Summary: Digital Project Management UK conference

On Thursday 29 January, I braved the snow in search of a new lanyard, coffee in small paper cups, and some really interesting perspectives on digital project management at the DPMUK 2015 Conference in Manchester.

First, the good: “People are Weird, I’m Weird”

In which Sam Barnes employed a remarkable collection of gifs and memes to illustrate some excellent points on introverts, extroverts, talented jerks and how to integrate their quirks into a team (takeaway - don’t hire the talented jerks, they’re never worth the trouble).

There was some fascinating stuff about the introvert-extrovert spectrum, and some really cool ideas for team building and monitoring. Check out his slides for more info, as well as a picture of Abraham Lincoln riding a bear while brandishing an M4 carbine.

Also good: Suze Haworth illustrating Project Management Pitfalls with the help of John McClane, James Bond, The Terminator, and a few other action heroes, and Peta Kennett - Wilson, who gave us a really good tool kit to use when Inheriting a Problem Project.

Next, the great: In his talk “Did We Really Say We Would Do That?

Stephen Thomas explained the benefits of what he called the Price per Point Model over the more standard Fixed Price or Time and Materials frameworks. 

As Stephen explained, Fixed Price costings lead to an “us vs. them” mentality in agencies, and when the prices and timescales are set in stone, the only thing that is flexible is quality. With a Time and Materials framework, the risk is all with the client, and it can promote erratic and inefficient ways of working.

With the Price per Point model, clients are in control of their product backlog, risk is balanced between the client and the agency,  and efficiency AND quality are rewarded instead of just one or the other. There’s so much more good information than what I’ve outlined here - luckily, Stephen has posted a really great summary of his talk on the Digital Oxford PM blog.
I only have a couple of small issues with the conference. There could have been a few more ginger biscuits during the coffee breaks - I ended up with an inferior bourbon - and I wonder if we could do with less of the war metaphors that seem to come up when discussing agency/client relationships. In my view, we probably shouldn’t describe our project documentation as  “battle plans” or our meeting rooms as “war rooms” - unless we’re really clear that the client is on our side, and the enemy is low quality and missed milestones.
Katie Buffalo has been managing projects for seven years, with a focus on digital for the last five. She's an Agile evangelist who believes in the transformative power of good manners and a well-organised to-do list.