As the calendar year comes to a close, project managers everywhere are wondering what new opportunities will come their way in 2019. The world of Project Management is a challenging one, to begin with, as PMs juggle a seemingly endless set of activities and resources that can make or break their project regimen. Unfortunately, 75 percent of business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail, which is an ominous sign that project managers in the trenches must find innovative ways to improve their use of technologies, advanced project methodologies and digital techniques to ensure their projects don’t spiral into failure.

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And right on cue for 2019 comes the Digital Project Manager. Project managers that embrace the digital future are becoming valuable assets for IT and product development organizations. To that end, here are a few things we can expect in the year of the Digital Project Manager.

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Speed and Cost Control Dominate the Agenda

Some PMs take a more conservative approach to plan projects, creating longer timelines and more flexible budgets to ensure they meet their goals. Others take a more stringent approach to push teams to be more efficient. Either way, cost, and speed are the two most challenging aspects of project management, according to a recent survey of manufacturers. Managing project costs were cited as the top challenge by 50 percent of respondents while hitting deadlines was the top challenge for 46 percent. Leveraging the right digitally-enabled project tools like MS Project to streamline the organizational process, relying on digital team collaboration tools like Slack or Skype to hasten decision-making (53 percent of 500+ person companies now use them), and using advanced PM principles like Agile and Scrum can all help drive more flexible working environments, speed time to completion and improve overall project quality.

Modern Tech Principles Drive Back End Processes

Project managers are often routinely embedded in back-end IT processes, but using IT tools isn’t getting any easier. An ITSM Tools survey reported that 82 percent of users say IT will get harder over the next three years, so they are increasingly relying on efficient frameworks like ITIL standards to align IT strategy with business vision, manage the service delivery process across the lifecycle and develop capabilities to ensure a smooth transition of new services into operations.

And new hybrid positions such as DevOps (the bridge of DEVelopment and OPerationS) are now a model for digital project managers to embrace. The practice of DevOps aims to remove bottlenecks in software release and deployment processes, increase automation, reduce mistakes and system failures while allowing faster recovery from errors and outages. And it turns out that the popular Agile project methodology is a growing part of DevOps: 60% of the BMC/ITX survey say they are using Agile, and 38 percent use a mix of Agile and another methodology. There is obvious synergy between all of these activities, and digital project managers are making them all a part of their growing repertoire.

PMs Become More Customer-focused

Nowhere has the digital age been more impactful is in the marketing arena. The Digital Marketing Institute reports that digital channels now influence 92 percent of B2B buying decisions, and digital marketing professionals are thriving in this exciting new online age. Project managers are taking those best practices and applying them to their own disciplines. Digital project managers know how to investigate trends and consumer preferences on social media – just as 83 percent of marketers now do – to influence their own product development acumen. Digital project managers are adept in SEO principles too, which has the greatest impact on lead generation for 57 percent of B2B marketers. The more project managers understand the world connecting products to consumers, the better they can build projects that meet their customers’ changing needs.

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Big Data Makes Its Impact Too

A final important field that will impact the project management profession in the coming year is Big Data. According to the International Project Management Association (IPMA), Big Data can help project managers in a number of ways. It can help analyze project data to aid in redefining internal planning processes. It can help identify stumbling blocks in the development process and find ways to fix them. It can sort through massive amounts of quality management data to drive innovation in quality control. And it is becoming invaluable for building new risk management and risk response strategies.

We’re on the cusp of a digitally-powered 2019, and project managers will be poised to succeed if they can turn these best practices into everyday usage. Digital improvements are already enhancing profits for 56 of companies surveyed in a Gartner study, a statistic that project managers should take to heart.

PMBOK®, PMP® and PMI® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

About the Author

Christina LeeChristina Lee

Christina is a marketing communications and project management leader with over a decade of demonstrated experience and expertise. As a certified Pragmatic Marketer and Project Management Professional, Christina brings together the art and science behind these two disciplines to drive awareness and visibility to brands, while creating a functional environment that fosters creativity, operational effectiveness and high performance within teams. Her enthusiasm to work on strategic marketing initiatives and develop integrated campaigns really brings to life the creativity and interdisciplinary skills required to engage customers, prospects and business partners.

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