the Attask type or the Microsoft Project type, WorkEngine Live has a solution for every type of customer.” said Web-based Software.

Here are some of the cool new features in WorkEngine’s Fall Release:

• “My Work” Additions- Add comments, check off work with one click, and create personal views to help simplify managing work
• All New Project Planner- Access other critical list items such as risks, issues and documents directly from the online schedule. Leverage powerful Gantt controls to easily update and edit schedules and build the team directly from the default task view
• Getting Started Tab- Leverage the slide out “getting started” tab that allows users to watch videos relevant to the page they are on. These help guides can be customized to include pertinent training information for work teams
• Add Comments to Any Work Item- Now users can add comments on any work item including tasks, documents and issues
• New “Create Project” Process- Create templates with ease or select from EPM Live’s online gallery. Leverage pre-built workspace templates to make creating projects easy and to standardize the project creation process
• Create “New Item” Feature- Easily create new items from one centralized location streamlining content creation and collaboration
• Common Actions Feature- Administrators or managers can now populate the Common Actions dropdown with content that is specific to their processes
• New “My Workspaces” Component- The “My Workspaces” navigation component is always with the user no matter what page in the site they’re on. With two clicks, users can navigate to any site in the Site Collection, both horizontally and vertically
• Email Notifications- Improving team communication was a big focus of this release. Now email notifications can be turned on for any list
• “My Work” List Automation- Now, with the check of a box, users can automatically add the fields necessary to roll up any list into the “my work” list so users can view workload across all project and work initiatives
• Smart “Edit Plan” Functionality- Multiple buttons for the various planning tools have now been replaced by one simple “Edit Plan” button. Administrators and managers can set which planners are available. This feature will greatly simplify the way users interact with their planning tools. Users now have the option to set a default planning tool which is automatically launched when clicking the “Edit Plan” button
• Build Team Access- Now users can access the build team feature from multiple locations in their sites. Users can build their team from their resource pool and will no longer see the entire list of users when they are not relevant

EPM Live will continue to provide cutting-edge, cost effective project and work management solutions leveraging the Microsoft technologies organizations already own to increase the value of their current IT investments. EPM Live’s applications support the entire work and project management lifecycle and provide the necessary efficiencies and indicators for companies to improve their ROI, streamline their business processes and make critical business decisions. EPM Live offers its clients solutions that possess the flexibility and scalability to meet specific industry and methodology needs. These innovative solutions include capabilities such as Portfolio Management, Project Management, Cost Management, Time Management, Resource Management, Service Management, Agile Management, Business Intelligence and Collaboration. These capabilities are all designed to work together or separately to meet any business specific need.

EPM Live Launches PortfolioEngine at the Gartner ITxpo!

We at EPM Live are very excited to be participating in the Gartner IT Expo event!  The Gartner IT Expo allows us to network with key IT industry leaders, and access to over 450 sessions.   We are enjoying connecting with our customers at our booth and learning moreabout the major trends that are shaping the IT landscape from Mobile, Context, Cloud and Social.

At the event, we released our new PortfolioEngine product line.  PortfolioEngine is our SharePoint-based, top-down Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Solution that empowers executives to make critical business decisions with confidence.  With PortfolioEngine you know which projects deliver the highest ROI while maximizing your company’s resources.  Key new features include:
  • Stage Gates: PortfolioEngine allows you to optimize your business performance through pre-built workflow templates for approvals and stage gating. Streamline project approval through workflows to automatically initiate project execution. Easily customize your business processes to meet your approval needs.
  • Portfolio Analytics & Prioritization:  Leverage portfolio analytics tools to make better decisions when selecting projects and work for execution.  Gain real-time insight into rich analytics such as color-coded heat maps and portfolio modeling capabilities.  Prioritize based on financial value, strategic alignment, risk or any other business case criterion.

    What-If Analysis

  • Demand Management & Portfolio Selection:  Capture and determine the right mix and sequencing of proposed projects and ideas to best achieve the organization’s overall goals. View various dashboards of proposed work to evaluate which projects bring the most value to the business.


  •  Top-Down Planning: PortfolioEngine offers top-down planning capabilities that are supported with our bottoms-up detailed project and work management capabilities resulting in better business outcomes.


Reporting and Enterprise Reporting: Which SharePoint 2010 Business Intelligence Approach is Best?

Reporting solutions range from complex, technically challenging infrastructure types to simple, ad-hoc reporting from a client-based application. Often, the most difficult aspect of selecting a solution is the process of understanding what the organization really needs.

The success factors of implementation are basically three-fold:

  1. The level of commitment and sponsorship of the project from senior management
  2. The level of business need for creating a BI implementation
  3. The amount and quality of business data available


In this post, I have analyzed some of the most popular and most common reporting solutions for SharePoint 2010, mentioning both benefits and challenges. An organization may need one, some or all of these reporting solutions to meet their enterprise needs. In practice, all of these solutions are compatible in an infrastructure properly designed with the whole in mind and can be deployed in totality.

Summary of Reporting and Enterprise Reporting Solutions:

SharePoint Reporting Options WorkEngine Reporting Solution Benefits Description
SharePoint Web Part Pages/Dashboard
WorkEngine Chart Web Part Template Pack:
Low-impact to infrastructure
Leverages SharePoint Out of Box web part pages, high flexibility
Commonly tracked project information and will save you valuable time with the ability to place them in any Web Part Zone in your WorkEngine application.
Microsoft Office (Excel, Access) connected directly to a reporting database
WorkEngine Excel Report Packs:
General Instructions for setting up Excel to connect to WorkEngine Reporting Database:
WorkEngine Preconfigured Excel Reports:
WorkEngine Preconfigured Timesheet Reporting:
Low-impact to infrastructure (usually little to no change required to setup)
Report design is easily modified and updated
Commonly used Excel based application for managing and reporting
Web-based Microsoft Office (Excel, Access) rendered through SharePoint WorkEngine Excel Report Packs:
General Instructions for setting up Excel to connect to WorkEngine Reporting Database:
WorkEngine Preconfigured Excel Reports:
WorkEngine Preconfigured Timesheet Reporting:
Medium-impact to infrastructure, requiring technical resources to implement
Report design is easily modified and updated as organizational changes flow down
Reports are centralized through technical design and maintained as part of the SharePoint farm
Web-based SQL Reporting Services reports stored on SharePoint WorkEngine SSRS Report Pack:
High-impact to infrastructure, requiring specialized technical resources to implement
Report design is tightly controlled
Reports are centralized through technical design and maintained as part of the SharePoint farm
Reports performance is based on SQL server stability and performance, which can handle millions of rows
Web-based KPIs and dashboards using PerformancePoint in SharePoint Performance Point integration with WorkEngine Reporting Database
WorkEngine Reporting Database Info:  Please review section 7 of our Administration and Configuration Guide.
High-impact to infrastructure, requiring specialized technical resources to implement
Report design is tightly controlled
Reports are centralized through technical design and maintained as part of the SharePoint farm
Reports performance is based on SharePoint server stability and performance, and can handle millions of rows
No end-user training is required to consume the reports, and they are generated automatically

Weigh the technical and organizational challenges, your business requirements and the three success factors mentioned upfront to discover which reporting solution will work best for you.

You can always start with the most simple, extensible option and grow into a more complex solution over time. At the very least, I would recommend to first try the solution with the lowest initial investment (whichever one that is for you) for a period of time, and then do a re-assessment on whether the organization’s business intelligence needs are satisfied.​

EPM Live Gives Back- Bringing SharePoint Project Management to Everyone

It has been a great year for EPM Live! We have so many reasons to be thankful: a rapidly growing client base, healthy and dedicated employees, many noteworthy acomplishments, an endless supply of loyal supporters, and many, many more! It is for these reasons that we are honored every year to give back to our community. EPM Live donates tens of thousands of dollars in software licenses every month to aid non-profit organizations in planning, controlling and executing their projects and work to maximize their contributions to their causes.

Managing projects with minimum resources and little funding requires even more control which is why EPM Live has been supporting non-profits by giving them the tools they need to make their organizations successful. Some of the non-profit organizations that have experienced EPM Live’s give back spirit are listed below:

Operation ShareLove: Support Haiti Earthquake Victims:

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne, approximately 25 km (16 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian government reported that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. They also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged. EPM Live donated free copies of Project Publisher to anyone that donated at least $50 to the cause.

Special Olympics:

The Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee needed a project management tool that would allow each venue to manage their tasks independently and have the ability to report their project status to one enterprise site. The Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee uses WorkEngine because the solution provides the highest level of capability and flexibility, with the greatest ease of use in functionality and deployment. With WorkEngine’s online Software + Services environment, the solution gave the committee the ability to be up and running within a few business days. “The solution came highly recommended from the team we were working with on our technology infrastructure. We are a sunset organization and did not have much time to implement and configure a complicated EPM solution. WorkEngine allowed us to add as many users as needed and tailor the solution to our unique needs,” said J.P. Benlian, Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee Member.

The Pink Party:

The Pink Party is committed to supporting breast cancer research, patient and family care, education related to environmental/biological causes and the importance of early detection. By bringing the community together to party for a cause, The Pink Party promotes celebration, survival, empowerment and education. The Pink Party used WorkEngine to provide volunteer coordination, event planning and execution, manage all donations and donors as well as establish a portal for all sponsorship communication and correspondence.

Hope for Gavin:

Tay-Sachs is a rare hereditary disease caused by a genetic mutation that leaves the body unable to produce an enzyme (known as Hex-A) necessary for fat metabolism in nerve cells. Without this enzyme, central nervous system degeneration ensues. The disease is named for a British ophthalmologist, Warren Tay, who first described the disease, in 1881, and a New York neurologist, Bernard Sachs, who first described the cellular changes and the genetic nature of the disease, in 1887. Gavin is a 5 year old boy who lives in San Diego, CA. In 2009, Gavin was diagnosed with Tay Sachs disease, a rare and fatal disease. The Hope for Gavin charity was created to provide support for Gavin and support for the Cure Tay Sachs Foundation. The Hope for Gavin team has been using their WorkEngine application to manage all fundraising events, sell tickets, control donations and sponsorships and provide a collaboration environment for all volunteers.

PMI Chapters (Project Management Institute):

EPM Live has been offering all PMI Chapters the online WorkEngine product for over three years. PMI Chapters are using WorkEngine to run Chapter business including volunteer programs, conference planning and execution, board meeting minutes and action items, component dinner planning and execution as well as all other simple to complex project management needs. Because WorkEngine is built on SharePoint, users are able to collaborate easily and efficiently without the need for an elaborate training program. It also gives PMI Chapters the ability to incentivize volunteers by providing top of the line, best practice software to manage all of their programs, offering them the experience they need to improve their project management skill level. WorkEngine’s security is flexible and scalable so Chapter’s can collaborate not only with their individual Chapter but can share best practice information across other Chapter’s in their region as well.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year a huge success! Happy Holidays to all!