Digital project management must have something to do with digital technology and project management. But is it really "something", and what does it mean to you? Digital technology has been around for a long time. However, it first came into the mainstream with the internet, probably around the mid-1990.
Digital Technology Has Brought Sweeping Change
With digital technologies, many fields have been turned upside down. Here are a five examples of fields that have changed tremendously as a result of the introduction and development of digital technologies:
- Newspapers - Movement from paper-based, hand-delivered content to content delivered to and consumed on electronic devices.
- Photography - Movement from processing pictures using physical processes that produce hard copy pictures, to digital processes that produce store-able and shareable images with no need for physical processes.
- Mail - A great deal of mail items have been replaced by email, a digital technology.
- Warfare - Wars in the past were primarily fought and won based on physical strength, but increasingly are based on digital strength - the ability to leverage digital technologies for military advantage.
- Marketing - The principles of marketing are virtually the same, but digital technologies have allowed marketers to segment market in and extremely fine-grained way.
In all cases, the fundamentals of each profession are really the same - but the introduction of digital technology has increased capabilities in such a profound way that it has upset the entire structure of how these things are done - and how industries around them are structured.
Digital Project Management
So how have digital technologies increased what is possible in project management...and in the process rendered some prior practices - and some assumptions - moot? I believe that the foundations of project management - the fundamental concepts, and the fundamental responsibilities and processes - remain unchanged. However, I think there are two areas where digital technology has created change within the field of project management:
- Nature of the Projects - Projects have changed! So many more projects today are digital in nature. For example, any project touching those five areas I listed above is probably a digital project - projects to convert content to digital; enable communications through new digital means; leverage digital capabilities in marketing, manufacturing, distribution, finance, science; and more.
- Digital Tools to Manage Projects - Whether it's the latest technologies for managing issues on an agile project, or project management in the cloud for increased collaboration, project document management, chat, or virtual meetings - all of these have changed the way we can manage projects - but of course still applying the same fundamentals.
A "digital project manager", if there really is such a thing, is simply someone who possesses some combination of skills in digital - ability to grasp and manage technologies based on digital technologies - and mastery of new digital tools for managing projects. As a corollary, a digital project manager is probably also very good with numbers (digits), and therefore excellent at applying metrics to project management challenges.