If you’re a Digital Project Manager, the Digital PM Summit in Philadelphia was the conference to attend this year. Hundreds of DPMs gathered for two full days of sessions, workshops and networking geared towards the digital project management community.
It was a lot to take in, so I boiled it down to four main takeaways:
1. Give Feedback People Can Use
Anyone working in the digital realm is aware that feedback is essential to collaboration and furthering a project. Adam Connor of Mad*Pow and Aaron Irizarry of Nasdaq Product Design explained three kinds of design feedback.
- Reaction - This is a first impression that typically comes from the gut. The flaw is that these reactions don’t better the user experience or goals. Example: “This design needs to be jazzed up.”
- Direction - This type of feedback happens when someone tells the designer they should have done it another way. Example: “You should have made that card green instead of blue.”
- Critique - While both of the previous lack critical thinking, critique is the process of evaluating the work against previously agreed-upon goals. Example: “If our top objective is for the user to sign up for the free trial, then putting the form field at the bottom of the screen isn’t effective.”
Critique is at the core of collaboration. You can read their book Discussing Design for a detailed breakdown of the entire process.
2. Manage a Project from the “Last Responsible Moment”
Rob Harr of Sparkbox explained how decisions made too early in the project often result in throwaway work. Decisions should be made at the last responsible moment to delay commitment, keeping irreversible decisions open until the cost of not making a decision outweighs the cost of making a decision.
He went on to explain that determining the entire scope of work on a project at the beginning is sometimes irresponsible, and maybe impossible, because:
- It can be difficult for clients to describe their actual needs.
- We are bad at estimating work, partially because we are too optimistic.
- Business needs change over time.
As an industry, we often care too much about processes, when in reality there is no one way. Planning is much more important than the plan.
3. Be the User Experience Champ
UX consultant Paul Boag explained how digital project managers are well placed to be the user experience (UX) champions on the team. Good UX improves branding because consumers feel good about themselves and your company when they are able to answer a question on your site on their own. Here are a few ways Paul explained we can improve UX:
- Design for the gaps where users fall. Those gaps could be between channels - for example, between your social media, website or emails.
- Focus on users’ time. Time is one of the most valued commodities; save it, and your brand becomes the hero.
- Put a policy in place to decide who chooses what goes on the websites and who keeps the content up to date.
- Don’t organize the website around a current structure. Build the website around the user's need.
4. Uncover your “Intrapreneur”
Nancy Lyons, co-author of Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process, encouraged us to release our intrapreneur.
Entrepreneurs are people who organize and manage an enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
Intrapreneurs are people inside an organization who take risks to solve problems and grow business.
We all need the ability to think and move independently, take initiative (without permission) and take ownership of our own corner inside a company. Don’t just point to what is broken; be the guy who fixes it.