Great advice is hard to come by unless you’ve got the support of a great mentor or community. And guess what, that’s what we’re here for! The Bureau of Digital is a community of like-minded professionals who offer ongoing support to one another on a variety of topics. Plus, we recruit top speakers from across the globe to speak at our events and share their knowledge with our community not only in person at events, but through our blog and our podcast, The Bureau Briefing.
If you’re reading this blog post, you should consider yourself a part of this community. And I hope you’re ready for some great advice from some of our Digital PM Summit 2017 speakers. We asked them, “What is one piece of advice you’d give to a digital project manager?” and the responses are fantastic.
“Regardless of what pressure is put on you from above (or from the client), the two most important things you need to remember are:
1. The only thing you really HAVE to do is keep breathing. Everything is going to be ok.
2. Being someone who clients, teams and co-workers can trust to be honest with them is more important than anything else in this job. You need them to believe you whether the news is good, or bad. And the only way you build that is by proving you are worthy of their trust.” - Dave Prior
“Ask questions! Don’t ever be scared or worried to ask as many questions as you can, it’s the best way to learn. When I was starting out I made sure I asked whenever I was unsure – never be afraid of sounding stupid. I still try and ask as many questions as possible. It’s a good thing to constantly want to learn.’ - Suzanna Haworth
“At the end of the day we are managing and working with people. Study and understand human nature and the way people work. Learn to do more listening than talking and really get to know your team, your clients, and the business needs of both your clients and your own organization. Give your team encouragement, get them involved, and get them excited to part of your project and on your team - then celebrate/and share the successes.” - Greg Ryder
“Work to cultivate a sincere interest in the work of your subject matter experts. They're SMEs for a reason, and have devoted a lot of time to a topic. If you work to be a good "student" and understand them, you'll gain a valuable project ally who can back you (and your work) up in other rooms you might not be in.” - Amanda Costello
“The one piece of advice I’d offer a DPM is to embrace that digital project delivery is part of a service industry. It’s easy as a new DPM to feel that ‘no’ should be your go to word - it’s a great way to make sure your project stays on budget and time but it’s also a way to turn your client off you and your agency quickly. Investing in developing good customer service skills where you can transform uncomfortable ‘no’ driven conversations into solutions and new opportunities will help you enormously in your career.” - Peta Kennett-Wilson
“Be honest always, with everyone, including your boss and clients and also always remember your loyalty should be to the project and not your team, client or boss…do what is best for project success first and foremost.” - Sam Barnes
“Spend some time really getting to know the people on your team and building rapport.” - Gary Ware
“Observe! Find a mentor. Find opportunities to ‘train’ with a respected, effective digital project manager. Read every piece of project documentation you can get your hands on. Don’t allow your client’s and team’s fears and anxieties to throw you off course. Remind yourself that there is a solution for almost everything.” - Abby Fretz
This is some really solid advice. For me, what resonates most is that we have to focus on people. Timelines and budgets are important, but like Gary said, you have to spend time getting to know your team and building rapport. That’s the fun part of the job.
But I’d also add that you have to take care of yourself. As DPMs, we spend so much time paying attention to everything and everyone else that we forget about ourselves. So, like Abby said, find a great mentor. Or maybe even just a person to lean on to share your challenges and frustrations. Vent when you need to, but to the right people. Your job will be so much easier when you come to it with a clear head.
So, what’s your advice for DPMs? Feel free to share it in the comments below, or better yet, share it in person at the fifth annual Digital PM Summit, October 15-17 at the M Resort in Las Vegas, NV. See you there!