Learning digital skills are mandated for professionals in the online world. Given that you want to remain ahead of the competition in today’s job market, you need to keep your options open. Learn something new every day, apply your skills and move forward with real-life implementations.
On the same note, the demand for Digital Project Managers is on the rise as more companies are shifting from traditional work processes to digital. Organizations now need more managers and professionals to deliver digital projects.
If you are working as a project manager, you are more likely to deal with digital tools and digital content. With an ever-growing number of internet and smartphone users around the world, more people can access and manage digital products.
Nowadays, project managers are moving their processes and teams to the digital realm as a means to keep up in line with the competition and delivering projects in lesser time. Digital project managers use different collaboration software, cloud storage, online task management tools to get things done with better results. It won’t be wrong to say that this is the “revamped” face of project management. You need to dive into the digital field and equip your skills set now.
What is a digital project manager?
As mentioned earlier in this post, when we talk about project management or a project manager per se, it comes down to the following definition;
“Science of planning, executing, initiating, managing and implementing projects in a given time”.
Digital project management takes concepts from the above and applies them in real-life world situations as deemed fit. This means any project that has a digital element to it, like a website, web apps, mobile apps, digital software, etc. The manager who makes sure that their digital projects run smoothly is known as ‘Digital Project Manager’.
What are some most needed Digital Project Manager (DPM) skills?
Digital project managers are expected to have a diverse skill set given the responsibilities and the job role. The actual requirements will vary because businesses and industries don’t always work at the same level. However, this guide will share the most commonly used skills needed for a digital project manager from a bird’s perspective.
1. Marketing and Technology Language
Now is the right time to master marketing and tech language to help you to speak like a Pro Digital Project Manager. As a result, you will understand and deliver more effectively in conversation with all the stakeholders. The knowledge of basic tech languages like jQuery and CSS will help you improve interactivity resulting in more engagement and conversions. Moreover, you can earn the respect of your team and clients.
To help build your marketing and technology language you can do short courses available online. There is an abundance of FREE courses available at HubSpot. If you are looking for some advanced level paid courses, you can check out Udemy’s massive collection of online tutorials.
2. Attention To Details
This might look like a baby step, but believe me, this is one of the most important skills needed for a digital project manager. If you don’t give attention to details then you will face issues, such as; but not limited to broken links, reporting errors, timeline problems, and an overall flawed project journey.
In order to master this skill set, you need to have an analytical and critical mindset to help manage your projects at any number of digital channels.
3. Organized work
Managing your tasks and workflow in an organized way is of much importance to ensure smooth delivery as per the project timeline. If you make a mess then you will definitely miss your deadlines and have glitches in the work you do. Call it proper housekeeping to benefit from the project timeline.
Some simple tasks will take up to four times more time due to ill-managed tasks, files, and folders, meetings, and workflows. Your team may not be a fan of managed work habits. It is the duty of a project manager to get the work done in an organized and managed way. You need to make your team follow the proper SOP’s (standard operation procedure).
4. Vendor Partnership and Relationship Building
Do you like to interact with different types of people with other industry backgrounds and building a relationship with them while you’re at it? As a digital project manager, you will find yourself serving as a client, sometimes a stakeholder, and your team’s internal advocate.
Sometimes you need to handle vendors (such as freelancers) and other partners working for your organization in-house. You should have the skills to qualify the vendors and the ability to seek them out. This will polish your people skills and enable you to do client-side communication in a better way.
5. Knowledge of Project Management Methodologies
Digital Project Managers (DPM) use specific terms and methodologies to manage their projects from a lifecycle perspective. You need to keep up-to-date concerning methodologies such as; Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, and Scrum. They are a must-learn “thingie” for DPMs. Understanding such terms and their use will make you a hero among your team, clients, and managers.
That being said, organizations don’t use all the methodologies at the same time. But you must have basic knowledge of the aforementioned methodologies nonetheless. All these methodologies are different in terms of complexity and needs.
To increase your value as a digital project manager you must get handy with project management tools like Atlassian Jira, nTask, Wrike and Trello. These tools offer a hands-on perspective of what it’s like to apply Scrum, Agile and Kanban practices on digital media.
6. Knowledge of Modern Technology Platforms
In the age of digital influx, you are required to be up to par on elements like; APIs, mobile applications, cross-platform apps, and cloud platforms. Speaking of cloud-based platforms, it isn’t a bad time to get started on learning about PaaS and SaaS.
If you are not aware of such technical platforms, you don’t need to worry about it. Just spend some time with your technology and development team; they will walk you through some of the basics in a day or two. The remainder of the learning phase can go from anywhere from 1 month to a several months duration on end.
7. Fiscal Metrics
Businesses run on finance, and it is the basic reason why these businesses are able to operate for any amount of time. However, finances, alone, do not ensure a project’s execution. As a project manager, you need to place several checks and balances in place. On top of that, there has to be a project management system that helps to account for resource management. The latter is of crucial importance in any number of projects.
People who don’t account for resources, find themselves running into obstacles. Resources are finite and if you or your project manager are not keeping an eye out, the pool will run dry eventually.
Your idea, product and design come next to the finance. An informed project manager is able to understand the implication of the project and different activities subject to profit margins and time factors. It will help you well in optimizing project performance and team productivity.
8. Negotiation Skills
Time is a resource and you are obliged to meet the deadline. In order to make a project a success, you must learn to negotiate with different people at a different level. A good project manager knows how to manage the risks in the project and work with the team to control the project scope.
Moreover, you will need to negotiate with vendors of your organization like rates, quality and quantity, and delivery time.
9. Positive Attitude
A project manager must be cool minded, optimistic, and needs to maintain a positive outlook. The latter part is important because a project manager is the last person anyone expects to panic. If he does, it doesn’t take long for the entire team to fall apart!
You are “that” element in an organization that glues the team and the project together. There are ups and downs during a project lifecycle; in fact, they are a natural by-product of any project. You need not lose hope and keep up the effort to make the project successful.
10. Editing and Copywriting
Every technology and marketing position requires writing skills, either it is a blog post, support documents, requirement manuals, workflows, etc. Digital Project Managers should not be alien to copywriting and editing skills.
You may also need to create some manuals, documents, and articles to help in project success. Apart from that, emails related to copywriting skills are a must to master. They will help during negotiations with vendors, clients, and your team.
For instance, if some promising prospect contacts you through your official email ID – you need to write a powerful email that has the possibility of turning him into a potential lead.
If you need to get work done from your content and design team, keep in mind that editing and copywriting skills will take that content a step further and polish it. No amount of content, even if it is written by professionals, should be taken as the final version. There’s always a “final copy” that’s been proofread and leads to much better results in the long run.
11. HTML and CSS
Among many popular programming languages in the online and real-life world, the internet is famous for these two, i.e. HTML and CSS. The ability to write and edit HTML or CSS code will help to pinch your developers and design team.
Sometimes, simple HTML tasks such as formatting images, text, and videos on online sources help take some pressure off your development team. You can learn basic internet language from W3schools.com and CodeAcademy.com for understanding. The basic version of HTML is pretty much easy. You can learn it in a day or two. If it’s any constellation, I already see you running marquees at a dummy website’s homepage!
12. Social Media Skills
Social media is the main channel used by marketing to the team to get their words out to the potential target audience. A digital project manager needs to learn how to use these platforms to publish different types of content, like articles, images, and videos using tools like Buffer.com and SproutSocial.com.
Each social media publishing platform has its own benefits and limitations. Choose the one that fits your organizational needs.
13. File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
Many organizations in the tech sector use file transfer protocol (FTP) to connect with local and online servers and connect to the files. Some people use public cloud sharing platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive. However, knowledge of FTP is critical for a winning digital project manager.
Your company may not prefer to use FTP service but your vendors might be working at the FTP platform to share, download, and upload important files. Having basic knowledge about it is mandatory. Examples of some of the popular FTP platforms are Smart FTP and FileZilla. And yes, you can download and try them without any hassle or whatsoever.
The problem-solving skill is a part of the everyday activity of an effective digital project manager. Problem-solving is involved in all project management tasks such as project n’ timeline planning, task management, budgeting, time tracking, scope control, and risk management.
This skill is also known to help DPMs during the critical phases of product feature testing, ideation, and planning. Be ready to face different problems every day 😊. No day will be the same. It will be an exciting experience as a DPM.
15. Reporting and Analytics
If you are a manager in any department then analytics and reporting is the core function of your job. The digital project managers must be able to collect, interpret, and display data in a meaningful way. Data is a goldmine for any organization.
There are several tools that a DPM can use to collect data online such as Google Analytics, Webmaster, Klipfolio, and many more. You can get a free course on how to use such an analytical tool from Google Digital Garage. You can easily get certified in reporting and analytics.
16. Knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In order to place your content on the top pages of Google, Bing, and Yahoo you need to learn the knowledge of SEO, and various up-to-date practices associated with it. You can help your company to rank higher in the search results and get more traffic to your website.
People searching for good content can become your potential customers if your digital assets are optimized for the search engines. There are several tools that can help you practice good SEO like Moz.com, SemRush, Ahrefs, and BuzzSumo.
17. Knowledge of Content Management System (CMS)
The content management system helps to organize and manage your digital content creation and publishing on the internet. Some of the most popular CMS are WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, ContentStack, and Magento.
All of the content management systems are very similar. However, their application differs in the industry they serve. Once you get a basic working knowledge of it then you are all set to use the CMS like professionals. You should learn to add, edit and publish content on these platforms that will get live on your website.
Can you make a change and easily adapt to it? Fortunately, human beings can adapt to changes. It’s just that the “adaptation” part is a little difficult.
In the field of project management, you will experience several changes that will vary at different levels. Think of changes occurring in the project plan, directions, goals, project timeline, and technology to use. Prepare for adapting to these changes whenever the situation calls for it. Sometimes rigidity leads to projects sinking in no time!
19. Presentation Skills
Do you want to influence others and deliver the project plans and to the upper management in style? Then you must possess presentation skills. If you have stage fear or fear of presenting some stuff to others to say the least, you are not alone. Don’t panic.
With practice, you can learn this skill very easily. Browse through hundreds of videos on Google or YouTube about speaking skills. And while you are it, do sift through managers’ manual on the art of public speaking.
Apart from good speaking skills, you should have catchy and brief PowerPoint slides. They are a must-have to maintain the attention of your audience and deliver your message with ease.
20. Architecture of Information
You are not expected to days in making the usability reports and creating wireframes for the user experience. However, you need to understand how to classify the information and run an audit to test the issues. The logical presentation of the information is a must to streamline the project tasks and goals that can help in making the project a success. Gliffy and Marvel App are few common tools for information architecture.
21. Leadership and Culture Building
A manager must be a strong and influential figure to help in getting work done. For a project manager, it is crucial to get the project running and achieve the results in the given time. You must be a leader for your team as they will be looking to you for project details, directions, decision making, and strategic project goals.
There are many companies that are moving to the free-floating communication model and workflows that are flexible. With good leadership skills, you will be able to eliminate the roadblocks and set easy-to-follow directions to achieve the project and organizational goals.
22. Be Active on Online Project Management Forums
It is really important to learn new things in the field of project management and stay up-to-date with new terms, methodologies, and advancements. As a digital project manager, you must be active at a number of Online Project Management Forums; interact with other fellow project managers from the industry, contribute with valuable content and feedback, and build it up.
The few popular online project management forums are ProjectManagement.com, Project Smart, and Project Times. Perhaps, it is not a bad idea to mention popular LinkedIn groups on project management such as; Project Management Globe, Project Management Technology, and Project Management Link. Join them on first priority to get a scoop on the ongoing buzz these days.
Over To You
Digital Project Manager plays a vital role in any digital and tech organization. As a manager who looks after the projects, a DPM takes the leading role in delivering the same projects by output tenfold.
However, it is a long journey that requires learning and hands-on experience. Just follow the above tips to get a head start in your industry. Do let us know your feedback through the comments section below.