PM. Digital project manager. Digital PM. Digital strategist. Producer. Interactive project manager. Digital producer. Scrum master. Lead producer.
The list goes on and on.
Regardless of what our email signature say, we’re all rooted in project management. And I’m convinced that it’s time to level up. Not only in our craft, but in the pride we show for being PMs. The PM role is difficult to describe. If you search for PM jobs, you’ll find a little bit of everything; from social media and email marketing to trafficking banner ads and content updates to managing multilingual website overhauls and native app development. Plus, there’s something about being a Scrum Master…
The variety aside, I can assure you of this — PMs are the glue who hold things together. We are cheerleaders. We are bulldozers. We don’t need to be listed in the credits as we prefer to be in the background, quietly and smoothly moving things along. Good PMs don’t get in the way, we clear things out of the way. We block. We tackle. And we know when to punt. We provide the right information at the right time to the right people. We know when to talk, but more importantly, we know when to listen.
We get things done.
But there’s more to being a good PM, right? Absolutely.
Anyone can get things done. Good PMs know that we can’t just tell people what to do, we need to inspire them. We need to learn to say no, learn to ask why and learn when to say I don’t know. We need to do everything in our power to be right but can’t ever be afraid to be wrong. We need to look for the good in everyone. We need to understand that the web is about people and everything we do is for humans — not users, not customers, not stakeholders…humans.
We need to understand that testing is a task, quality is an attitude. We need to believe that there is no one-size-fits-all process. And we need to let our processes and tools adapt to the needs of the team. We should not be afraid to voice our ideas; after all, we’re the ones in the trenches and have been exposed to a variety of great digital solutions. We need to own projects and become the central hub for our internal team and our clients. We need to be ever curious, open to new ideas, perceptive and evolve through time.
We need to help our teams understand what it is they should build and how to build it as efficiently as possible. We need to think of ourselves as partners. Partners with dev, devops, qa and design. We need to think of building a product as a continuous cycle of learning, convincing, documenting and refining. We need to be empathetic — empathetic for devs, the business and most of all, the people who interact with the things we build. We need to understand that tools before strategy will only lead to tragedy.
We need to create space for our teams to be the best that they can be.
We need to understand that what’s needed isn’t a checklist, it’s trust.
This is digital project management.
It’s a lot more than just getting things done. Just like no client is born a good client, no PM is born a good PM. We’re all in this together, so let’s keep pushing, keep grinding and keep redefining what it means to be a good PM.
The thoughts and ideas from this post were taken from my recent trip to the Digital PM Summit in Austin, TX. It’s a mixture of direct quotes from the speakers, notes from my Evernote moleskin and a recent article written about being a great product manager. If you’re interested in seeing the presentations from the DPM Summit, the presenter slides have been posted.