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Topics: Career Development, Digital Project Management, Leadership
Project management skills in a digital era
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In a digital era, project managers are called to enhance and acquire new skills that will help them manage transformation projects in support of new digital technologies. What skill set and competencies do you think project managers should have? How do you suggest them to acquire these skills and competencies? What role has ethics in these transformative times?
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There are not new skills to be adquired related to project management itself. Related to ethic, the point is following the organizational code of ethic stated for the organization where you are working for. A code of ethic that is not legally actionable has no value and a credential that is based on that, too. That is the deference between other real professional credentials you can find in domains like medicine, law, etc.
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Digital transformation is not only the implementation of a variety of automation tools or technological innovation, it is also a change of mindset. Successful projects must have the acceptance from end users, whether they are members of the organization or the organizations to whom the end result is intended. So for me the key word is change, and consequently resistance to change. so I think the skills that a project manager will have to deepen is change management, ways to mitigate it and overcome the resistance to change. This skills are easily acquired with training through the many providers in the area. Another way to solve this is hiring an expert in change management to collaborate with the project management.
As we live in a VUCA world, this fast changes bring many ethics issues that could undermine the success of the project, more destruction of jobs, scientific research that may not be understood by stakeholders, there is also a set of skills at ethics level that must be taken in account, is the society prepared for the project? If not, a marketing campaign can help the public opinion to accept the project?
So the next couple of skills that I visualize from this, is marketing analysis and ethics policy.
In the end is the project it self that will determine the precise skills that the project manager should develop.
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I found that in digital transformations some skills are more critical than others. I do not think that are new skills, but we need to develop deeper.
1. Eable to learn by experimenting. in these kind of transformation you need to explore continuisly, it is a key to make fast interactions and learn to improve
2. Be more aware of accepting errors from the team. As being part of experimental process that you need to move faster from one side to another, you need go gain trust with the team and understand that in this environment teams are moving faster and with more risk.
3. change management. flexibility and change mover. you need to move faster under pressure and accept continuos changes. adaptability to changes and being a facilitator with the team.
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With respect specifically to digital transformation, I strongly believe that a PM must have a mindset focusing on system architecture and useful information over raw data.

I have seen an emphasis on trying to digitize everything, model what was once a document, link systems, and create digital dashboards with no real understanding of the underlying functionality gained. It is also very easy to hide the lack of achieving any real functionality, by demonstrating flashy looking widgets, or what we once called dancing baloney.

You can get a masters level certificate in Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), but I think that most importantly, a PM needs to be thinking several steps ahead and focusing on how will I use this technology, rather than falling into the trap of doing a lot of work to show early results, and figure out how to use it later.

I've come up with lots of phrases to describe how the difference between speed and velocity is that velocity includes a direction, such as Sprints to Nowhere.
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High Work integrity and communication/interpersonal skills are key
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Just reading a Book "Digital Project Management " by Taylor Olson

Does not talk about any new skills, dissimilar to what Normal Project Managers would need to successfully deliver projects.

Having said that , Digital PM is focused on delivering Web Based Projects primarily for Digital Agencies and needs to be conversant with the Jargon used in such environments

There is a lot of Agile thrown into the mix and so it would require an Agile Mindset to be able to thrive in a very faced paced environment with knowledge of SEO , Analytics, Wire-frames , etc among other things .
And your closest associate will be an Information Architect in your Digital Delivery journey.

But For some bizarre reason, unknown to me , the Pay package offered to Digital PM seems less than a traditional PM . Is there an understanding that this is a much Junior Project Management Role ? it certainly does not seem so after reading the book.
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The “Strategic and Business Management” segment of the PMI Talent Triangle represents (at a high-level) the type of skills and competencies a PM needs in the so-called “digital transformation” era. In my opinion, the degree of change that occurs in these types of projects requires a PM to have awareness (i.e., acumen) in the activities, processes, life-cycles, and language used in the domains the project will be navigating.

This doesn’t mean that the PM is an expert in the domains; it just means they can navigate and quickly adapt within the domains of concern. Without this acumen (which I call Architectural Awareness) the PM can become a bottleneck, thus potentially affecting outcomes. From an ethical point of view, the architecturally aware PM needs to recognize that their acumen is a tool purposed to assist one in leading and challenging-out resolutions to the success of the project. It is not a license to represent oneself as an expert to dictate specific delivery actions, as that has high potential to cross ethical lines.
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What is this "digital era"?
Is it the era that started with the morse code telegraph in the 19th Century?
Or maybe it started with the computer developed to work on cracking the enigma code in WWII?
Or does it date from the first commercial computers in the 1950s?
Or does it date from more recently when someone coined the term and all the hyperventilation started?
I am puzzled!

In any event, it would impact on the work of the Project Team, not the Project Manager. Ref ISO 21500, 3.8 Stakeholders and project organization.

Project Managers will continue to make use of whatever 'digital' tools are available to assist in their work.
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I'm with Graeme on this one. We've been doing digital transformation for a long time. The skills remain the same. We simply know more about what needs to be included (stakeholders, risks, organizational change) to maximize or ensure success.

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