13 Essential Skills for Digital Project Managers

digital project manager skills

Character traits of a succesful DPM

What are the crucial character traits for a Digital Project Manager?
A DPM is a digital solution architect and as such...

Great Digital Project Managers are:

1. Flexible communicators

Able to translate the technical jargon into benefits for the client and vice-versa. Check-in frequently with the tasks in progress and able to supervise teams online.
You should know and understand every aspect of the project, and potentially be able to anticipate questions or concerns the client might have.

One of the most important rules in #DPM is ABC - Always Be Communicating! #projectmanagement

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As a project manager it's good to have the ability to "put on different thinking hats" which means be able to see things from different perspective and get more clear about what's the real issue.

six thinking hats discussion approach

Six thinking hats approach to group discussions.

2. Natural leaders

A project manager has to know and feel how to build an informal authority and exercise power to be able to enforce the team’s processes and keep their work in-sync, even if the different team members are not in premises and you work on-line most of the time.​

skills thinking leader

3. Negotiators

Being good at using persuasion and their influence to motivate people on the team and negotiate with suppliers and stakeholders on the scope, time and money to be spent.​

4. Synthetic thinkers

A good project manager is able to synthesize informations, combine them into a complex system and be able to see the whole picture.

skills strategy thinking

5. Knowledgeable

Always staying on top of trends, changes, knowing the deliverables in your industry. Holding some expertise in the domain he/she is working in.
You don't have to be a programmer to work with professional programmers, but understanding the main concepts behing programming is very helpful for bringing up the communications from the specialized teams' level to the client, user or business sponsor.
You should never answer to project issues completely alone but to check them with the source, with the technical people. Again - don't make assumptions, check the facts.

skills wealth of information

6. Consistent

As a project manager you should feel and be strong on your position. As such you have to agree with your role's responsibilities and never delegate your core competencies
Consistency is the King!

skills patience

7. Organized and constantly organizing

Digital Project Managers have to be extremely well organized as they are as the steering wheel on the ship, constantly organizing, understanding the roles in their team. As a DPM you should know what each of your team members does on a daily basis.

8. Having strong sense of reality + crytical thinking skills

As a DPM you need to be setting and managing expectations, defining scope - for this to be relevant a DPM should never assume too much and check the assumptions with those who are experts in their field, avoiding bias thinking, taking sides, always keeping track of what is a fact, and what’s merely someone’s opinion.

9. Understanding the economic realities

Having fiscal responsibility for the various project phases and being one of the main actors during milestone reviews and status meetings with the project sponsors and business representatives, demands of the digital project manager the understanding of the budget, cash-flows and return on investment concepts, ability to crack down financial statements.

skills thinking businessman

10. Committed

You should act as if you owned the whole process, as if you where an entrepreneur, who not only thinks about delivering a solution as-is but to fulfill a gap in the market and the client's needs.
Such an attitude will make you more synchronized with what the business sponsor needs and what the final user wants, you won't lost the track of why you are doing this project in the first place.

11. Thinking (and communicating) precisely

Attention to detail and ability to break things down into smallest detail - create Work and Risk Breakdown Structures (WBS, RBS) to have smaller manageable parts in the project is crucial.
Not only for handling and managing the project, but also to be able to communicate any issues and escalate them to the stakeholders.

skills mathematical mind

12. Creative

Managing changes, being forced to constantly look for solutions to different problems which occur on the project, DPMs have to be creative and open-minded, always trying to connect the dots.

skills creative individual

13. With a positive outlook

Yes, as a DPM you should have that as well. Remember that you’re here to keep up the morale in the team and motivate people to action. You are also the main point of contact for everyone in the project, so stay positive and focused on the projects’ goals.

skills empathy
Deliver and keep everyone happy 🙂

Besides the character traits of a digital project manager, the technical skills are also important. So I've put up a list of some good-to-have skills for a DPM, who want to stay confident while managing digital projects. 

Technical knowledge good to have for a DPM

Here are some of the things you should understand as a digital project manager:

  • Copywriting, content writing and editing
  • HTML / CSS / JavaScript general knowledge
  • FTP (file transfer protocols) and cloud storage services
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • IT Systems Architecture - 
  • CMS (Content Management Systems) - e.g. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Social Media - Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, Google+, ... (here's a list of the Top15)
  • Presentation software - Keynote / PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.
  • Simple photo editing - maybe not advanced Photoshop, but something like Gimp or Paint.NET
  • Understanding of formal PM methodologies - e.g. Prince2, PMI (see here for the Top10 in 2015)
  • Knowledge of technical aspects of the business a DPM works in.
  • Knowledge of modern technologies and emerging platforms - terms like SaaS, IaaS, Meteor, AngularJS, PHP, Ruby, ... should ring a bell.
    Here's a nice list of 35 terms you should know and understand as a DPM (or a digital start-up entrepreneur).

So... let me know - What do you think?

Would you add something to the pack, or maybe you'd remove a few lines?

I'd appreciate if you'd write something in the comments below. Also if you liked this post, please share in the social-media - the easiest way to do that is to click one of the buttons below.

Hope to stay in touch with you.

What Is Digital Project Management or #DPM?

digital project management background

So what really is Digital Project Management or #DPM as I like to refer to it (and use this hashtag on Twitter)?

What is Project Management?

Project management itself is a controlled and very often standarized approach (with its principles, processes, techniques) aimed at delivering expected outcomes: physical or non-physical products or services delivered on time, within agreed cost margins (budget), with a defined quality and within a scope agreed upon with the client or project sponsor.

Projects are a mean to introduce change into organizations and as such they are not the business-as-usual approach.

Digital Projects and Digital Project Managers

Digital Project Managers often called Website Project Developers or even Web Project Coordinators are specialized managers who deliver projects in the digital environment.

Digital Project Development Ireneusz Krajewski

Digital Project Development - Elements & Processes

Among most common digital projects we distinguish projects and products such as:

  • website development and design, which includes user interface (UI) and user experience design (UX);
  • e-commerce, web-store design, interactive user journey analysis;
  • multi-channel marketing;
  • e-mail marketing campaign design;
  • content management and optimization, copywriting;
  • mobile apps development and responsive design, application functionality;
  • social media management - campaigns and marketing in social channels;
  • SEM (Search Engine Metrics) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
OK, so why is this Digital Project Management term used so occasionally?

Why is Digital Project Management term so confusing? Is it the lack of standards? #DPM

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A word about DPM Approaches and Methodologies

Digital Project approaches are still not standarized nor well documented. It's probably because the digital project environment is so dynamic and prone to changes. Also the set of projects I have listed above is so complex and varied that it's difficult to put them all in one single "bag", unless you want to use a very universal process description.

So what standards could be applied?

There is one general framework, a conceptual model called the Software Development LifeCycle (SDLC) which is used to describe the stages involved in an information software development.

The SDLC process can be stripped down to 8 key phases, which are:

  • ​Planning,
  • Requirements definition,
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Implementation
  • Operation and maintenance phase,
  • Disposition.

The figure below from Wikia describes all the phases.

8 Key Phases of the SDLC Process (source: Supremesoft).

8 Key Phases of the SDLC Process (source: Supremesoft).

Moving further, a digital project manager can choose one of two main approaches: waterfall or agile.


This is a more traditional approach where one builds a final solution sequentially, phase by phase, The phases can be seen as flowing steadily downwards like a waterfall., hence its name.


A more adaptive approach where the final result is achieved by constant iteration phases during which the requirements and solutions evolve as a result of collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

I'd say that on top of that there are universal methodologies such as Prince2 or PMI (PMBOK). 
If one wants to choose a complex methodology to manage a digital project, they should remember that these should be tailored to the projects' size and complexity, otherwise more effort will be put in sustaining a work system and the less value gained from it.

So what's next?

That's pretty much about it for today. Digital Project Management is still a quite fresh domain and on my blog I will share with you some frameworks and propose techniques and tools which shall make a life of a DPM easier and more "aligned" and focused on the achivement of the projects' final goal.
I'll also cover more of the various methodologies and try to answer the question - How to adapt them to the needs of digital project management? 

So let's stay in touch and if you liked this post, please feel free to share it in social media and leave a comment below.