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With global e-commerce trade booming and the world’s first trillion-dollar companies being tech-based, it’s no surprise that a divergence has occurred between the “traditional” project manager and the new kid on the PM block, the digital project manager.

Though there is naturally a lot of crossover between the standard project management roles, a digital project manager also requires various competences that wouldn’t be necessary in a more physical environment, as well as a greater understanding of the potential of online project management software, though the definition of the role goes a lot deeper than that. So, what is a digital project manager? Here are some points that set them apart.

Creating digital solutions

The answer to the question, “what is a digital project manager?” could very easily be answered with: they create digital solutions for digital challenges. But what does that mean in reality? Digital challenges are those associated with the tech world, including tasks such as programming, networking, digital marketing and software development. To successfully address the needs of a project, a digital project manager must be able to understand these unique requirements and what the array of possible solutions are.

Navigating forms of communication

One of the key points of divergence between digital project management and its more traditional kin is the rapid rise of online communication and remote working. Getting the most out of a team involves being able to understand each member’s motivations, preferred communication style and spotting issues before they become critical. Achieving this through e-mail or project management programs is not a simple task and requires focus and dedication to develop an effective management rapport. For digital project managers however, there really is no other choice, remote work and distance communication have become the norm and that’s a trend that is very unlikely to slow down.

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Understanding digital project progression

There can be considerable differences in how digital projects progress from their formation through to completion. They can often use digital processes and terminology themselves, creating a “double-lock” of tech-speak, for example a wireframe is what underpins the different pieces of a website’s build but can also be expanded to apply the same meaning to a digital project’s overall plan. In general, a digital project will go through the following steps:

  1. Discovery: Identifying the issue that needs to be solved and generating possible solutions.
  2. Preparation: Outlining the scope and goals of the project.
  3. Development: Creating code and design features.
  4. Testing: Running beta-testing for bugs and reiterating where necessary.
  5. Delivery: Ensuring functionality is as planned and handing over product to end-user.

Being fluent in the language of different fields

While project managers in most fields are required to be adept at speaking the language of that industry, this is especially true in the digital world. Digital project managers can come from non-tech fields and bring their skills to the digital arena, but it would still be necessary for them to get up to speed with the language being used. This is both to understand the language and terminology of their team as well as being able to break things down for stakeholders who may be unversed in the intricacies of programming or digital marketing metrics, for example.


Also published on Medium.