Project managers have always been invaluable workhorses in development and IT organizations, but lately many PMs are moving beyond their tactical expertise and are looking to be more strategic players. The main impetus behind this movement is digital transformation. As companies streamline every conceivable process and application with digital tools, project managers must similarly boost their digital resumes to keep pace with the change.
The exciting new role is the Digital Project Manager. Digital project managers apply a blueprint for a digital transformation framework that includes people, processes and technology to drive a positive impact on their companies. Following are some of the key skills that today’s project managers can embrace to improve their digital awareness and skills for the changing landscape.
Project managers who understand how products are marketed in today’s digital world are that much more proficient in building products that are properly designed for discerning customers. Digital project managers can learn to master every facet of the digital marketing domain, from monitoring social media data (83 percent of all marketers now actively pursue social media marketing initiatives) to understanding search engine optimization (which has the greatest impact on lead generation for 57 percent of B2B marketers) to maximize the value of software coding that makes products more accessible and enjoyable for end users.
Agile and Scrum
Flexibility and efficiency are the names of the game for today’s project managers, and they are relying on more progressive methodologies to get the job done. Agile is the popular project management approach that is well suited for projects that are complex and uncertain, where PMs prefer delivery in functional stages and changes that can be made more easily along the way. Agile-based projects have been shown to be 28 percent more successful than traditional projects, making Agile one of the most sought-after skillsets for the PM field.
Agile can be enhanced when its principles are combined with another advanced methodology called Scrum, which empowers project managers to effectively coordinate the activities of cross-functional teams and produce working code in phases at the end of each iteration or “sprint.” According to the State of Scrum Report, 62 percent of organizations surveyed have an in-house Scrum coach, and 89 percent of Agile users employ the Scrum approach. These approaches also create a more enjoyable and empowering workplace for project managers and their teams.
The business of analyzing data has moved into almost every segment of today’s organizations, and project management is no exception. According to the International Project Management Association (IPMA), Big Data can help project managers on multiple fronts: helping to create insights on how to redefine internal planning processes; optimize team development and configuration; troubleshoot potential process bottlenecks; develop techniques and procedures for creating risk response strategies; and analyzing quality management data to develop better standards and quality control techniques.
Quality Control with Lean Six Sigma
As organizations strive for continuous improvement, they are increasingly seeking project managers that can employ problem-solving and business know-how to enhance internal processes. Lean Six Sigma certification helps train project managers to optimize end-to-end processes to increase quality and drive maximum value in their businesses. Lean Six Sigma takes a structured approach called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) to help project managers measure current performance, identify root causes of issues, and generate and implement quality projects.
Business Productivity Tools
At the heart of digital project management activities is the use of business productivity tools that help streamline project tasks, communication, and collaboration among team members. Microsoft Project skills help project managers more effectively manage their internal resources in a way that keeps them on a budget (managing project costs is the biggest challenge for half of manufacturing project managers), within expected timelines and mitigating risk along the way.
Other key skills that organizations consistently look for include basic office productivity and data management tools like Microsoft Excel. Excel certification courses help project managers hone their expertise in creating and maintaining complex spreadsheets; formatting cells, ranges and tables; and working with advanced formulas and tools, including macros, calculations, graphics, and pivot tools.
And for keeping teams in sync, project managers are turning to real-time project collaboration tools like Slack and Google Hangouts, which empower instant interaction among project team members and the ability to move through tasks far faster than waiting for the next Scrum meeting. More than half of all organizations over 500 employees now deploy collaboration tools like these.
Upskilling Makes the Difference
Digital Project Management certification is the new all-encompassing method for mastering the wide range of needed skills covered here. But other aspiring project managers can enhance their core skills with other courses, including the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification for complex projects or the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) degree for those just looking to get started.
No matter which path you choose, digital and tech skills will bring the promise of better job opportunities and more strategic roles in whatever organization you join.