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How to lead a successful digital team

Vegard Ottervig on

Get the recipe for creating long-term success with your co-workers.

Leading a successful digital team can be challenging. There are KPIs to hit, deadlines to reach and a whole gallery of different personalities to manage. How do you rise to the challenge?

To help you get started we’ve put together guidelines for leading your team to success.

Also make sure you choose the right CMS:

Checklist: How to choose the right CMS

1. Focus on innovation

According to research from MIT Sloan, 18% of global executives value innovation above all else when it comes to hiring a great digital leader. That’s because team leaders who prioritise innovation open the door to collaboration, creativity and experimentation.

For accelerated innovation, you can acquaint yourself with the design sprint principles. It will help you design, prototype and test ideas on customers in record time.

2. Secure funding for innovation

However much you value innovation, without funding it just won’t happen. So as a digital leader, it’s your job to make sure a lack of funds doesn’t cause your design, prototyping and testing to grind to a halt.

To get leadership buy-in for your innovation project, be prepared to write up an operational plan for your short-term, medium-term and long-term goals, including plenty of metrics and milestones.

See also: Digital projects: 5 most common fails »

3. Set clear goals and communicate them

Every digital team needs something to aim for. Setting clear goals helps keep your projects on track, and ensures everybody is working towards the same thing. KPIs are a great way of tracking your progress, but to be effective, they need to be well-defined and communicated throughout the organisation.

Once you’ve defined your realistic, actionable and measurable KPIs, communicate them to your team regularly. Review your results, make appropriate actions, and iterate them in the next period.

4. Get to know your team

How are you supposed to lead a team if you don’t really know your teammates? To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your team, take time to get to know each individual.

Don’t stop at the people in your organisation—third-party contributors will be vital to your digital project, so it’s important you understand their role too. Found a weak link? Invest in skills development to fill the gap.

Read more: The skills you need to build successful digital experiences »

5. Assess your digital tools

Are your digital tools up for the challenge or do they need replacement? You’ve put together the perfect team—now it’s time to take an inventory of your tools. There are a few must-haves to ensure the smooth running of your project:

  • CMS - the right CMS will help you manage content while boosting creativity and collaboration.
  • Analytics - track your progress with intuitive analytics and reporting software. Make sure you choose a tool that makes it easy to carry out a periodical review of KPIs.
  • Marketing automation - reach the right people across channels with automation software.
  • CRM - stay connected to customers and streamline processes with Customer Relations Management tools.

6. Implement ContentOps

Content operations is a set of principles for creating consistent, cross-channel quality content—uniting people, process, and technology. To get ContentOps up and running, you need to start with people—i.e. your digital team.

Make sure you align team roles with the digital strategy of your organisation, then identify real tasks and assign them to your fitting teammates. The method of ContentOps aims to treat content production with the same respect as development, and having your team perform meaningful, efficient tasks week after week is a surefire way to lead them to triumph.

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Leading a digital team can seem intimidating, but trust us, it doesn’t have to be difficult. As with all projects, the key is planning, planning, and planning.

Before you launch into a digital project, take time to weigh up your team members, lock down funding, take stock of your tools and define your goals. From then on in, KPIs, prototyping and plenty of pats on the back will ensure your hardworking team heads straight to digital success.

Originally published 24 September 2018. Updated 6 April 2020.

Checklist: How to choose the right CMS

Frequently asked questions

What is project management?

The practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals at a specified time.

What does a project manager do?

Guiding the general direction of a given project, with responsibility toward the leadership group and for following up team members and deadlines.

What are project manager skills?

A great project manager should be skilled in leadership, human relations, earning trust, listening, authority, communications, and discipline.

What project management methods are there?

Some examples include Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Waterfall, Six Sigma, PMI/PMBOK, CPM, CCPM.

Topics: 
digital strategy
digital projects
project management
content operations
teamwork
marketing tools
innovation