DPMUK 2015

DPMUK 2015 a conference by digital project managers, for digital project managers has just ended. It’s the first PM specific conference I have attended and I was not disappointed. Read on to see some of the highlights of that cold, snowy January day in Manchester.

Matt Thornhill

I love the process of creation. I love when I can see something grow, to be able to form it and to be able to see the final result. I could be talking about children, houses or politics now, but I not. I’m talking about digital solutions.

The reason I got into project management was that I wanted to take a central part in the creation process and to be able to drive it forward. I come from a developer background and I absolutely loved the work, but I saw that a lot of the project management was sloppy and did not understand the development process. And I wanted to take a more central role in the creation. And my biggest strength have always been that I am a generalist and a little bit good at everything, but not really an expert at anything.

And I thought the Digital Project Manager job would be about technology and process. And it is. But it is much more about people. About relations, feelings, expectations, culture, about building a team and about the individuals. I am finding out this the hard way and am slowly understanding that these things are the most important pieces in order to deliver great solutions as a team.

And I was very glad that this years DPM had that topic high on the agenda.

Sam Barnes

First off was Sam Barnes. A very funny and smart gentlemen that lured us into thinking he would entertain us with cat gifs for one hour. But that was all a show to get us prepared. He had something important to say. It’s about the people. People are weird. And we as project managers need to see the individuals and it’s our job to study people. Its ok to be weird. Its ok to be introvert.
I also really liked the tips on creating a team radar to keep track of the individuals in your project, that is a trick I will try out. You can see some of this in the slides from the talk here. And some great quotes from Sams talk:

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s the hopping the fence that’s the temporary thrill.”  @AmyJoMartin

“Testing is a task, quality is an attitude.” @rob_smith

“If you repeatedly criticizes someone for liking something you don’t, they won’t stop liking it. They’ll stop liking you.” @perform


Rodri Coleman

Next up was Rhodri Coleman and he reminded us that project management can be quite painfull. This image pretty much sums it up:
this is pm

Lightening talks

Some highlights for me:

“Don’t rely on specs, know the project inside out” @suzehaworth

“Arnold does not have only one megagun, he relies on a backup” @suzehaworth

And of course Stephen Thomas on trying out the “Price per point” model. and with the great quote: “There are no old roads to new destinations”. I really liked the idea and the creativity behind it. More on the subject in the blog post.

Rachael A. Ball gave us some tips on working remotely and note the fact that “offices have become interruption factories”.
 Peta Wilson also had a really good talk on inheriting a problem project. And yes, it includes crying in the bathroom.


Great discussions and questions from the panel. Meghan Wilker recommended that you assign a PM to manage the pitch and that you deliver good news and bad news a  the same velocity. Sam is again pushing the fact that we are not box-tickers and that if a PM says that he is delivering all projects on time, he is lying.
DPM panel

Meri Williams

 Another great talk from Meri and hard to summarize in just some words, but again pushing that it is about the people. And that we are often fooling ourselves. “We are measuring activity, not results” and “The job of a PM is pointing people in the right direction and getting the hell out of the way!“. She also did a good job at defining awesome and talked about emotional intelligence: “Awesome = purpose, autonomy, mastery, inclusion”.

Meghan and Nancy

Surely one of the best talks of the day and again focus on people and especially emotional intelligence. And they also defined the best project manager of all times: Sam. No, not Barnes (who also claimed to be a hobbit), but Samwise Gamgee:


The people

But I must say, the best part of the conference were all the discussions with fellow DPMs and to share their ideas, problems and to hear how they work. The workshop by Brett Harned also facilitated this in a very good way. Also great work on organizing everything by Matt Thornhill. I highly recommend this conference and wish there were more events like it.

So thank you all for a good event and hope to see you again next year!

Published by

Anders M. Andersen

Digital Project Manager and Front End Developer.