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An Interview With a Digital Project Manager
Being a Digital Project Manager can mean many different things to many different people – depending on the industry you work in. So what about being a Project Manager in a creative agency?
What does the daily grind of being a Digital Project Manager in a busy marketing agency look like? We got chatting to our DPM – and the man who keeps us all working to our schedules – Kevin Milne aka ‘The Badger’.
First thing’s first, what does it mean to be the Digital Project Manager at Strive Digital UK?
“At Red, the role of DPM is fast and furious. It’s a lot of multi-tasking, with my role involving the coordination of projects and making sure they are completed on time. Including making sure that they are within their allocated budget and that all scoped requirements are met.
I’m also responsible for the delegation of tasks within the team and monitoring the progress of these tasks to ensure that the agency is a well oiled machine and all working parts are functioning as they should. On top of that, I prepare reports for senior management regarding the status of projects in the studio and and help forecast and plan for upcoming projects should we win them. So it’s a hell of a lot of organisation!
In terms of the day to day, I liaise with new and existing clients who have ongoing projects. Although my involvement doesn’t end at the completion of a project. I am also involved with retainer accounts, helping with ongoing support and adhoc work requests.
The key to all of this is good communication, and managing expectations both internally and externally. Something that I pride myself on.”
Have you always wanted to go into Digital Project Management?
“Simple answer, no. I didn’t consider project management until very much later in my working career. I left the Royal Navy to study Journalism which I qualified from back in 2010. However, the industry at that time was in somewhat of a downturn, so, like lots of other students I put my degree to use in another industry, and along came project management.
I discovered that project management was something that naturally fitted my talents and experience. So I applied to some educational courses to learn more about the principles and methodology of project management. And the rest is history!”
Have you always had a knack for organisation?
“Not until I joined the Royal Navy. It was there I discovered that being methodical and highly organised came quite naturally to me. During my years with the Royal Navy I was given a real sense of, and appreciation for teamwork. Whilst being encouraged to take responsibility and be self-reliant which bode well for me when it came to project management.”
Tell us your secret. What’s the key to organisation?
“I think there are 3 key elements to great organisation: self discipline, respect and determination.
As DPM, being disciplined in yourself helps instil that mentality across the team. Respect and honesty has really helped too.
If you show the client respect and are honest with them, I have found that they respond better when we encounter unforeseen issues. This also helps when it comes to understanding in terms of expectations in service, delivery time and quality.
Whereas, determination is that drive to see the thing through. To stick to your guns and maybe even badger, when needed. It’s important to remember that it’s your job to get each project completed for clients.”
What’s the best part of your role?
“The best part of project management is that you are at the centre of everything. You are the person that oversees, manages and is generally responsible for the completion of projects, big or small. Being able to see a project progress from conception to handover is hugely satisfying.
Alongside that, every day is different. You never quite know what will be coming your way. Something that’s guaranteed in this job is there’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. But that is all part of the challenge and excitement.”
What is the biggest challenge as Digital Project Manager?
“Definitely resource management! Planning and mapping out the available resources within the studio. Whilst managing the expectations of clients on the other side.
There will aways be times when you’re dealing with competing projects. Projects which all require the same design and development talent of the team at Red in order to complete them on time. It can be challenging to prioritise and manage these conflicting projects. Particularly when it comes to acquiring the necessary information from clients to progress.”
What advice would you give to budding Digital Project Managers?
“For students, if you’re in the middle of studying then sign up for free with the Association of Project Managers (APM). This allows you to access a great network of webinars, events and online resources which have been hugely helpful to me. You can then start to work towards the 3 project management qualifications which the APM offer.
For full-time employees, if you have practical experience but just lack formal project management qualifications then apply for a Modern Apprenticeship through Skills Development Scotland. This will enable you to undertake a qualification whilst you’re still in full-time employment. A particularly great Scottish organisation who can help arrange this and provide this qualification is Genius People. Then once you’re securely on this course, you can apply to join the APM student membership for free of charge! Who can say no to a freebie?”
Finally, why do the team call you ‘The Badger’?
“Ha! It stems from what the team perceive is my tendency to ‘badger’ them when they haven’t responded to an email or query. I take it as a compliment :)”