Life in the project management space can be exciting. You influence and guide a project from its earliest stages to its successful end. This role is great for those who like to manage people, timelines and budgets. The smile you bring to the clients face makes all your hard work pay off.
Like most things, there are pros and cons to being a digital project manager. There are amazing moments, as well as some challenges. Our goal is to shine light on the great work that project managers do. In order to create a better understanding of these incredible folks, it is important to note some common challenges they face.
In creating awareness of these challenges, we hope to create a positive change in the digital project management space. We want to strengthen the bond between teams and their project managers.
Digital Project Managers Don’t Have Authority
Imagine managing people, a budget and a timeline. There are a lot of moving parts to manage and you’re tasked with keeping everything together. People have different expectations and ideas they want to bring to the table.
As a digital project manager, it is your responsibility to keep everyone on track towards the same goal. But how can you be successful when you may not have direct authority over the teams or departments you manage. Without authority, it becomes challenging to keep members within budget and on track for the deadline.
As a member of the team, we urge you to recognize this inconsistency. Ask your project manager what you can be doing to help. Demonstrate your support and take their recommendations seriously. As a manager, set clear expectations among the team. Give your project manager the authority they need to be successful in the role. You’ll find that this authority boosts the efficiency of your projects and ultimately the satisfaction of the client.
Creative and Technical Teams Don’t Always Agree
Creative teams and technical teams have different visions and priorities. This is only natural as they work in different departments, doing completely different things.
A creative team is more focused on feelings and inspiration. They would prefer to take their time and create different visually appealing pieces for the same project. While this can drive amazing pieces that the client will love, it takes a good amount of the timeline and budget away. Not to mention, the technical team still has to implement these designs.
Technical teams on the other hand, have their own ideas and preferences. They wait on the creative team to produce the designs. Only then can they begin implementing the design for the project. Sometimes there is an issue with the design that makes it hard to code. This can complicate the project and take up more of your valuable time and budget.
Both teams require time to do what they do best. But we live in a world with strict deadlines and budgets. It is up to the digital project manager to keep both teams satisfied and under the scope of the project. A key way to address this issue is to ensure that the creative and technical teams are driven by data (the SAME data). Needs should be addressed upfront and expectations must be set.
It’s Rarely Just a Small Change
On the outside looking in, a small change to the plan seems insignificant. How can a change in font or size be a big deal, right? Unfortunately, in the world of project management, changes often result in a lot of additional work…far more than what meets the eye.
When a change is made to the plan, it impacts the way development is done or the direction creative takes. Bigger things behind the scenes must be altered. Once a project is approved, the creative and technical teams get to work. Everything is running smoothly and the goal is being met.
Let’s say you decide you want the design to look another way. With an outside perspective, it’s no big deal. It’s just a small tweak to the design and they already have the webpage ready. Can’t the technical team just switch out the old design for the new design? The answer is not exactly. A design change can impact the layout of a page or even the coding associated with it. This can further complicate other pages that are based off of the page in question. This results in a tighter budget and timeline, negatively impacting the digital project manager.
We understand that changes come up and that’s totally normal. We suggest considering the consequences of even the smallest change before enforcing it. Talk with the creative and technical teams to see how your tweak will impact their work. Maybe it’s not a big deal and they will happily accommodate you. Regardless, there should be open communication throughout the project to address these issues as they arise.
Technology is Constantly Changing
Not too long ago, we had dial-up internet. That sounds crazy but it’s true. We may not recognize it in our daily lives but technology changes frequently. Project managers are responsible for keeping up to date with new emerging trends. They are expected to be ahead of their clients and understand how the latest changes impact them and their projects.
Project managers can feel like they’re drinking from a firehose. At times, there is more new technology than one can digest. While it is important for project managers to do their own work to stay informed about changing technology, managers and teammates can do the same. Find ways to keep your digital project manager (and others on the team) informed. Make the new technology simple and easy to understand.
In turn, digital project managers will be able to have better communication with clients. They can make more informed recommendations and set more realistic deadlines. This will positively impact the success of your agency (who wants to be looked at as an expert in their field).
Being a digital project manager is challenging, but very rewarding. The job has its perks and downsides. Most of the challenges project managers face can be addressed through communication and a basic understanding of their struggles.
A happier project manager means efficient results, satisfied clients and a team that enjoys working together. Without these roles, you’d have feuds between creative and technical teams. Your colleagues would lose track of time and have to work for “free” to catch up. Deadlines will slip by and clients will not be happy. A project manager provides the well-needed glue to make everything run smoothly. Acknowledge their challenges and collaborate with them to keep your agency running according to plan.
Are you looking to hire a project manager? Finding the right addition to your team can be difficult. Contact us today to discuss your staffing needs!