The world has already moved online. Has your job moved with it? Where do project managers work nowadays? Gone are the days of managing work using pen and paper, whiteboards and dry erase markers, sticky notes, and your cubicle walls. And saving Microsoft Word documents and spreadsheets in a folder on your computer is a thing of the past.
Nearly 90% of Americans use the Internet, and 77% have a smartphone in their pocket, according to the Pew Research Center. More people than ever can access, build, and manage digital products. The most successful companies are taking advantage of that massive audience and capability.
Today's project managers are moving their teams and processes online to keep up with the competition and deliver at a faster pace than ever before. Using online project management, collaboration software and cloud file storage systems, work is getting done efficiently and with better results. These digital project managers are the new faces of project management, and if you’re looking to dive into the field, you need to start preparing now.
Luckily, we've compiled everything you need to know about being a digital project manager from salary to skill set. So, put the pen down (you're digital now, remember?) and study up on what it takes to become a digital project manager.
1. What is digital project management?
So just what is digital project management? It’s a streamlined process of managing online projects from concept to completion, within budget and using a certain amount of resources. It involves planning, delegating, tracking, reviewing, and measuring results — usually all done using project management software. The goal of every project is different, but the overarching objective is to grow business and see valuable ROI from the project. Types of projects can range from events to digital content projects.
Digital projects come in all shapes and sizes. They can include:
- Mobile apps
- Social media
- Search engine optimization
2. What does a digital project manager do?
The role of a digital project manager is to ensure all of the necessary deliverables for a project are completed and handed over on time and on budget. More recently, project managers have become responsible for making sure the project also aligns with business goals. And, for certain roles, understanding how to manage project managers is important, too.
Digital project managers make sure all elements of the project are moving along smoothly. This can include:
- Creating and communicating a project plan, schedule, and budget
- Assigning tasks and deadlines
- Scheduling frequent check-ins
- Clearing roadblocks
- Escalating challenges when necessary
- Providing status reports to executives or the PMO Director
- Managing project scope
- QAing all project deliverables
- Contributing to client proposals and quotes
- Assessing and evaluating project success
3. What does a digital project manager job description look like?
Good question! Digital project manager job descriptions can range based on the type of project and the tool the company uses to manage those projects. Some companies will require you to already have experience with a specific tool. Others will train the right candidate on the tool.
Here is a typical digital project manager job description:
We are looking for a project manager with at least 3-5 years of project management experience. Qualified candidates will have experience with planning, directing, and coordinating technology projects and teams. This position reports to the PMO Director. The successful candidate will be capable of interfacing with professionals at the highest organizational levels within the client base.
This job description reads similar to that for a traditional project manager, but note the key phrase in the second sentence: technology projects and teams. It’s essential for digital project managers to be up-to-date on today’s technology.
4. What skills are needed for digital project management?
Several digital project manager skills are acquired through basic work experience and collaboration. Skills such as time management, resource management, project communication management, planning, organizing, and delegating can be developed in almost any role. However, there are several digital project management courses, books, and certificates you can obtain online to help you stand out against the competition. Check out our blog post on 5 Online Project Management Courses for Beginners for a full list of project management courses and certifications and how to become a certified project manager.
The skillset of every digital project manager is different and based on their experience and background. Make sure you are constantly learning how to improve your project management skills. However, here are some skills you might see listed in the job requirements for a digital project manager:
- Strong communication skills
- Problem solver
- Attention to detail
- Strong organizational skills
- Ability to multi-task and prioritize
- Goal- and results-driven
- Get things done
- Manage cross-functional teams
- Coordinate and facilitate meetings and reviews
- Simplify complex workflows
5. How much does a digital project manager make?
With all these responsibilities, you may be wondering: how much do project managers make, in general? Or how much does an IT project manager make (go ahead and check out our guide on how to become an IT project manager, too)? A digital project manager salary can range anywhere from $59,000 to $134,000 per year. The average is about $90,000 per year. Salary usually varies depending on the role of the digital project manager, location, and experience.
6. Is there a digital project management methodology?
Each project manager employs a different digital project management process, based on the organization, the team, and the project. No two projects will be the same, and they will likely require unique processes or methodologies.
Luckily, there are several to choose from. Some of the most popular project management methodologies fall into either waterfall or agile. Waterfall methodologies are a much more traditional project management approach — building scopes, managing resources, and working in phases. This process is popular because it’s straightforward and sequential. It works particularly well for construction projects where one thing needs to be completed (the frame) before another thing can be started (the roof).
Agile is a much more evolved methodology, built on the backbone of flexibility and collaboration. While waterfall has a strict plan to follow, agile approaches give teams the ability to respond to change quickly and efficiently. This also allows the client or stakeholder to come in at different stages and make sure their expectations are being met before moving forward.
If you'd like to learn more about methodologies, read The Beginner's Guide to Project Management Methodologies.
7. What are digital project management tools?
Cloud-based project management and collaboration tools allow project managers to harness the full power of digital project management. Serving as a single source of truth, they show you exactly where project status stands in real time.
These tools allow you to communicate with team members, executive stakeholders, external collaborators, and more with real, up-to-the-minute data. That means you can cut out status update meetings, saving your team time to do what they do best: execute.
Keep all your documents, images, and information in a cloud-based project management tool and/or file storage tool so people can download the files they need right when they need them — without badgering you. Everything is in one centralized location, so they can move forward without waiting for a response and keep their assignments on track.
Work and feedback are all kept in the same place, so you can reference it as often as necessary. No arguments over who said what or who’s responsible for what, since everything is clearly documented in one place everyone can access.
Has a key team member unexpectedly taken leave for a few days? That can cause a huge delay in your schedule. Using project management tools with Gantt charts gives you easy ways to remedy your situation. Look at your Gantt chart to see if you can afford to wait for your team member to return. If you can wait, rearrange the tasks on your Gantt chart to reflect your new deliverable dates and let the team know they should check the updated schedule.
If you can't wait, reassign the task. Since the original assignee has been tracking their progress in the online project management tool, the new assignee should have all the information they need to easily pick up where their teammate left off.
When you organize your projects and tasks in an online project management tool shared with your team, stakeholders can easily find out where a work project stands. Everyone has visibility into who’s assigned to what, when tasks are due, what stage work is in, who’s bottlenecking progress, and what's coming next. You're empowering your team by giving them the knowledge they need to be effective.
If you're looking at trying out a new digital project management tool with all of the above features, start a 2-week free trial of Wrike!
Other digital project management resources:
- The Successful Digital PM, Part 1: What is a Digital Project Manager’s Role?
- What Is a Digital Project Manager?
- Top 20 Skills for Digital Project Managers in 2018
What does being a digital project manager mean to you?
If you've already made the switch to digital project management, share your story. What has changed since you moved work to the cloud?