Project Management

Define "Digital Project Manager" for me

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Digital Project Manager ! Here we go again ! Another Tech Jargon of the day or perhaps the decade?

Another flashy term misused/abused/modified/bruised/battered by umpteen number of companies and hot shot young recruiters in their brand new suits to throw at the pool of Project Managers looking to find meaningful Project Management assignments , to add value using their real world "Project Management " Skills.

Here is an extract of a conversation, that I am having with a certain learned Digital Project Manager:-

"So what is a Digital PM? One who works remotely from a home office and never shows their face? One who works on Online Projects? "

Their response , " A Digital PM needs to have good communication skills, influencing, being a good leader, identify issues...." 

Stop !! Stop Right there !!!

How is that different from what a Project Manager is expected to do anyways?

Pin drop silence..........

And then arguments such as ...."Oh you know , Wire-framing , Debugging...organizing source code repository...."

"But that's not what a Project Manager does ...That is what a Developer is supposed to be doing".

They will not back down ..."Ah yes , digital refers to any project that deals with the internet and web technologies to deliver anything from websites to mobile apps, videos to games, eCommerce to emails, social media campaigns to search engine optimization (SEO), rich media advertising to digital outdoor advertising."

"But isn't that similar to IT Project Management?"

"No it's different . Budgets are tight , we just need to get it out the door’.Agile and Waterfall will not work ...we need Digital. It simply describes a specific context – often marketing related, within a digital agency, with quicker turnaround and smaller budgets."

By this stage, I have given up ! suffice to say , I am no wiser about Digital Project Management than I was about 10 minutes ago when I started discussing with this smart looking gentleman.

My friend continues ..." You know, digital project managers can be a Project Manager, digital strategist, web product manager, producer, sales and business development, as well as quality assurance"

I now wake up from my siesta.

"In short, what you are saying is that you need someone to replace five jobs....Or are you thinking that knowledge and use of latest technology suddenly makes human beings so intelligent that they are able to perform all the jobs themselves? Why does anyone need to work as a Project Manager then? We might as well work for ourselves from the comfort of our own home."

Okay , that conversation did not give me what I wanted so I researched more online. (Hint : I am using my Digital PM skills .....)

Another gentleman by the name of Osman Gani explains Digital Project Management

“It’s a streamlined process of managing online projects from concept to execution within budget and in a timely fashion. The end result is ensuring that businesses utilizing the service reach their online marketing goals and other goals that were put forward. This is accomplished by utilizing creative and technical skills, providing proper support and maintenance, as well as closely working with designers, developers, and other specialists as a unified team. Managing web projects involves certain steps to ensure successful completion. Scoping, cost estimation, risk and issue analysis, resourcing, identifying strategies to be employed, quality assurance are just some of the elementary considerations.”

I can sense that your reactions on reading the paragraph above are no less cynical than my own. All I am asking here is " Tell me something that I currently don't do as a Project Manager, or even an IT Project Manager?"

So what questions should you expect in a job description, expect to be asked in an interview /or are expected to list in your resume,  should you desire to apply for a Digital Project Manager's job ?

  • Do you use Social Media like facebook, twitter, linkedIn ?
  • Have you managed virtual teams? ( Code word for "Talk to people through Video Conference or Skype for an hour a week and build relationships to ensure a successful project ) - This incidentally also takes me back to a George Clooney Movie "Up in the Air", where Anna Kendrick suggests firing the employees virtually, with total and complete disregard for human emotions. 
  • Do you use Collaborative tools like Sharepoint , Office 360, Confluence, Jira..<> ? ( Code word for "push out project documents and pray that someone looks at it in the near future and comments on them )
  • Have you managed Cloud and SaaS projects? Or IaaS, or PaaS ? ( excellent code words for "I will let someone else manage my data and infrastructure and keep my overheads low. I will never know where exactly my data is , but I don't really care because I am making lump sum payments".
  • Do you use CMS tools like Wordpress? Drupal?  (Code word for "Hey ! it seems you are good at developing websites. We really don't need the developer that will charge $100K and we will pay you 80K to be the PM as well as the developer" )
  • Do you use Google Analytics? ( Don't worry about auditing the efficiency or quality  of work or the resources, or even get to know your team . After-all Management needs to look at Statistics and Tools provide the statistics. What good is a PM without reporting tools , right?
  • Do you understand FTP ? (Code word for "You will send your scope and requirements across the Atlantic Ocean to some country which will do all the grunt work for you and they will send back another file which you will ask your team to review".
  • Are you good at MS Office Suite  eg Visio/Powerpoint? ( Code words for " Do you know how to draw pretty pictures digitally to pull wool over the eyes of your sponsors and mask the real status of your projects or cleverly package your project to show them what they want to see?" )
  • Finally , the question that sets us Traditional "boring" PMs apart from the Digital PMs? They know how to use an automated Project Management Tool , A piece of software that does absolutely everything for them with regards to project management. "Hurray !" Now you can say goodbye to that fat paycheck that you have been demanding because the Software Application can do everything that a PM does. 

So how exactly companies promote their online Project Management tools? 

" Teams work best when 'Resources' collaborate in the one location ....."

Hang on ? What's a resource?  Oh Yes ! These are human beings of flesh and blood but we don't need to know about them. we can simply slide a task from one resource to the other and voila ! we have just Leveled this resource, fast tracked or crashed the project !! We did not even have to call them up and confirm ! We have saved the company $$$.

Okay fine , How do your "resources" collaborate in the one location ? Ah Yes ! they login to your online software and need to fill in their bits and see what is happening in the project .

So what problem am I solving by using this Project Management Software? ah yes ....the resource does not know about the project priorities and has no oversight of the schedules. So As a "Digital Project Manager" I am making them see the "light " . 

Not to mention that while I am using this tool ,  I am also crossing fingers that due to such effective "Digital Project Management" , I will keep all my stakeholders happy and miraculously all my "resources" will be motivated and contribute to the success of the projects.

So coming back to either reading the Job Description or attending the interview and while you are contemplating on taking a couple of aspirins for your throbbing migraine, you come across, or are asked, the most important bits in the "Desirable" (not Mandatory) skills for the job role. Hallelujah ! this is what a PM does in reality !!

  • Do you have Formal Project Management qualifications like Prince2 or PMP?
  • Can you demonstrate Stakeholder Management and Negotiation skills?
  • Do you do Financial Management? 
  • Are you good at developing strategic Partnerships and Vendor Management?

I have used most of  the collaborative tools above, sometimes with cynicism, sometimes with appreciation, barring the automated "Project Management System" which I am sure a future employer may force down my throat and I may be compelled to use it out of whatever situation I am in at that time.

Does this make me a Digital Project Manager?  How am I different to a normal Project Manager who uses technology to complement their work?

We have already seen how social media has already made us into robots and now we are a far cry from dating or interacting with friends the traditional way.

The advocates of Online Project Management Tools go one step further to drive the dagger deeper in your heart with this announcement "Traditional Project Management is dead . click on the button below to see how easy it is to manage projects using our revolutionary new software ".

Posted on: December 13, 2017 08:06 PM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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Interesting article, Deepesh. Thanks for posting.

Suppose its similar to AgilePM ... next article on #apm :)

Oh how much would Sergio love that wouldn't he Andrew ....??

Here I am my friends. Thank you very much for the post. I bothered a lot to PMI group of authors of new standards like PMBOK Guide to avoid things like something project manager of something project management. Why? Because I can demonstrate that it does not exists but more because I firmly believe this type of things jeopardizes the work of all of us and mainly the intentions of people that need to find a job.

Anybody remember extreme project management?

Very good, thanks for sharing

Deepesh, thanks for an articulate, entertaining and somewhat facetious diatribe against the ignorant software vendors who don’t have a clue about real PM!

A few years ago, at a PMI® North American Congress, I had this exchange with one of the major software vendor’s representative.

Me, “You know, if you inserted a ‘summary only’ column to the left of your first wide column and called it ‘Deliverable’, you would be the first pm-software package to be in compliance with industry standards.”

Rep, “Oh, we don’t change our software for any specific industry.”

Me (smiling in disbelief at what I just heard), “Have a nice day.”
Invitation to every PM reading this post, make the opening statement to every software vendor you meet. Let me know when one of them says, “You know that’s a great idea!”


Good one

Interesting Article

This is an interesting new term I haven't used before, and I'm glad that somebody decided to explain it.

Very entertaining contribution, Deepesh. Thanks for that.
I am sure the "Digital Project Manager" is on a rise and we will see online courses(of course) and "official" certifications on that one soon ... ;)

Whenever I come across these creative PM titles like 'Digital Project Manager' or 'Cloud Project Manager' or 'Agile Project Manager' or something else, it gives me a vibe I do not have the adequate skills for the role. Also it looks like recruiters and interviewers seem to be reluctant to even shortlist a resume if these jargons are not available. While they themselves have a limited understanding of the relevant skills and competency needed for these roles.

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