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The history of project management in Australia

11 July 2016

Successful project management requires core competencies associated with risk, control, planning, implementation, evaluation, collaboration and systems analysis. It is an essential role in so many industries, but what is project management and where did it come from?

Good project managers have the skills to successfully guide a project from start to finish, whichever their chosen industry may be. Project management was first used in work titles in the building and construction industry. That then grew into a specialisation that is relevant in all sectors. The following infographic provides an overview of its journey and development.


  • People managed projects, especially in the building industry, it just didn't have that title yet. 

The 1960s 

  • Construction firm Civic & Civic appoint project managers for works as such as the Sydney Opera House 
  • The Project Management Institute (PMI) is established in the US 
  • Program Evaluation Review (PERT), Critical Path Method (CPM) and Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) are developed 

Prevalent industries include Construction, IT and Defence. 

The 1970s: Project Management moves into finance, law and government 

  • The Project Managers' Forum (PMF) is formed in Australia; 
  • The PMF has it's the first conference. 

The 1980s 

  • A certification program for project managers is developed in the ACT in 1987;
  • New Parliament House is opened in Canberra in 1988; 
  • 'Microsoft Project' software is released; 
  • Development of the PRINCE project management methodology; 
  • The world of project management develops the standards that are the foundation of current professional standards.  

The 1990s' 

  • PMF get renamed Australian Institue of Project Management (AIPM) and develops a constitution and National Competency Standards;
  • Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is developed; 
  • The PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide becomes a standard at the American National Standards Institute in 1996; 
  • The first Project Management Achievement Awards event is held in 1999 in the Northern Territory.

The 2000s

  • The special interest group Women in Project Management (WIPM) is launched in Canberra in 2007, becoming a national concept after launch; 
  • AIPM becomes a part of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and is its second-largest member. 

2010 - now 

  • Project Management becomes its own industry;
  • The Bachelor of Project Management at the University of Sydney becomes the first PM degree in Australia; 
  • Southern Cross University offers a 100% online Master of Project Management, with no exams and it's PMBOK Guide aligned. 


At SCU Online, you can obtain a Master of Project Management and modify it to suit your specific field of interest. Give one of our friendly Student Enrolment Advisors a call on 1300 589 882 to find out more.