One of the most critical aspects of a digital transformation initiative is choosing the right internal leaders for the project. As a senior leader, you probably know that you do not have the flexibility in your schedule to manage the day-to-day aspects of the work; instead, your role should be to champion the project, lead change from the front, and advocate for resources the digital transformation team needs.
To set up a digital transformation project for success, it’s essential to assign at least one dedicated project manager to manage the day-to-day project details, work with vendors, and communicate with stakeholders. But how do you choose the right person?
Here are five things to consider when evaluating and selecting a project manager for your digital transformation initiatives:
1. Overall skillset
Often, digital transformation projects are considered the responsibility of IT, but that may not be the wisest course of action. Because digital transformation involves so many business and change management functions, it’s preferable to select a project manager who has a good mix of business and IT skills. Even better—if you have enough staff, choose one person to manage the business side of change and one to handle IT needs. If you can only choose one person, err on the side of business skills; most competent business leaders can quickly ramp up their IT knowledge.
Some leaders could be hesitant to “give up” a good leader for several months to manage a digital transformation project. Assigning two people to manage the project can help alleviate some of the burdens and allow both to keep up with their usual duties. Still, it may be better to backfill the person’s position for a short period or ask other team members to provide support. Giving your project manager the ability to focus entirely on the digital transformation will improve outcomes.
3. Business skills
The right project manager will be able to provide the administrative oversight to keep the project on target to meet goals and have a good, well-rounded set of business skills. Strategic thinking and anticipation, decision-making, the ability to move quickly, and the ability to collaborate across the project team and the business will all give your project manager an edge in successfully completing the project.
4. Change management skills
Digital transformation managers need to have a solid ability to manage change. Skills such as listening, conversational courage, and translating technology into business needs will help improve adoption and buy-in among the people impacted by the technology change. In addition, your project manager should understand how necessary training is to improving outcomes and be willing to work with people across the business to ensure that everyone is trained.
5. Career goals
As you look at your team and think about who could lead a large digital transformation initiative, consider that many of your talented people might welcome the opportunity to hone their skills and build some valuable experience for future career growth. Think of your digital transformation projects as one way to help build your company’s talent pool. As junior leaders practice change management and project management in your digital transformation initiatives, they will build many of the skills necessary to move into higher leadership roles.
The right project manager can be the key to a successful digital transformation initiative. With careful consideration and support from senior leaders, your project manager can be the difference between a new technology that no one likes or uses and one that everyone champions.