Digital Project Management Summit 2016

Takeaways you don’t want to miss

The Digital Project Management Summit, organized by the Bureau of Digital, exists primarily to unify PMs in the digital and tech spaces and provide a forum for knowledge sharing and collaboration for professionals that quite often get a little siloed in their processes (I’m looking at you, army-of-one PM). This year’s summit, held in San Antonio on October 13th and 14th delivered on all counts with topics ranging from utilizing soft skills to break the Iron Triangle to getting your zen on and practicing mindfulness to hone your project management skills. Equal parts validation and practical skills and processes, the DPMS provided a fresh set of tools for my project management arsenal and a long list of professional contacts with an incredibly robust experience in Digital Project Management. 

As this has been my first year to attend the DPMS, I had expectations that were somewhat ambiguous. What exactly was I to think my key takeaways should be? What were my measures of success at the end of the week? Luckily, the ambiguity quickly cleared after the first few speakers presented and the overall value of the summit became apparent. This is, after all, a summit for Project Managers organized by Project Managers, and let’s be honest. When are we ever irresolute or unclear about a session’s takeaways? Below are just a few of topics and takeaways I found most impactful, as well as resources to some of the tool and templates speakers shared at the DPMS.

Army of Awesome with Brett Harned

Brett Harned has lived in the DPM space for the past 15 years and is one of the primary organizers for the DPMS this year. He shared 7 principles of Digital Project Management – chock full of validations and templates available for your own use. It was a warm and fuzzy affirmation of what brought us to digital project management professionally in the first place as well as an easily digested list of best-practices for keeping our skills super-sharp.

Harned has a blog packed to the gills with resources at www.brettharned.com. The principles I mentioned before are tucked away in there, and they are definitely words to live by. 

How Can I Help You Now It’s Too Late with Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth Harrin is a PM in health care across the pond in the UK. She described how a large part of her role managing IT is supporting other health care professionals whose entire day is sometimes telling people the worst news of their life. Yikes, right?

Harrin broke down her technique for constantly soliciting and tracking her performance across several groups including her direct team members, clients, and business partners. She stressed the importance of taking action when feedback is provided and highlighted the sizable gains she measured after dedicating a year to her endeavor.

Author of Customer-Centric Project Management and active speaker/organizer of her own slew of events, Harrin shares many more actionable tips and insights to improve your PM game on her blog GirlsGuideToPM.com.

Your Brain Hates Project Management (AKA You Are Dumb) with Carson Pierce

Despite its brash-as-hell title, Carson Pierce’s talk on human nature, the evolution of the brain, and the vast disparity between how you work now and how you work best is strangely uplifting. This highly interactive topic showed the audience time after time that techniques like filtering and multi-tasking are fundamentally flawed, that we are not good at estimations at all, and that we will always succumb to procrastination. But through that dismal self esteem beatdown came self-awareness and easy tips to keep us on top, even when our dumb brains want only to keep us down. 

Pierce has a blog focused on PM techniques and experiences viewed through a psychology lens and told through his whip-smart sense of humor at www.carsonpierce.com. He also has a robust reading list available at www.goodreads.com/list/show/103793.Project_Management_Psychology

Key Moves for Better Scoping and Estimation with Jack Skeels

Jack Skeels is the founder and CEO of AgencyAgile, a management training company out of LA teaching a striped-down version of the Agile Manifesto we all know and love. Skeels’ talk raised some of the flaws of a traditional project scoping and showed us how vastly different our assumptions of our understanding of scope can be from our actual understanding of scope. Skeels also laid out some extreme ground rules for stepping back and letting teams ask the scoping questions they need to get the work done. 

Find out more about AgencyAgile and read up on other articles from Jack Skeels at www.agencyagile.com/articles-articles-books-blogs. Pretty soon you’ll be the laziest manager with the most awesome team, just how Skeels would want it.

Interested in other Bureau of Digital events? They are constantly putting on camps, summits, and workshops across the country so stay informed at www.bureauofdigital.com.

Sarah Wood is a Technical Program Manager at Umbel, a data management platform in Austin, Texas. When she isn’t finding new ways to quietly project manage her entire life, she can be found drinking great local beers on her patio with her dog Aloysius.