What is Digital Project Management and why is it important to businesses?
We’ve compiled this list of questions most frequently asked about Digital Project Management to help you understand what it’s like to start a fast-paced career as a Digital Project Manager.
- Project Management and why it’s important
- Project Management essentials
- Project Management skills and tools
- Careers in Project Management
- Industry demand for Project Management
- Becoming a Project Manager
Digital Project Management and why it’s important
What is Digital Project Management?
In the simplest terms, a project is a set of tasks and activities that are completed to achieve a specific goal or result. Project management is the process of leading a team that delivers that project and the best possible outcomes.
Projects are normally temporary, rather than recurring. They should have a fixed timeline, allocated resources and a defined beginning and end. Projects may be large or small, complex or simple, and may take years to complete, or could be completed within a few days.
In a digital setting, projects come in all shapes and sizes, from developing large-scale web apps to orchestrating marketing campaigns. Digital Project Management is all about using cutting-edge tech to get the job done more efficiently and guiding a digital project from conception to completion.
How do businesses use Digital Project Management?
The pandemic has significantly accelerated the pace of digital transformation among Australian businesses. Recent years have seen organisations across the country acting rapidly to digitise business processes and migrate their activities online.
This drive towards online business is a necessary response to the changing needs of customers and staff. As a result, businesses are initiating more digital projects than ever before, generating a growing need for a new breed of Project Manager.
Digital Project Managers don’t stop at simply managing a team to deliver a project. They often adopt leadership roles and spearhead innovation on the widest scale, setting the strategic direction, owning the customer experience, and initiating projects that deliver results.
What does a Digital Project Manager actually do?
In the broadest sense, Digital Project Managers are responsible for planning, organising, and directing the completion of digital projects for an organisation, while ensuring these projects are delivered on time, on budget, and within scope.
Although no two roles will ever be the same, some of the day-to-day tasks that go into being a Digital Project Manager include:
- Planning projects (often using the waterfall approach)
- Motivating, managing and getting the best out of your team
- Running Agile Scrum sprints
- Troubleshooting and getting failing projects back on track
- Managing scope, time, budget, resources, risk and quality
- Dealing with internal and external stakeholders
Beyond getting the job done, a good Digital Project Manager builds trust, guides decisions, and is equally comfortable talking to developers and business executives.
Digital Project Manager essentials
What is waterfall?
Waterfall project management is generally considered the most straightforward way to manage a project.
The waterfall project management methodology breaks a project into distinct, sequential phases, with each new phase beginning only when the previous one has been completed.
The Waterfall system is the most traditional method for managing a project, with team members working linearly towards set deliverables and goals. Each team member involved has a clearly defined role, and more often than not, none of the phases or goals are likely to change.
Waterfall project management works best for projects with long, detailed plans that require a single timeline. By contrast, Agile project management involves shorter project cycles, constant testing and adaptation, and overlapping work by different teams and contributors.
What is Agile?
Agile is a process for managing a project that involves constant collaboration and working in iterations. Agile Project Management works off the basis that a project can be continuously improved upon throughout its life cycle, with changes being made quickly and responsively.
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development laid out a groundbreaking approach to delivering value and collaborating with customers throughout projects when it was published in 2001. Agile’s four main values are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
In project management terms, the last value might be the most important. Agile is one of the most popular approaches to Digital Project Management because of its flexibility, adaptability to change, and high level of customer input.
What is Agile scrum?
Combining the Agile philosophy with the Scrum framework, the Agile Scrum methodology is a project management system that relies on incremental development. Each iteration consists of two to four-week sprints, with the goal of each sprint being to build the most important features first and come away with a deliverable product. More features are then added in subsequent sprints and adjusted based on stakeholder and customer feedback collected between sprints.
Whereas other project management methods emphasise delivering an entire project in one operation from start to finish, the Agile Scrum methodology focuses on quickly building and refining a product to provide stakeholders with the highest business value in the least amount of time.
What is a scope of work document (SOW)?
A scope of work document is an agreement on the work a team is going to complete throughout a project. When Project Managers produce a scope of work document, it will normally include four key components:
- Deliverables – Completing a project tends to involve a number of deliverables. Whether it’s delivering a report, building a piece of software, or finalising the design of a product, you need to have each deliverable item clearly identified in advance.
- Timeline – This section of the document delineates the major phases of the project and their projected timelines. It will also mark the points in a project when certain deliverables are expected to be ready. A timeline is best presented visually (in a rolled-up Gantt chart, for instance), so team members and stakeholders can see exactly what’s happening and when.
- Milestones – Larger phases of the project are often marked by milestones. Milestones are a way to help you monitor a project’s progress and ensure it’s adhering to your planned schedule. A Scope of Work document should have all milestones laid out on the timeline, including project kickoffs, presentations, hand-offs, etc.
- Reports – You’ll probably be generating reports throughout the project, delivered to either your team, client or stakeholders. These might include status reports, progress reports or variance reports, to name just a few. The purpose of reporting isn’t just to flag whether or not the project’s progressing on schedule, but also offer a chance to highlight its successes on a more granular level.
Digital Project Management Skills
What skills does a Digital Project Manager need?
A successful Digital Project Manager will rely on a spectrum of hard and soft skills when completing their day-to-day work. Here’s a shortlist of the fundamental skills that any aspiring Digital Project Manager should aim to develop.
Proficient with Project Management software
Having a practical understanding of Project Management software is a must-have technical skill for project managers in today’s world. There are many Project Management software options available on the market, so you’ll need to determine which tools and features are best for you and your team’s workflow.
A project plan is the foundation of the project management cycle, including the project schedule, resources and costs. The forward planning for any project lays the foundation for everything that follows, including the success or failure of the project.
Project management is all about meeting deadlines and getting your deliverables out on time. Project managers have to be proficient in managing their time, their team’s time and setting the overall cadence of a project.
Any project, big or small, comes with inherent risks. Before executing the project, you have to create a risk management plan to identify, assess, and control any risks involved. The more you can manage risks, the more likely your project is going to succeed.
Project Managers are expected to break projects down into actionable items, prioritise tasks and allocate responsibilities to teammates. They use their leadership skills to motivate colleagues, offer guidance and give constructive feedback, ultimately keeping everybody fired up and a project on track.
A Project Manager’s job can involve the work of multiple contributors and departments, often hinging on many moving parts. This can lead to complications and obstacles, such as budgetary constraints, conflicting beliefs and technical issues. A Project Manager with a problem-solving mindset can brainstorm ideas and identify solutions that help a project reach its goals.
Project Managers work cross-functionally, collaborating with anybody from designers to tech teams. Strong communication skills enable Project Managers to secure stakeholder buy-in, nurture meaningful work relationships and keep an entire project team focused on the end goal.
From planning a project at the ideation stage, to allocating the budget wisely, Project Managers are often required to think strategically. Project Managers rely on their strategic skills to ensure that all teams, infrastructure and resources are properly organised to deliver a project to brief, on time.
Inevitably, a range of choices have to be made when taking charge of a project from end-to-end. Project Managers have to be able to weigh-up options, project probable outcomes and make smart decisions that positively impact a project’s progress.
What software does a Digital Project Manager use?
There are a variety of reasons to choose a career in CX. First and foremost, it’s a profession that’s in high demand. These days, businesses in every industry understand that placing the customer’s needs first is a surefire way to be competitive.
Before you embark on becoming a CX specialist, it’s useful to have a clear picture of what the average career path might look like.
What does a career path in Customer Experience look like?
In the digital age, project managers use collaborative tools and software to synchronise teams and successfully deliver projects with greater efficiency than ever before. Here’s a shortlist of some of the software options that are powering-up today’s industry.
A Gantt chart is a visualisation that helps with scheduling and monitoring specific tasks and resources throughout a project. It consists of a list of tasks and bars indicating each task’s progress.
TeamGantt is project planning software that brings Gantt charts online. It offers free tools for creating gantt charts and allows you to share them with teams, stakeholders and clients, enabling project plans to take shape collaboratively.
Jira is part of a family of products designed to make managing team projects easier. Digital Project Managers use Jira to create roadmaps, product backlogs and sprint boards, which can be accessed and worked on by an entire team. Jira also helps Digital Project Managers:
- Assign and manage tasks
- Estimate workflow
- Create project reports
- Perform project analytics
- Assign user permissions
Offering a range of functions for collaborative working, Jira allows Digital Project Managers to plan, track and coordinate an entire team’s work using just one tool.
monday.com is an online work management platform that helps teams of all sizes plan, track and schedule their daily tasks. From large-scale product roadmaps to daily iterations, monday.com enables teams to define clear ownership of tasks, track productivity, manage sprints and collaborate effectively.
monday.com is popular among Project Managers because it offers total clarity over a project’s status. A simple checkbox marking a task as “complete” or “incomplete” doesn’t provide enough information for a team to know where things are really at. Members can provide detailed status reports in monday.com, indicating exactly what stage a task has reached, or even highlighting any blockers that have stopped the workflow.
Careers in Digital Project Management
There are any number of reasons to choose a career in Digital Project Management. Not least of all, it’s a profession that businesses of every kind are on the hunt for. With digitisation impacting just about every industry, Digital Project Management is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but instead a key operational component for any growing company.
Before you embark on a career in Digital Project Management, it’s useful to have a clear picture of what a typical pathway might look like.
What does a career path in Project Management look like?
Here’s an example of a typical Digital Project Management career pathway, broken down into roles of increasing responsibility and seniority:
The entry-level position that will launch many careers is a Project Coordinator. Businesses with larger project teams will often hire Project Coordinators, who are normally freshly qualified in the field.
Project Coordinators normally report to the Project Manager and assist with administrative tasks on projects. It is their responsibility to ensure the Project Manager and all team members have what they need to meet deadlines and reach a project’s milestones. This means that Project Coordinators must be across all aspects of a project, from short and long-term goals to the scope of work and budget.
After gaining a few years of entry-level experience, it’s likely you’ll have most of the technical skills in place required to run projects and become a full-blown Project Manager.
Project Managers take the lead on a project and oversee everything from planning through to completion. Going from Project Coordinator to Project Manager will likely mean a healthy jump in your salary, but will also come with more responsibility, since the success (or failure) of a project will largely fall on your shoulders.
On a daily basis, a Project Manager is in charge of overseeing the budget, reporting on progress, managing stakeholder expectations and synchronising the work of different team members. You’ll need the ability to strategise on a high level, yet also be across the key day-to-day details.
Senior Project Manager
For anyone with big ambitions, once you’ve got several years of Project Manager experience under your belt, you’ll be in a strong position to apply for a Senior Project Manager role (sometimes called a Project Director).
As well as all of the duties that come with a normal Project Manager role, you’ll take on the additional responsibilities of coordinating the work of all Project Managers, handling relationships with suppliers and subcontractors, reporting at an executive level, and hiring new team members.
Industry demand for Project Management
With businesses of every kind recognising the value of being more strategic in how they approach projects, Project Managers are hot property across a full range of industries.
In Australia the demand for Project Managers is particularly strong, with Seek currently advertising more than 5,500 specialist roles.
You should also remember a professional Project Manager’s skills are in demand on an international scale, so wherever you find yourself living, you’ll have work experience and a resume that hiring managers are actively searching for.
How much do Project Managers earn in Australia?
Lucrative pay opportunities for Project Managers in Australia are representative of a profession that businesses are searching for.
Talent.com records the average Project Manager salary in Australia at $124,750 per year (or $63.97 per hour). Even entry-level positions start at $105,387 per year, while more experienced Project Managers make $162,179 per year on average (all salaries as of October, 2022).
Becoming a Project Manager
How hard is it to learn Project Management?
Even for a complete beginner, getting to grips with Project Management is not as hard as you might think. That said, there’s a range of skills and approaches you’ll need to develop, including managing scope, time, budget and risk, motivating teams, troubleshooting and getting failing projects back on track.
You’ll also need to dedicate time and practice to getting the most out of the industry’s latest tools and software.
If you’re aiming to get a foothold in the profession, you should strongly consider earning a formal certification in Project Management. It will be difficult to secure your first role without this, since other rival applicants will have a certified skillset
Where can I study Project Management?
There are many options when it comes to qualifying as a Project Manager. In the past, many have chosen to take a Bachelor’s degree in Project Management, which takes 3-4 years to complete.
There’s less of an expectation for Project Managers to be university trained nowadays, with most employers favouring skills, experience and a strong portfolio over formal degrees.
As a result, more people are enrolling in condensed bootcamp-style courses, which leave graduates industry-ready in a much shorter period of time. These courses focus on the tangible skills that today’s professionals need to make their mark on the industry.
What Project Management courses does Academy Xi offer?
Academy Xi offers practical, industry-recognised training that’s designed for digital careers. Our beginner-friendly Digital Project Management courses will teach you how to use collaborative tools, software and a strategic approach to synchronise teams and deliver high-impact digital projects.
Whatever your lifestyle and time commitments, Academy Xi has a course that’s perfectly suited to you.
- Project Management (Digital): Elevate – For those who want to boost their career with in-demand Service Design skills.
- Project Management (Digital): Elevate (Self-paced) – For those who want to boost their career with in-demand Service skills, while also enjoying the flexibility of self-paced learning.
Both courses have been built in collaboration with industry professionals from top digital companies, offering you the chance to:
- Learn how to plan and manage projects using Waterfall and Agile Scrum methodologies.
- Complete a project relevant to your business or workplace – walk away with a number of deliverables and the foundations for an executable project management plan.
- Master those all-important leadership and communication skills, including building trust and managing remote projects.
- Gain confidence with digital concepts and terminology with weekly topics designed to help you coordinate digital projects and collaborate with technical teams.
- Get access to a comprehensive workbook containing a range of Project Management templates – use it to complete your projects and keep it to use on the job.
Not sure which course is right for you? Chat to a course advisor and we’ll help you find the perfect match.
Want to discuss your transferable skills and training options? Chat to a course advisor today. We’ll help you to find the perfect course so you can kickstart a career in the fight against cyber crime.