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Digital Project Management, or How to Conduct an Orchestra

by Ben Stinton - 29th May 2014

Career Advice

Digital Project Management, or How to Conduct an Orchestra

If you're thinking of becoming a digital Project Manager, you will need a solid understanding of the skills in your team, a firm grasp on the project goals, and the ability to co-ordinate your resources to meet those goals. The Project Manager is the equivalent of the Conductor for an Orchestra, they direct which musicians are involved, how and when. They control the pace and quality of the music, and are responsible for making everyone work together.

Management Skills

A Project Manager is responsible for ensuring a projects Scope is delivered on Schedule and for the right Cost. These three factors are tied together and a change in one will impact the other two. Scope Creep (e.g. additional requirements from the client) will affect either the Schedule or the Cost, or both. This is a tricky balancing act, and requires constant management of both resources and client expectations.

Digital Skills

Most people entering digital project management will have come from a digital media background, and have a good understanding of digital creative processes. If you were to come directly from a non-digital area, then it’s going to take a bit longer to get up to speed but any project management experience you do have will still be relevant.

Organisational Skills

If you wouldn’t describe yourself as detail oriented and well organised, then Project Management probably isn’t the role for you. There are lots of tools out there to help (e.g. MS Project, Jira, Basecamp) but if you aren’t obsessed with order, then your projects will get out of control.

Communication Skills

Your job is to deliver the project for the client. You will have to be able to communicate with your colleagues to ensure they are doing what is required, and on time. You will also need to be in constant communication with your client, understanding their requirements, and managing their expectations.

You will need to be thick skinned as colleagues can be difficult when they are working to a tight deadline. Clients will be demanding and when Schedule, Scope or Cost, slips, things can get heated.


Prince2 is a UK standard project management protocol for larger IT projects, but it’s waterfall and stage gate approach can be applied to any project large or small, digital or otherwise. This methodology is suited where a projects timeline can be estimated accurately from the outset.

Agile is another methodology well suited to projects where the timeline or outcome is not well known at the beginning. It’s a great way of getting started rapidly, delivering elements of a product whose final structure will evolve over time.

Overall, the job of Digital Project Manager can be stressful and less hands on, but delivering a complex project on time and on budget is very rewarding. Do you have what it takes? That is for you to decide...

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