We live in a digital world, and much of the work we do now is digital. Therefore, when managing a digital project, it can help to employ a digital project manager who knows the online business landscape, is adept at managing a computer savvy workforce and is familiar with modern online project management tools.
A digital project manager isn’t that different than a traditional project manager. They manage tasks and other project-related duties, such as scheduling milestones, reporting to stakeholders and, of course, delivering projects on time within scope and budget.
But digital project managers are working on more web-based projects. They’re project managers who make sure things are getting done in a digital space.
And that digital space is growing. Worldwide retail e-commerce sales are projected to grow to $4.88 trillion in 2021. With the growth of online marketing and e-commerce, there is an equally expanding need for digital project managers to meet that need.
Where Are Digital Project Managers Working?
You might think of digital marketing as a discipline exclusive to high-tech and software companies. But almost all commercial enterprises have an online presence, and with it comes an opportunity for a digital project manager.
Any company that drives sales through its website via search engine optimization, search engine marketing, mobile technologies, email newsletter marketing, social media marketing and copywriting may want to seek the help of a digital project manager.
What Does a Digital Project Manager Do?
Most commonly, you’ll find a digital project manager running projects to build websites or mobile apps. These projects run similarly to any other project, but there are subtle differences.
Digital project management follows these five steps:
- Discovery: This is the idea-generating stage, where new concepts are explored, and solutions are identified.
- Planning: Create a wireframe to determine the project’s scope.
- Production: Move onto beta testing the product and working on front-end coding.
- Deployment: How is your product performing once it’s gone live? Make evaluations and fixes based on those observations and tests.
- Maintenance: The project doesn’t have a hard ending but remains open for support throughout its life.
The digital project manager will assess risk, plan the work and coordinating tasks, lead teams and keep the project on track. However, those are basic responsibilities of anyone managing a project. The digital project manager will also be involved in the following:
- Business Development: Besides managing the team and the project, digital project managers work with clients and understand their needs. This includes building a foundation of trust. In fact, the project manager’s relationship with the client might have more influence on them than even the sales team.
- Digital Strategy: Through knowledge of web architecture, user experience, design, content, search engine optimization, social media and analytics, digital project managers can help clients gain a clear digital strategy as they guide them through the discovery and design process.
- Account Management: Digital project managers can set and adjust the client’s expectations, in terms of prioritizing issues for the team and tasks that need to be delegated. They’ll also likely be required to deliver bad news to the client. This is where their communication and people skills will need to dovetail with those of being an account manager.
- Quality Assurance: The product being produced, be it a website, app or something else, will have to achieve certain standards. Project managers manage the quality assurance testing to make sure those standards are being met, and when they’re not, adjusting the work to resolve whatever issues that might spring up.
What Are the Tools & Skills Required for Digital Project Managers?
Again, the digital project manager is going to have a slightly different skill set than the traditional project manager. The tools and skills of a digital project manager include the following.
- Content Management System: This is a platform for a website that makes it simple to apply changes to the site. It’s a user-friendly tool, which means small changes can be done by the digital project manager, freeing up time for the developers to work on more complicated fixes.
- Information Architecture: Knowledge of the structure and categorization of digital information is key to helping the team work more efficiently.
- Interpretation of Analytics: Digital project managers need to know how to use and digest data gathered by tools like Google Analytics, as they indicate how the website is performing. The data from analytics is crucial for informing changes that might make a project perform better.
- HTML: Being able to write HTML and other codes gives the digital project manager the ability to take small tasks away from the developers and do them personally, so the team can devote itself to more complex tasks. This is especially useful if the project is falling behind schedule.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Being able to get a website to rank on Google and other search engines is crucial to success online. But this attribute isn’t always on the forefront of a programmer’s mind when they’re designing the site. There are SEO tools that a digital project manager must familiarize themselves with to promote the website as best they can.
- Social Media: Another way to drive traffic to a site and enhance a brand online is through social media. Knowing platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, and knowing what engages and what doesn’t, is all key for digital project managers to understand.
Salary Expectations and Job Description for Digital Project Manager
According to thedigitalprojectmanager.com, the national average range for the salary employee digital project manager is between $30,000 and $150,000 annually in the United States, depending on location and experience. The highest salary in the survey came from Palo Alto, California.
If they’re working as a contractor, the daily rate can range from $150 to $800. But the rate is determined on such variables as experience, industry and location.
Digital project managers are responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of one or more digital projects, which can include site launch, online tools, web applications, advertising campaigns and more. They’ll be expected to be tech-savvy professionals, with a deep knowledge of how technology works to achieve business goals.
Digital project managers are methodical, have great time management and communication skills, and can collaborate effectively to manage and deliver projects within quality, time and budget requirements.
Responsibilities for digital project managers include being able to provide end-to-end project management, including scope, budget, detailed planning and monitoring of project progress. They also will facilitate collaboration with internal teams to design, develop and implement project plans.
Of course, the digital project manager is responsible for delivering projects on time and within budget, but also to the quality standards set by clients. This involves the development of support documentation, such as risk logs and requirement specifications, to ensure that actual progress is meeting planned progress.
Other communications include creating channels to communicate with the team, to get their buy-in on the project and to make sure they’re clear on all tasks delegated to them.
Digital project managers highlight risk and develop plans to deal proactively with these issues when and if they arise during the project to resolve them. Besides risk, they’ll also be on the lookout for opportunities to explore as potential new projects.
Requirements of a digital project manager will include experience, expertise with project management software, knowledge of content management systems, HTML, SEO tactics, Google Analytics and user experience software.
Digital project management is a growing field, but like any project management discipline, it requires the knowledge and use of project management tools. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software that has the tools a digital project manager needs to get real-time data to monitor and report on the project’s progress. See how it can assist your digital projects by taking this free 30-day trial.