On Digital Project Management


Outstanding Issues for Consideration,

Review & Resolution



By Dr. Kenneth Smith, PMP

Honolulu, Hawaii

& Manila, The Philippines

By way of introduction, I’m a rara avis, a project management practitioner from the B.C.E. manual generation: i.e. Before the Computer Era); at least before the advent of the personal computer. Until mid-career, I only had a portable namesake typewriter. Equipped with PERT/CPM, PERT COST & JIT/LOB knowledge, experience, some statistical skills, a colored pentel set in my breast pocket, a circle template & post-it notes in my left side pocket, and a rolled-up flip-chart under my arm for presentations & drawing networks — I traveled the world practicing my project management trade.[1]

Subsequently, a boss’s teenage son taught me how to substitute a ‘word processor’ for my typewriter. (Already knowing how to type, the transition was relatively easy.)  Then humping a so-called ‘portable’ computer (as big & heavy as a Singer sewing machine) with two floppy disks in my other pocket, I joined the computer evolution and continued intrepid traveling with my PM ‘hammer’ for projects to pound.  Along the way I also acquired limited skill using MS Project software for scheduling; and Lotus 123 – later Excel – to create PM-related templates.

These days, I’m using Zoom – virtually — to teach project management concepts, tools and techniques to others with PowerPoint and my Excel templates.  Nevertheless, as those who know me well know; while I’m long-experienced and recognized as a project management specialist,[2] when it comes to computers, I’m still very much a neophyte.

Which brings me to this juncture:  Sitting on the sidelines and witnessing ever-more exotic computer program applications – admittedly above my pay-grade — being discussed and developed by younger generations, I have become increasingly dismayed that three fundamental issues — bypassed in the past — are still being overlooked today; or are being benignly neglected.

PMI defines an Issue as an unresolved Problem. My three PM Software Issues — to the best of my knowledge are:

1 Need for a computerized TIME-SCALED Critical Path Network exists.[3]

2. Existing software ‘EARNED VALUE’ computations & processing may be ERRONEOUS.

3. Need for a generic JIT/LOB software exists for Scheduling & Monitoring Repetitive-type Projects.

My concerns with these long-standing lacunae are summarized below and on the following pages: and further expounded in two referenced PMWJ articles.

  1. Need for a TIME-SCALED Critical Path Network Graphic

The rationale for a time-scaled ‘activity-on-arrow’ network with milestones is that it depicts a project schedule baseline which combines the best features of Gantt/bar charts and precedence networks in a single diagram.[4]  Instead of having to flip back and forth between Gantt/bar Charts and Precedence Networks – which is the only mode available with present scheduling software graphicsa time-scaled network combination highlights slack (float), which facilitates visual comprehension and analysis.

It should also have the flexibility to show the Latest Time for every monitored activity to meet the overall project deadline – i.e., when every activity is critical.

As such, time-scaling a network is a relatively simple computer software opportunity waiting to be developed – either as a stand-alone product, or an ‘app’ to tack on to an existing software, such as MS Project.


To read entire article, click here

How to cite this article: Smith, K. F. (2023).  On Digital Project Management: Outstanding Issues for Consideration, Review & Resolution, commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/pmwj134-Oct2023-Smith-on-digital-project-management.pdf

Editor’s note: This article is derived from Ken’s Open Letter to participants of the National Symposium on Digital PM, which was convened in Metro Manila, 15 September 2023 by the Philippines Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI).

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Smith

Honolulu, Hawaii
& Manila, The Philippines


Initially a US Civil Service Management Intern, then a management analyst & systems specialist with the US Defense Department, Ken subsequently had a career as a senior foreign service officer — management & evaluation specialist, project manager, and in-house facilitator/trainer — with the US Agency for International Development (USAID).  Ken assisted host country governments in many countries to plan, monitor and evaluate projects in various technical sectors; working ‘hands-on’ with their officers as well as other USAID personnel, contractors and NGOs.  Intermittently, he was also a team leader &/or team member to conduct project, program & and country-level portfolio analyses and evaluations.

Concurrently, Ken had an active dual career as Air Force ready-reservist in Asia (Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines) as well as the Washington D.C. area; was Chairman of a Congressional Services Academy Advisory Board (SAAB); and had additional duties as an Air Force Academy Liaison Officer.  He retired as a ‘bird’ colonel.

After retirement from USAID, Ken was a project management consultant for ADB, the World Bank, UNDP and USAID.

He earned his DPA (Doctor of Public Administration) from the George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia, his MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Systems Analysis Fellow, Center for Advanced Engineering Study), and BA & MA degrees in Government & International Relations from the University of Connecticut (UCONN).  A long-time member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and IPMA-USA, Ken is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) and a member of the PMI®-Honolulu and Philippines Chapters.

Ken’s book — Project Management PRAXIS (available from Amazon) — includes many innovative project management tools & techniques; and describes a “Toolkit” of related templates available directly from him at kenfsmith@aol.com on proof of purchase of PRAXIS.

To view other works by Ken Smith, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-kenneth-smith/

[1] Later — during a post-graduate sabbatical — I learned to write & punch Fortran 4 instructions on IBM cards and sort program decks for compilation by others on mainframes.
[2] Just like the military preference for the term ‘specialist’ rather ‘expert,’ I also favor the designation ‘specialist,’ and reserve the term ‘expert” for others.  Self-designation seems somewhat pretentious, and although I may now be an “Ex” — ‘has-been’ – I am no longer a “spurt” – i.e., ‘a drip under pressure!
[3] UPDATE:  I have since been informed that ‘Microplanner’ — a ‘to-do’ app with Office 365 — has a time-scaled network but have not yet checked it out.
[4] NOTE: Many years ago, an ‘app’ “Project Partner” was available that did provide time-scaled networks when linked with MS Project; but it fell by the wayside when MS Project upgraded to later versions.