A day in the life of a digital project manager

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A day in the life of a digital project manager

Name Simona Morockaite

Job title Digital Project Manager

Time at Digital Detox 6 years

A virtual hello, Simona! Tell us about your role as a digital project manager.

My role as a digital project manager involves working closely with our development team to ensure they have all the information they need to deliver digital experiences for clients.

If the developers have any questions, they’ll come to me and we’ll discuss them and work out the solution. Similarly, if developers get blocked from being able to continue with a particular aspect of a sprint, it’s my role to remove any obstacles and create a clear path for them to carry on.

More strategically, I work with the product owner and development team to refine our development backlog. We try to plan ahead, so the team knows what’s coming and has a clear, prioritised list of upcoming tasks.

What project are you working on at the moment?

Currently, I’m working on an exciting CMS project for a global client. They’re rolling out a new CMS platform across multiple countries and we’re working with Contentful to deliver a headless CMS experience.

It’s a huge project that started back in March 2020 and is scheduled to run until November this year.

To keep the project moving forward, I work with design, devops and project teams across Digital Detox and our client’s teams. I also need to keep the client up to date with our progress, so they have visibility of any functionality we create and can make sure it’s aligned to their expectations.

It’s very important for me to keep in touch with the client and development team. I do this in a few ways:

  • Daily stand up with the dev team
  • Use Slack to communicate with the developers in real-time
  • Weekly report to stakeholders

I tend to avoid using email where possible, as web chat is a much better and more instantaneous medium of communication. In an ideal world, I’d pop over to a developer’s desk to chat when they had a question, but that’s not possible at the moment thanks to Covid!

Speaking of Covid, how have you found the transition to remote working?

I’ve found the move to remote working a very positive change, though I know not everyone has.

Previously, I had a long commute to the office, which was challenging as a working parent with a demanding schedule. Since moving to a remote-first environment (meaning DD now favours remote-working over office working for those who prefer it), I’ve gained valuable work time in the absence of my commute.

This means I can put in more work hours and still have time to prioritise my family. So remote working has really supported my work/life balance. Although I do tend to check my emails and often do work in the evenings, so perhaps I’m not able to switch off as I did before remote working!

As I’m now leading a team split across multiple locations, it’s vital that I check in with everyone each morning. I like to make sure everyone is ok and that they have all they need to get on with their work for the day. Slack has been invaluable for staying in touch with the team during the lockdown.

What are the pros and cons of being a digital project manager?

Pros:

I love my role as a digital project manager. Specifically, I really enjoy working with developers, helping them out with any issues and being someone they can come to with problems that need solutions.

It’s a diverse role and I get to work alongside various teams. It’s also great being a lynchpin between the dev team and the client, managing the differing needs and expectations of each.

Cons:

It’s a very busy role, often with tight deadlines and high client expectations. Within the current project I’m working on, there’s a lot of pressure to get the global CMS rollout over the line. Every moment counts towards delivery so, as a team, we need to use our time productively.

Helping clients become more agile

In an agile environment, we’re focused on delivering as much working functionality as possible from each sprint, so it’s important that we set our clients’ expectations and take them on the journey with us. Many clients are still getting to grips with agile ways of working so it’s our job to support them in this.

A big challenge we all face as a tech team is that many companies say they’re agile, but once we start working with them, we realise it’s just a buzzword they tend to use. These clients often provide fixed timescales and a rigid deadline that puts pressure on the development team.

When clients combine agile methods with waterfall expectations, it can be a challenge! But it’s our role to help guide clients on the journey to understand agile ways of working, then support them in setting their expectations accordingly.

For a company to be truly agile, the change needs to happen from the top down. Stakeholders need to educate themselves about agile - this is something we try to help clients with, so they get the end result they expect and we can deliver the very best output.

What excites you about the future?

As Digital Detox is now a remote-first company, we’ll need to enhance how we deliver virtual workshops with clients. In the past, we’d run our client workshops face-to-face, so it’s been a challenge to adjust and we’ve had to do so almost overnight. Now that we’ve had some time to acclimatise to our new virtual world, we can plan better and utilise digital tools that streamline the process of running remote client workshops.

Having said that, I really miss face-to-face time with clients and look forward to more of this in the future.

I’m excited about the innovative tools and platforms we’re harnessing to deliver our headless CMS project, and look forward to offering this service to other clients. In fact, some of our own Digital Detox developers have received their Contentful accreditation, so they can deliver on headless CMS requirements for clients.

I’m excited to complete the current project and see the value it delivers to our client and their stakeholders around the world.

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