Digital Transformation Hits the Project Management Profession Head On

Companies that have transformed their business processes to meet the rigors of the digital world are finding it much easier to compete. They move more nimbly, target customers more accurately, produce better products and use technology to streamline every business process. Digital transformation is hitting almost every segment of traditional businesses, and nowhere is it more evident these days than the project management profession.

Digital transformation itself is already producing organizational benefits across the board. According to the Altimeter Group’s State of Digital Transformation Report, 41 percent of companies that digitally transform experience increased market share; 37 percent see increased customer engagement in digital channels; 37 percent have more positive employee morale; and 30 percent experience increased customer revenue.

And now, the digital wave is hitting the day-to-day activities of project management. Digital project managers—those who embrace technology innovation and advanced digital techniques—develop a more comprehensive view of the project management lifecycle and understand how to leverage people, processes and technology to help their organizations achieve digital transformation. The landscape is changing rapidly, and project management professionals must learn to adapt.

Modern Project Management Concepts Yield Better Results

Traditional project management has never been easy. A Harvard Business Review study that analyzed 1,471 IT projects found that five in six projects had a cost overrun of 200 percent on average and a schedule overrun of almost 70 percent. When projects run behind and exceed their spend, it impacts everything from internal IT rollouts (imagine an order processing system that can’t keep up with sales) to customer-facing product rollouts (imagine a mobile software upgrade meant to curb security vulnerabilities delayed by days or even weeks).

Digital project managers leverage digital know-how to help transform their companies into high-performance machines. High-performing organizations, in fact, successfully complete 89 percent of their projects, while low performers complete only 36 percent, according to PMI. And what are the characteristics of high-performing project management teams?

They rethink traditional project management methodologies like waterfall and embrace more flexible concepts like Agile, where products are delivered in functional stages and collaboration among team members and customers is a core focus. PMI reports that 71 percent of companies have already adopted Agile approaches, and Agile projects are 28 percent more successful than traditional projects.

They embrace quality control and continuous improvement philosophies such as Lean Six Sigma, where enhancements to a process are built into a “Define, Measure, Analyze, Control and Improve” phased approach.

They master PM tools such as Microsoft Project to manage resources and assignments throughout the project lifecycle, keep management apprised of status with fine-tuned reporting and learn to manage budgets, timelines and anticipate risk.

They keep their skills sharp with fundamental project tools such as Microsoft Excel, leveraging statistical, analytical and data visualization skills using pivot tables, interactive dashboards, charts, Power BI and more.

They know how Big Data can improve their project management processes. Data means everything, and they master Hadoop and Big Data analytics platforms to enrich their understanding of customer preferences and other key insights. More than 85 percent of respondents in a recent survey say that their firms have started programs to create data-driven cultures. So there is a lot to gain.

The Benefits of Digital Marketing Know-how

Project managers are also learning to take a cue from their marketing counterparts. Digital marketers are adept at a wide range of digital skills, from SEO and pay-per-click strategies to finessing social channels, email and content marketing to better understand customer motivations. Digital channels are, after all, critical to selling products, as they now influence 92 percent of B2B buying decisions. Digital project managers similarly can master these techniques to glean insights into what happens when products leave the development organization and hit the outside world.

PMs should also master things like SEO to see how consumers respond to different messages, content and positioning. PMs who embrace this thinking are better prepared for product functionality that resonates with the needs of the end user, and understanding how the right code and content can influence SEO results drives better marketing results later in the process (57 percent of B2B marketers say that SEO has the greatest impact on lead generation). Content is equally important, since 45 percent of all companies say content marketing is highly integrated with SEO strategy, as it can make the difference between a successful and failed campaign. In the end, these marketing skills can help improve the customer experience, which is consistently rated as the #1 leading driver of digital transformation.

Digital Project Management Comes of Age

When digital transformation and vital functions like project management hit each other head on, the results can be game changing. Project managers should embrace all of these innovative digital models and tools to make their jobs as impactful to the organization as they can be.

About the Author

Sween GilotraSween Gilotra

Sween Gilotra is an Associate Product Manager at Simplilearn. She has over three years of experience in various industries including technology and e-learning. Sween follows the key trends in digital marketing, project management and Agile and Scrum very closely.

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