Mastering Digital Project Management

Like any certification or learning, a project management certification doesn’t mean you’re a good PM. The real test is how well you apply it.

By Profit Idowu

On October 26, 2019
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Image by Tyler Lastovich, © All Rights Reserved.

For many professionals entering the workforce, the transition from rookie to seasoned vet might range from seamless to rocky. The aptitude for work and natural human spark will operate at different intensity levels when presented the opportunity to leap at different points in their career to “figure it out.” The skills, tools, lingo, and knowledge needed to become a subject matter expert or simply be good at their craft vary in nature and scope. Work styles, projects, and the industries we come into contact with (especially creative teams) are constantly changing and shifting to keep up with the times. Traditional media outlets like TV, radio, and print publications have been expanding into new mediums over the years (e.g. Podcasting). All in an effort to incorporate the latest media trends that help them stay in touch and on target with their employees, shareholders, and communities they serve. Morphing, adapting, and speeding up to grasp an understanding of everything from what’s hot in culture to why Tik Tok is all the rage. But how do professionals at these companies slow down the pace of work and create a process to deal with this onslaught of media? If an account director, senior project manager, or communications strategist were trained in a particular way to handle a request, but can’t effectively scale that language or process across the organization, can they really affect change?

Seth Godin says, “If the process we’ve used in the past is broken, let’s fix it, because, in fact, getting that process right is actually more urgent than the problem we’ve got right now. Our meta-conversation pays significant dividends. At the very least, it gets us working together on the same side of a problem before we have to be on opposite sides of the issue of the day.”

In my career so far, I’ve always found myself in rooms leading teams or managing projects. Supervisors and friends handing me a mess of disjointed problems and issues within their process and bringing me in to make sense of a part (or all) of it. By way of having a job, we all solve problems every day. The question we should ask ourselves is what problems do we want to take on or inherit as our own?

The problems I like are those that bend with a creative slant (more on this later).

The kind that dance with the fear of innovation, design, art, and the effort that comes with what it means to be creative. The big problems teed up for the makers, the doers, and dreamers who take the core of big ideas and bring them to life as interactive digital media. To do this well, experience and talent play a factor, but so does taking time for personal development. The Executive Director of Community and Design at On Being, Serri Graslie, has supported the team I work on with developing new skills that are specific to the disciplines we practice at work. Introducing us to concepts and tools like NPR’s guide to Hypothesis-Driven Design (HDD). In our discussions of what course I wanted to take on, she recommended participating in the Q4 section of coursework provided by the Digital Project Management School.

I just received my welcome packet yesterday. Before the end of the year, I plan to put what I learn here into the practice of mastering digital project management over the course of my career. During the program, I’ll track my progress over the following topics:

Course Outline

  • Week 1: Define your role, tools, and approach.
  • Week 2: Initiate projects with effective kick-offs, discovery, and briefing.
  • Week 3: Create realistic timelines and plans that truly guide your projects.
  • Week 4: Build accurate estimates and understand different pricing models.
  • Week 5: Create a reliable, functional Statement of Work.
  • Week 6: Deal confidently with real-world challenges.
  • Week 7: Strengthen your leadership skills to build high performing teams.

“Like any certification or learning, a project management certification doesn’t mean you’re a good PM. What’s more, what you learn to gain the certification might not be directly applicable to the day to day job. And in some cases, it might actually be unhelpful — giving a false confidence in the way things should be done.” —Ben Aston, Founder DPM School

The nuance of working in professional spaces tests everyone. Do your soft skills (which are hard to learn) match up to a company culture that might be riddled with ghost rules? It’s the calling inside each of us, in our professions, that meet the art of practice and is slowly cultivated over time. We rise (or fall) to the occasion and test in the moment. Receiving your degree (or degrees) and obtaining a piece of paper that certifies your credibility is only the first step. The real test is how well you apply it. I’m trusting the time spent here and not on some Udemy course this winter will be well worth the focus and energy.