There is more to being a project manager than drawing pretty plans, barking out orders to team members and sitting in your office sipping diet soda.
Project management is about leadership. It’s about getting stuff done through the application of skills, tools specialized techniques to meet project deadlines and project requirements.
The professional digital project manager is a master of different skills – a Jack or Jill of myriad talents. What sets the best aside is that they get a superb job done, in time, within specifications and budgetary constraints.
Getting to that level takes time, dedication and experience. However, six critical digital project management skills separate the pros from wannabes. Master them, and you’ll be on your way to being a sought-after project manager in 2018 and beyond.
- Leadership skills
- Communication Mastery
- Sharp time management
- Ability to properly plan
- Stellar negotiation skills
- Subject matter expertise, etc.
Why do these skills matter and how do you hone, develop and demonstrate them in your work? Let’s get to that below.
Top digital project management skills
Leadership is not about a fancy title, corner office or your fat check. It’s about vision.
Capable leaders set the tone for their teams. They motivate, serve, coach and inspire team-mates to be the best and achieve results together. A leader is like a maestro symphony conductor. She knows her stuff, her team and the actions to take to deliver stunning performance.
Leadership is not about title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire teammates and customers.
~ Robin S. Sharma
Leadership is about providing vision, a roadmap for success and serving your team to get to that goal. As a leader, you mentor, galvanize your team and enforce processes to keep everyone in line.
It doesn’t matter what individual team-mates do, ultimately, the BUCK STOPS WITH YOU! You’re responsible for your team’s actions and the final result.
Projects crumble under the weight of minutiae without proper plans.
A plan outlines and organizes tasks in the right order, giving each duty the proper weight to hit the desired outcome.
Digital project managers must give planning the serious attention it deserves. Monitor progress each step of the way and make tweaks when necessary.
No plan survives the battlefield as one famous saying goes. It’s your job as the team leader to adapt strategies to each situation, keeping in mind the ultimate goal.
To this end, create statements of work, estimate timelines, plan out your days, keep status docs up to date and focus on the mission to readjust when necessary.
Plan for success, for disasters and strategize to the extent that you’re always ten steps ahead and know what’s next. Keep back up plans as well. To quote Murphy’s Law,
“whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Be prepared when it does.
Effective communication is the backbone of any undertaking that involves different stakeholders. It’s a MUST HAVE SKILL in the digital project manager’s toolkit.
Communication ensures everyone is on the same page. A good project manager must communicate clearly and learn to listen because communication is a two-way street.
Your team requires the right information to operate. Your clients need project updates. It’s your job as the PM to create as many touchpoints with all stakeholders as possible. No single client or even team member ever complained from too much communication. A breakdown in proper contact, however, will spell doom for your working relationship.
Additionally, it’s essential to adapt your communication system to particular members and situations. People react differently to different forms of connection. Some respond well to brief written updates while others prefer face to face sit-downs. Tailor your communication appropriately.
The underlying principle, however, is that with the right message, right timing to the right people and through the proper channels, your team can overcome any hurdle and deliver outstanding results.
4. Subject matter expertise
Savvy project managers are masters in different trades. They know enough about each aspect of the project to create a plan, manage and execute it correctly with the team, platforms and systems available.
They also know their limitations.
You must know a bit about everything to be a competent digital project manager. That knowledge arms you with the skill to competently give project estimates, explain any holdups to clients and estimate the length and cost of each project.
Seek to understand how things work and tie together. Learn about strategy, product design, social media, development, etc. Be a knowledge sponge to make a proficient digital project manager.
The result of your learning and dedication is a successful project delivery every time!
Negotiation is about building consensus and bringing disparate groups with competing interests to rally together.
Digital project managers negotiate daily. You negotiate deadlines with clients, tasks priorities with team members, resources with your stakeholders, etc.
Learn to create win-win situations in any negotiation without burning any bridges. Compromise where necessary and hold firm without damaging relations.
6. Time management
Time management is a crucial skill for any professional and more so to project managers. There are a million things to do each day, but only a few that move the project forward. You must identify and prioritize critical tasks.
Determine and communicate how and on what other people spend their time. Learn how and when to say no if the situation calls for it.
It’s easy to get buried in urgent tasks on a project. Savvy digital project managers resist the urge and focus on the top 20% tasks that deliver results. Set time aside each day for critical functions and stick to your guns.
To quote White Rose from the Tv show Mr. Robot:
“There are always deadlines. There are always ticking clocks. That is why you must learn to manage your time.”
Heed that sage advice.
With these skills, you’re well armed to take on any project. Your team and clients will love you and refer you to their friends, colleagues and business associates. Ultimately, you become an invaluable member to any group you join because you get stuff done.
What other project management skills do you look for in others? Which ones are you trying to develop? Let us know in the comment section below and join the conversation on social media.