Inside Project Management at BORN Group with Anita Sforza
Project management is a skill that can be found in almost every career. To deliberate with and lead a team to achieve a particular objective while navigating constraints is a talent found across verticals and throughout life. That broad, multifaceted skill can be a lot to unpack for someone outside the space, and even outside the particular industry they intend to project manage for. That’s why we’ve reached out to Senior Director of Project Management & Delivery at BORN Group, Anita Sforza, to gain insights into what project management looks like in the eCommerce space, and what skills and concepts are most essential to find success in that community.
Anita has a unique path that cultivated her passion in project management – at nineteen, she worked part-time at a multimedia agency that specializes in higher education in app development. After beginning to help pick up calls by various educational publishers to ease work among the smaller team, her work developing apps soon transitioned into the role of development and project management. From there, she began to build on her experience in project management in the tech sector.
“Project management is a multifaceted discipline that demands a combination of strategic and technical skills, working with the development team as well as clients,” began Anita, recognizing how many different talents that the solutions demanded of PMs in the space – namely technical experience, analytical skills, and passion for process improvement. The financial components and skill cannot be understated as well, as project managers are tasked with overseeing budgets as well as the project itself. Tying these talents together is a key foundation of risk mitigation and risk management – complications can emerge at any step of the journey, and it’s essential to be able to reorient.
On a broader level, project managers should try to see themselves as product owners to help cultivate the right end goal. Product owners think and breath the requirements of what they are building, whether on an app or website in the eCommerce space. Envisioning what the requirements are, how one executes on them, and how one delivers are shared between the product owner and the project manager – it is just on the project manager to execute. Balancing technical and creative skills comes a long way in envisioning how to execute in the shortest path possible. Partnering up with your team and leaning in on their expertise is also one of the biggest assets one might have as a PM practitioner. When some people think of PMs, they assume someone who exclusively builds timelines around client expectations, but building out a project execution while consulting and continuously validating with one’s own team can ensure a seamless experience.
Anita then followed up, noting how, “first and foremost, a successful project manager understands that knowledge of the area they are working in is key to their success.” Project management as a whole is platform-agnostic, there are project managers in construction as well as in healthcare, or any given space where work needs to be overseen. Given BORN specializes in eCommerce, anyone seeking success in BORN project management should have that background and interest in eCommerce, and understand that relevant platform knowledge goes a long way.
In context to BORN and most digital agencies, project managers should be familiar with agile and sprint planning. It takes a lot of skill to look at an implementation project and create a development plan for your team based on targeted agile development KPIs. That development plan process can be broken down into a few major components, beginning with calculating the total team capacity via its raw allocated time. A couple of those KPIs consist of the overall team capacity and the velocity that is needed to achieve on-time delivery for our sprint goals. The velocity is one KPI that’s generally a moving target that is measured sprint-by-sprint. Not every team works at the same pace, and the variety of skill levels in a team should be accounted for. The simplest way to gauge team velocity is to set baselines and expectations early on. Measuring and adjusting sprint by sprint is the mark of a good project manager, who should pace tickets to accelerate or decelerate velocity to avoid blockers and missed deadlines. With all those points in mind, a project manager can effectively capture large implementations and integrations at a healthy speed, mindful of capturing weighted features first with the right talent to take them on.
Project management is a field that inspires leadership and teamwork to deliver a client’s task. When it comes to exploring Anita’s particular role at BORN as Senior Director of Project Management & Delivery, one sees all the above skills and techniques at full display. Anita manages a series of project deliveries for her portfolio with oversight from BORN, reviewing teams internally and externally, while scoping, budgeting, and resourcing to capture a holistic view of client objectives.
For those aspiring toward project management in eCommerce, she advises that project management is “a rigorous field that rewards collaboration, honesty, and creativity” and those interested are best to do research to gain a deeper understanding of the artifacts that go into the job. Building out one’s experience and having the best foot forward is key – don’t be afraid to apply for project management jobs where you might only have 20% of what is asked, so long as you are willing to demonstrate an effort to learn and adapt. Everyone has an inner project manager within themselves, and it is an intense yet rewarding field that can provide dividends in one’s personal growth and career, especially in the eCommerce sector.
For further insights on BORN Groups and Anita’s project management in action, check out our recent case study on Nestlé Purina here.