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In his book Reconstructing Project Management, Peter Morris said:

"Managing projects is one of the oldest and most respected accomplishments of mankind.  We stand in awe of the achievements of the builders of pyramids, the architects of ancient cities, the masons and craftsmen of great cathedrals and mosques; of the might and the labour behind the great wall of China, and the other wonders of the world."

The basic principles of project management include planning, organising, leading and controlling tasks and resources to achieve a specified goal within a predetermined time frame and budget.  It is indeed a basic skill that evolved over the centuries, but the future of project management is even more exciting, crucial and challenging. At the beginning of the 21st century, Project Management was characterised by Fortune magazine as the number one career choice.

However, the nature of in-demand project management skills and competencies have shifted.  The following is an extract from The Future of Project management: Global Outlook as recently published by KPMG and the Australian Institute of Project management:

“The future Project Manager will be increasingly strategic and connected. This requires individuals to develop their skills in areas outside traditional project management practices, such as change management. Additionally they will need to be a very effective communicator who understands the dynamic link between the business strategy and the projects they are responsible for delivering.”

Project managers are no longer the mere “implementing agents” of initiatives within an organisation.  The future project manager must be able to understand:

  • What does project management have to do with the overall strategic direction of the organisation?
  • How can project management be related to the organisation’s business operations?
  • How can project management processes be incorporated or integrated into the business management processes?
  • How can project business management benefit the enterprise and ensure value realisation?


Rising Demand for Project Management Training

Eighteen months since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy is poised to stage its most robust post-recession recovery in 80 years in 2021.  Global growth is expected to accelerate to 5.6% this year, with predictions of 2.5% growth for the South African economy.  In the aftermath of the present pandemic, companies–from startups to multinational corporations–will be back in full force, accelerating to cover the ground that has been lost due to the extended lockdown, but in the midst of it all, the project manager will play an important role.  Consequently, the demand for project management training and qualifications will increase substantially post-Covid-19.


Applying Project Management Skills in the Field

There are a wide variety of industries where project managers are needed. Industries with highest levels of project-oriented work include business services, construction, manufacturing, utility industries, finance, and insurance etc. Project managers use multiple skills to oversee a variety of team members, resources and tasks to successfully complete a project.  Although projects are discipline specific, the generic management skills and competencies, tranced functional boundaries.  At Stellenbosch Business School we have had the privilege of students from industries as disperse as construction, health care, agriculture, IT, fine arts and education.  There is absolutely no restriction for the application of project management skills and competencies in the work environment.  The reason is that project management is a secondary skill obtained as one matures and grows in one’s career and migrates from a functional work domain to an integrative co-ordinating role.  A Google search for “Project Management Vacancies” will lead to more than 5 million hits, within all conceivable industries.

It is helpful to think about project management in terms of lifelong learning which includes education, experience, and certification.

  • Education is required to develop a sound foundation of the theories, practices, standards, terminology, and tools that are used in project management.
  • Fred Brooks said: “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” Bad judgement can, however, be minimised with good training.
  • As far as certification is concerned, Stellenbosch Business School and PMI South Africa Chapter have a memorandum of understanding which holds various benefits for Stellenbosch Business School’s students in a project management course or related programme. This includes access to professional development activities such as workshops, conferences and speaker events, project management research and collaboration, and also outreach activities.


Acquiring Accredited Project Management Skills Training

As a Business School, our focus is on the business of projects. Our Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management follows a learning trajectory where we initially focus our students on Project Leadership and EQ. These skills are absolutely crucial for project managers to lead teams.  The new normal of virtual realities in managing projects, require multi-level leadership principles, emotional intelligence and managerial principles in change management and negotiations that go beyond the basic management of projects.

In subsequent modules we deal with Project Management technical matters, such as planning, communication- and risk management, procurement and scheduling.  We conclude the Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management with modules in Cost Management and Fundamentals of Management.  These modules are presented on a level where the strategic and business domains within which modern project management has to be contextualised.

Our MBA Project Management stream is a logical progression for professionals who wish to be proficient in both project portfolio management and key business disciplines such as strategy, finance, operations management and marketing.  We focus on the imperatives for project portfolio selection, portfolio management and finance.  Included in the MBA Project Management stream is a module to focus on key digital technologies that will influence digitisation of the business of projects in the future.  The Stellenbosch Business School’s integrated programmes in Project Management is literally a learning pathway you can apply to any discipline to enhance your career and personal development progress.

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