Like many other disciplines, the role of Project Management is reaching a new stage of evolution in the digital age. Project managers that are embracing technology advancements and digital tools are achieving better results and are more prepared to thrive in fast-moving, digitally-oriented project lifecycles. But those who aren’t able to quickly transform into “Digital Project Managers” are in danger of losing favor in their organizations. Here are some warning signs your project teams should be aware of.
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1. You’ve Lost Sight of the Customer Experience
Project managers spend a lot of their time coordinating tasks on a tactical level, so much so that they tend to forget about fundamental strategic issues like improving the customer experience. Whether customers are defined as consumers, business customers or internal constituents, how they interact with your products is as vital as the cool capabilities you build in. Improving the customer experience is consistently rated as the leading driver of digital transformation, and today’s project managers are expected to be digitally proficient enough to lead their teams to developing the right user experience. Customers are usually 57 percent through the purchase process before engaging your company, and the best way to gain insights into their preference and requirements is to engage via social and digital channels.
2. You Have a “Waterfall First” Mindset
The more traditional model of project management is the waterfall approach, where teams usually have rigid roles and projects take a more linear (and less flexible) path to completion. Today’s digital project managers, however, are focused on more dynamic methodologies such as Agile, where products are delivered in functional stages, collaboration among team members and customers is key and changes along the way are less impactful. The Project Management Institute reports that 71 percent of companies have adopted Agile approaches, and Agile projects are 28 percent more successful than traditional projects. Digital project managers can improve the quality and speed of their projects by up-leveling their traditional waterfall approach and mastering more efficient Agile concepts.
3. Projects Are Consistently Late or Over Budget
It’s no surprise that projects can run late or take on more spend than planned, but these issues are moving front and center in the project management world. In a recent survey of manufacturers, managing project costs (50 percent) was the biggest challenge to project managers, with hitting deadlines as the #2 challenge (46 percent). Delivering projects in a more digital-ready environment can be done with fewer moving parts, and with better quality and results. Digital project managers make the most of important digital tools like MS Project, as well as quality control and continuous improvement methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma, and that can make the difference between on-time/on-budget and missing the mark.
4. Digital Marketing Is Still a Mystery
No field has changed in the digital age as much as marketing, but many project managers are out of touch with the marketing tactics that can turn good products into consumer hits. Digital project managers are trained to understand what happens once a product leaves the confines of the development organization. One example is how search engine optimization (SEO) and good content help pull in new prospects. A full 57 percent of B2B marketers say that SEO has the greatest impact on lead generation, and project managers that understand the nuances of good SEO strategy are better prepared for product functionality that resonates with the needs of the end user.
5. Long Team Response Times Slow You Down
Especially for large project teams, your success can be limited by poor inter-team communication and collaboration. Daily or weekly project meetings, email correspondence, and even phone conversations aren’t always enough to keep team members in sync. That’s why 53 percent of companies with 500 or more workers are now deploying digital collaboration tools such as Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts to ensure instant connection and the ability to reduce response times to almost zero for many requests. That’s a big saving when you’re trying to deliver on a tight timeline.
6. Project Goals Aren’t Aligned With Corporate Goals
It’s one thing to know how tasks will impact your project. It’s another to know how your project will (and should) impact your corporate strategy – and what you can do about it. Unfortunately, 80 percent of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy. Digitally-minded project managers have the skill-sets to know what’s happening once the product leaves the development stage and how to ensure product managers, product marketers, and sales teams know what’s coming and when, and how they can all work towards a common organizational goal.
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It’s certainly not too late for your project managers to become fully digital-ready. Digital Project Manager training is a key first step, and continuous learning and development will keep your teams digital-ready as new developments unfold.