How to Be a Project Manager in the Age of Digital Transformation

How to Be a Project Manager in the Age of Digital Transformation

by Deborah Keltner

Are you curious about the life of a project manager working in technology and innovation?  

The project manager is the glue that holds a project together, linking the client and partner teams with the technical resources needed to deliver the work. Good project managers are in demand because the integration of technologies, systems, and platforms demands sophisticated project management approaches. A good project manager demonstrates emotional intelligence, business savvy, excellent processes, and confidence holding themselves and others accountable.  

Working in digital transformation means that the work a project manager oversees can range from a blog post and digital marketing campaign to an artificial intelligence project that transforms business operations, and everything in between.  

At Valence we hire Project Managers, Marketing Project Managers, and Technical Project Managers. There is significant overlap in the roles, noting that Technical Project Managers often work closely with highly technical development teams and need a functional knowledge of technical concepts such as cloud technology and agile processes. 

We talked to several of our project managers at Valence to understand the day-to-day realities and pull the curtain back on technical project management at our innovation company.  

project management

Collaborate with the client to define the project vision, goals, and process 

“A lot of my interactions with clients involve asking questions to get to the heart of what they want or need. Our clients come to us with an idea of what they want, and they need me to figure out how to pull the team together to get it done,” says Angela Kaiser, Valence senior project manager.  

Our clients and partners often come to us with a high-level vision of their project, and the first order of business for a project manager is to provide the guidance needed to define the project, its features, and its desired results. This is often achieved during regular meetings that cover a lot of territory – the project manager is there to create clarity, move the project forward, and maintain accountability for progress. 

Project managers are ready. The ability to prepare for and conduct a meeting is core to success. Preparation includes being clear on meeting goals, identifying the right attendees, and creating an agenda. When conducting the meetings, our project managers create space for various perspectives to be heard while keeping momentum and progressing the project. PMs follow up with a clear, concise, useful distillation of meeting notes and actions so the team can be held accountable. 

Accountable for accountability 

“I want the designers, content writers, and engineers to feel like I’m on the team – being in the trenches working on product scripts isn’t always glamorous, but it builds cohesiveness with the team. That’s my leadership style.” Glen Lewis, Technical Project Manager at Valence. 

You can’t talk about project management without talking about accountability. The entire team, including clients and partners, depends on the project manager to track action items, deadlines, and the project status. While the accountability to get tasks done is distributed throughout the team, the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the project is completed on time and with the desired result falls on the project manager. So, you should be comfortable tracking commitments, holding people to them, and of course meeting any commitments that you make. 

“As the project manager, I need to bring in the right people and then help those people stay focused on what the project needs next. My role involves lots of follow-up, some chasing down, and open transparent communication,” says Allison Pass, a senior project manager with Valence since 2019.  

Holding people accountable doesn’t mean the same thing as nagging! In fact, a soft skill that is core to successful project management is making it easy for people to understand what is needed from them and following up effectively. It helps to like people and the teams you are working with.  

Our project managers work with clients and partners around the world. Any given meeting may have attendees from Iceland, Seattle, Nashville, and Munich. Having a natural ability to connect with diverse people and backgrounds makes the back-and-forth of getting projects done easier and more fun for everyone. 

Inevitably, something will happen with a client or project that requires the team to switch gears or make last-minute changes to a deliverable. Project managers need a steady hand and a flexible approach when those moments come up because they set the tone for the team and also help the client to understand the implications of their change.  

Holding people accountable is easier in a culture where leadership supports its project managers. We support project managers by making it clear that we have our team’s back, and our focus is on making the situation better. We expect the same from our clients and are happy to report that our clients are just as solution-oriented as we are. 

Part of a collaborative team of smart and creative people 

“I’ve reached out to people who weren’t on my project for help, suggestions, collaboration – and all of our coworkers are always willing to help and give time to others even when it’s not their project,” says Angela Kaiser, “I’ve been pleasantly surprised because a lot of us are remote and haven’t been able to meet in person yet, so the collaboration really surprised me and I love it.”   

In addition to the project team, which includes clients and partners, a project manager is also part of the larger Valence team. Our flat, open-door culture means there is a lot of collaboration with team members who may not be assigned to your project.  

Angela continues, “Before I was a project manager, my jobs were about paying attention to only what I was doing. As a project manager, it’s my job to help make other people’s jobs easier, to help organize workstreams, and to help our team collaborate to get the job done. I love working with other people and seeing what I can do to help them.”  

Our project managers work with an eclectic group of people in a unique environment. The combination of skills and professionals needed to deliver innovation and digital transformation means there is a lot of variety in the perspectives of the team. This also means that it’s a fertile environment for a variety of opinions, challenges to norms and assumptions, and creative thinking across strategy, design, and engineering teams. Being a project manager puts you at the center of these conversations.  

“I’m excited to see my coworkers in meetings because I genuinely like them,” says Glen Lewis, “I wake up in the morning and I’m excited to hang out with these people, have dynamic discussions, and talk about things that excite me.” 

“You can expect to work for a great company with some really talented people and a great internal support system. Any time I run into questions and want to know more about something, there Is someone at Valence who will help me out. If I reach out, the help is always there,” adds Allison Pass. 


“The company puts me in these roles for two reasons: One is to deliver per the contract, and the other is to provide an experience that makes our clients want to come back to Valence. They have a problem and I’m here to help them. I’m very motivated by the results,” says Glen Lewis. 

Project management can offer a long and rewarding career path. The digital transformation industry is incredibly dynamic and the project teams are motivated, innovative, and creative. Project managers get to work with clients and partners from some of the biggest brands in the world as they work on their most innovative projects. It’s hard work, and the successes are quite a thrill.  

Additional Resources:

A New Approach to QA

A New Approach to Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance

There’s no single path that can bring someone into a career in technology, and Quality Assurance is a common entry point throughout the tech industry, including at Valence.

Someone in QA is responsible for improving software development processes and preventing defects in production. The truth is that the industry hasn’t done a great job of making QA a great job. It’s common to hear stories about long thankless hours, short notices, disorganized processes, and the after-thought QA engineers get to the process. We’ve worked hard to get QA right at Valence.

We have built QA into our agile engineering processes, which is as good for our employees as it is for our clients. What we do with QA is common for Agile but for the gaming industry It’s not typical process, structure, or employment path, so we have outlined a few of the things that make our QA program unique at Valence.

The driving principle of our QA program is that we recognize that our QA engineers are vital members of a cross-functional team. We are invested in each QA engineer and their career path, making mutual long-term commitments. Valence is in the software industry, where QA engineers can enjoy greater career longevity, professional growth, and be ahead of the curve with latest and greatest technologies.

A typical day in QA at Valence 

“My main objective is to deliver a quality product to our customers. We test products from CX perspectives and from functionality perspectives to ensure best-in-class experiences on all platforms like web browsers, mobile, and tablets.”

Raanadil Shaikh, Quality Assurance Lead

Our QA team works on technology-driven projects, testing features across multiple platforms, focusing on the end-customer and their experiences.  

Valence’s teams follow a standard agile scrum practice. We involve the QA engineers as we are starting and finishing sprints so we can include the QA team’s needs and expectations in our planning. Like many technology firms, our QA team uses pull-requests to trigger testing. The testing person runs test cases as defined in the sprint planning. If the feature meets the acceptance criteria, they’ll be validated.  

One of the features of the QA process that makes it so effective is that it is flexible.

“The QAs at Valence have a lot of flexibility to create the structure and testing that is right for the project. In previous QA roles, I’ve had to follow a very strict prescribed process, even if it wasn’t right for the project. That’s not the case here.”

Emily Bright, QA Analyst

Bright adds, “QA is heavily impacted by the people you work with. Our job is to find issues with the work that other people do. Everyone at Valence is very open and accepting of the QA team’s input, and they tend to presume that the QA engineer is correct, which is really nice.” 

What’s also unique is that we share tools across teams as much as possible. Our QA team uses the same tools as the rest of the Engineering team. Our QA team is empowered to work with different versions of code (using the GIT command line) and deploying builds to their local machine/cloud stack. Our QA team doesn’t write code, but they interact with code. This isn’t as common a practice at other firms as it should be. 

Automation is a big part of QA at Valence, which dramatically improves the work experience of our team. We use automated testing, so our QA engineers don’t have to repeatedly run the same tedious processes, which is exhausting and uninspiring. Thanks to automated Acceptance Tests, we get to focus our QA engineers’ attention on the more interesting aspects of the project, the new features, the Ad Hoc, and the end-to-end customer experience. It’s a big part of the reason that our QA team is happier than most.  

“Monotony is the biggest risk of many other common QA roles, but that’s not the case at Valence because of the variety of projects and technologies we use,” according to Jaison Wattula, who oversees Valence’s QA program. Shaikh agrees, “I’m challenged every day because I’m not limited to one product for a long time – I’m testing the latest products on different platforms, which is really cool.” 

Additionally, Valence QA engineers are often front and center with the client, our developers, and their peers. Our QA team touches every feature and needs to understand the project goals, development principles, and approach as well as any other member of the team. Since they are the first line of defense against bugs and errors, the project goes better when the QA engineers collaborate with cross-functional teams (including clients) and participate in decision-making.  

“Valence is a special place because there is a real appreciation for diverse perspectives and viewpoints – I love collaborating with coworkers and clients to find the right innovation for a project.”

Raanadil Shaikh, Quality Assurance Lead

Bright adds, “When I find issues (which is the fun part), I usually either come up with a solution, offer a workaround, or find another way to help the team solve the bug. This is faster, more collaborative, and an important part of my contribution.”  

While we have typical days, we don’t have typical projects. Our QA team needs to be comfortable interacting with new and emerging technologies. Valence has a varied roster of services and technologies, and our QA team interacts with all of it.  

Who thrives in QA at Valence? 

Our team is successful because the people here are passionate tech enthusiasts who are detail-oriented, curious, and want to contribute to the whole development process.  

Valence has an Always Learning culture, and this is particularly true of the QA team. People who love learning new technologies, platforms, tools, and best practices thrive here. “There are never ending learning possibilities,” says Shaikh. 

Ambitious tech enthusiasts who want to use QA as a steppingstone to other parts of the industry do well here. While it’s rare to transition from QA to code writing, the QA engineer role is a clear incubator role to grow into other technology positions and expand skills. Because our QA engineers are exposed to the process and every role within that process, they are uniquely positioned to choose their next career step within Valence. QA engineers can grow into project coordination, project management, dashboarding and visualization, and more. It’s the right place to start if you want to grow into the non-code and more abstract technology roles where you guide and support client projects.  

“We work hard to hire the right people for our QA team, and even with all that effort, nothing makes me happier than seeing a member of our QA team get promoted into other areas of the business.”

Jaison Wattula, Director of Reporting and Automation

Does this sound like you? We’re hiring! You can find the Quality Assurance Lead job description here.