Agency Project Manager: How To Hire A Digital Project Manager

This part of our Digital Marketing Recruitment Guide looks at Digital Project Managers and how to go about hiring them for your agency. Our contributor reveals why Project Managers are so important and what qualities you should look for when hiring one.

In this section, Roy Wilding, Co-founder and Creative Director at PushON, shares what he thinks makes a good Project Manager in a Digital environment. 

Good digital project managers lead teams like a conductor leads an orchestra; they're the difference between harmony and disarray.

Ignore project management at your peril. It's easy to believe that developers and designers can self-manage and work harmoniously to deliver the end result on time and on spec - after all, they're intelligent, forward-thinking types, aren't they?

Well, they are, but unfortunately, their heads are full of code and creative thoughts, and that leaves little room for planning and sense-checking - not to mention the communication skills and time to liaise with clients and explain complex issues.

Ensuring you hire good digital project managers is essential. Not having good project management in place can be hugely detrimental to your business and will affect the profitability of individual projects and, ultimately, the business as a whole. 

The example of an orchestra without a conductor is appropriate. Without that central influence, the music would lack harmony, timing, emotion and precision. Some players might not even be on the right page. Would they please any audience?

The fundamental requirements of any project manager are, I believe, interchangeable between service industries and project types. There are a plethora of project management methodologies that can be applied and deployed as appropriate and no one size fits all solutions.

When we're looking for a project manager at PushON, we're looking for someone that meets the following criteria:

  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Methodical
  • Detailed
  • Authoritative
  • Great listener
  • Inquisitive
  • Concise and clear note-taking abilities
  • Conflict resolver
  • Knowledge of project management methodologies
  • Experience of using project management tools.

What makes a good digital project manager?

What separates a project manager from a digital project manager is knowledge of the industry, tool sets, software, programming languages, technologies, content management systems and social media platforms - and their constraints.

The phrase 'you don't have to be mad to work here, but it helps' springs to mind. It's not essential to be able to program but it helps; it's not a requirement to be able to use Photoshop but it helps. I say this because having aptitude in the various digital skillsets means a digital project manager has the insight and empathy required to ensure the requirements and challenges of the delivery team are understood, recognised and taken into account during the planning and delivery phases of digital projects.

Equally important is the ability of the digital project manager to communicate, relate to and understand the requirements and challenges of the client - and not just the goal for a given project but for the wider business goals too.

When teams and agencies are small in size, it's easy to make the mistake of believing projects can be managed from within the team; however, the value in a dedicated project management resource is demonstrable.

Quite simply, if you want to deliver your project on time, please the client and get paid, a good digital project management resource is essential.