The University of Pretoria has been teaching project management at postgraduate level since the 1970s and by the end of August 1997, a practical 20-day project management programme, the Programme in Project Management (PPM), was launched. Since then, the programme has been presented 154 times – celebrating 20 years of training excellence in project management.
While the responsibility for the academic content of the programme is developed by the Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) at the University of Pretoria (UP), administration and roll-out of the programme are facilitated by Enterprises University of Pretoria (Enterprises UP). Unlike most other postgraduate programmes of the University that focus on both practical and theoretical aspects, the PPM’s focus is specifically on the development of practical project management skills in the workplace.
The programme includes several practical assignments that are performed by delegates in their specific work environments, including the development of project plans, risk management plans, and the like. As such, the PPM is not only suitable for engineers, but also for individuals who are involved in or interested in managing projects in any other environment or industry.
To hone the project management skills of PPM delegates, a multidisciplinary team of course presenters – each a subject matter expert in a specific project management knowledge area – ensure that the delegates are equipped a working knowledge of the broad range of disciplines needed for successful project management.
The PPM also benefits extensively from the University’s postgraduate course work and research on the subject as UP has been offering a master’s degree programme in Project Management (MPM) since 1999. Currently, this is the only master’s programme in Africa accredited by the Global Accreditation Center (GAC) of the international Project Management Institute (PMI).
The presenters on the PPM are also to a large extent the same lecturers who also teach the MPM. Research work done by MPM students, lecturing staff and PhD candidates ensures that the latest developments and best practices are always taken into practice.
In December 2006, the leading construction and engineering company, Group Five, invited proposals for project management courses from several training providers and, after a rigorous assessment of proposals, selected the GSTM and Enterprises UP to further the project management discipline within their group of companies.
The course selected was a tailored version of the PPM and the first Group Five intake on the programme commenced in June 2007. Since the first intake, another eight intakes of the PPM were successfully completed within the first ten years of collaboration. A total number of 244 delegates from Group Five have enrolled on the nine course intakes and a relatively high pass rate has been achieved, signifying that the delegates mastered the required skills to manage their projects successfully.
Mr Jacques le Roux, head of the Group Five Academy, commented on the decade of collaboration stating, “We started this programme ten years ago to enrich our first-line project managers to have the necessary skills sets to turn loss-making projects into to profit-making projects. Over the ten years we did more than that. We built a professional internal project management body that is able to function across our various construction, manufacturing and concession businesses.”
The PPM is presented in two alternative modes (with identical course outcomes) either as a 20-day programme, presented over four study blocks of five days each, or as a weekender option over eight Fridays and eight Saturdays. There are several intakes annually on both training options open to the public and can also be presented as an in-house course tailored to organisations’ specific industry- or sector-requirements.