Digital project managers need community too

Pete Boston

Sometimes being a digital project manager can feel like training for a marathon on a cold, wet day. But like a marathon, when you all come together the experience is amazing.

When I suggested to the Headscape Directors that I thought there should be some PM representation from Headscape at a DigiPM conference in Austin Texas, it was said with a bit of tongue and cheek and I wasn’t necessarily expecting a positive response. But 6 months on I find myself suffering post #DPM2014 blues after what was an excellent 2 days of inspirational talks, workshops and general mingling between coffee breaks.

Working in isolation

Developers and designers in the digital industry have long had their own communities. I as an ‘ex-designer / project-manager’ found myself tagging along to the likes of SXSW not knowing which sessions would suit me best. HTML5? CSS? Typography? Or how about IA and story boarding? Very few sessions related to Project Management.

For years I felt alone in my role as PM in a small agency. Even though I was able to share joys and frustrations (admittedly mainly frustrations) with my fellow PM for many years @bobscape, we were rarely able to tap in to a wider community where we could share our thoughts and ideas.

Discovering the digital project management community

So at DPM2014, apart from the excellent key notes, workshops and break out sessions, I found myself immersing myself in an overwhelming sense of community amongst us. Not matter what nationality, age, religious persuasion, we were able to share stories, joys, frustrations and ambitions amongst each other.

We were able to share stories, joys, frustrations and ambitions amongst each other.
We were able to share stories, joys, frustrations and ambitions amongst each other.

In truth, whether your role as a digital project manager (DPM) is for a small agency, a scrum master for a software house or a Production Manager for a large Corporate, DPM embraces all aspects of the digital industry. Prototyping. storyboarding, design, development, IA, storyboarding, QA. As both Paul and Nancy suggested in their keynotes, DPMs play centrally to everything. They may have a key speciality, but have some knowledge of all areas.

Feels like running a marathon

I was recently able to draw a parallel with the DPM community experience I felt in Austin. At the end of October I took part in the Great South Run – a 10 mile run around the streets of the historic city of Portsmouth. After all the months of training by myself, completely alone, sometimes in the dark and rain, I found myself running the streets of Portsmouth amongst 25,000 fellow runners.

Suddenly it dawned on me; hang on, all of us here have been going through the same training pains in silence and alone, but now we are together aiming for exactly the same goal. Fast, slow, small, large, we were all there together. The atmosphere was fantastic and I am sure that was partly because everyone felt part of a wider community.

Like training for a marathon, being a DPM can be lonely and hard work. But when you come together the results are amazing.
Like training for a marathon, being a DPM can be lonely and hard work. But when you come together the results are amazing.

So lets keep this thing going. Since DPM2014 we have continued to interact via Basecamp conversations and #pmchat Twitter meet ups. DPM:UK15 is coming up in Manchester in January.

Our roles bring great joy but can also bring great challenges. Knowing that we have a global community of DPMs right behind us, and that we are not alone, makes our jobs just that little bit easier.

Boagworks

Boagworld