Many of us have to fulfil the role of a digital project manager. However, we don’t enjoy it or see it as anything other than a necessary evil. That saddens me as I believe we should embrace it with enthusiasm.
Admittedly being a digital project manager doesn’t sound like the most glamorous role. You have to deal with the restrictions of budget and timelines, manage the vagaries of team members and, of course, deal with clients.
However, it would be wrong to dismiss the role of a digital project manager as a necessary evil. Not only is it an essential role in project success, but it can also be satisfying when done right.
In this post, I want to excite you about this role, even if it is something you have to do alongside other responsibilities.
That begins by clearing up a few things about what the role should involve.
What Does a Digital Project Manager Do?
There is a perception that the role of a digital project manager is mostly dealing with the crap nobody else wants to touch. Although a digital project manager handles some of the more significant challenges around a project, they also are one of the primary influencers for it.
In the movie Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Woz) asks Steve Jobs, “What is it that you actually do?“. “Musicians play their instruments,” Jobs tells him, “I play the orchestra.“
I love that line, and in many ways, it sums up nicely the role of a digital project manager. Running projects puts you in a unique position to shape the music.
However, that is not the only reason to embrace the role of a digital project manager. There are other benefits too.
Why You Should Embrace Your Inner Digital Project Manager
In my opinion, there are 7 reasons to seriously consider digital project management as a career path, or at very least, not resent having to do it alongside your other roles.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Demand Outstrips Supply
First up, finding a good digital project manager is damn hard! Trust me on this; I try regularly. In fact, from what I can tell, demand is far outstripping supply at the moment, and that makes it a good career move.
In fact, according to the Anderson Economic Group, by 2027, the demand for project managers will increase by 33%. A ‘Talent Gap’ report by PMI estimates that between 2013 and 2020, there will be 15.7 million new project management roles.
You will not have trouble finding a job as a digital project manager.
2. The Pay Is Good
Because demand is high, you can earn a good salary as a digital project manager. That might be no comfort to those of you who are doing the role alongside other responsibilities. However, it does give you a pretty good negotiating tool.
According to Pay Scale, a digital project manager in the United Kingdom averages approximately £34,000 compared to £31,000 for a UX designer or £25,000 for a web developer. In the US and parts of Europe, this is significantly higher.
3. It Is a Flexible Career Path
It is also worth noting that the skills you develop managing digital projects are incredibly transferable. It opens up project management opportunities in other sectors. However, it also helps with running your own business or as you move into pretty much any management position.
The transferable nature of these skills enables you to move in a wealth of different directions in your career. Also, because as a digital project manager you need to know a little about everything, you can use it as a way of transitioning into everything from development to design.
4. It Is a Road to Senior Management
One of the most common career paths for a project manager is into management. The team management skills you gain as a digital project manager are precisely the kinds of skills you need as you move into senior management positions.
Also, as a digital project manager, you are forced to consider business needs and look at the bigger picture. Again, these are valuable skills in senior leadership.
Finally, operating as a project manager puts you in direct contact with more senior members of staff. That allows you to learn from them and make the connections to progress your career.
Not that the only benefits are about career progression.
5. You Get to Work With a Huge Variety of People
If you enjoy working with others, then digital project management is a superb opportunity. It is an opportunity to work with an enormous range of talented people from all kinds of fields.
That is one of the things I love. I find nothing more satisfying than sitting down in a room full of people smarter than me and watching them collaborate.
I get to learn so much from these disparate people in many different areas, which is perfect for a generalist like myself.
6. It Is a Perfect Role for a Generalist
Digital project management is perfect for the curious or those who love exploring the diversity of digital. If you hate the idea of specialising, then digital project management may well be for you.
To facilitate the collaboration and communication of stakeholders, you have to be able to speak each of their respective languages. That is hard to do unless you have at least a reasonable understanding of what they do.
You also need to understand their work to help them overcome the challenges they will face and protect them from potential issues before they come up.
7. You Own The Vision
Finally, although I alluded to this before with the Steve Jobs quote, I could not end this list without pointing out how the digital project manager owns the vision.
Sure, they are not the only person to shape that vision, but the digital project manager is the one that nurtures it and protects it. You are the one that gets to play the orchestra!
Stop Denying You Are a Digital Project Manager
The reason many people struggle with the role of a digital project manager is that they haven’t committed to it. They are in denial that it is, in fact, a part of their role and so don’t invest time in improving their skills in the area.
It is time to start taking the role seriously. I run a workshop on running digital projects, but there are also some tremendous sources of support out there too. Here are a few to get you started:
Stock Photos from Live and Learn/Shutterstock