Sam speaks at DPM:UK 2014

By: Sam


  • conferences,
  • speaking

After the success of the inaugural Digital PM Summit in Philadelphia last October, I was lucky enough to be asked to help organise and speak at the first UK-based digital project management event, DPM:UK, held on 29th January in Manchester.

In the months leading up to the event I worked with both Manchester Digital and Matt Thornhill from Code ComputerLove to find speakers and decide on a format for the day.

We ended up with a full house of 285 tickets sold and a great lineup of speakers including Brett Harned from Happy Cog, Paul Boag from Headscape and Mark Coster, Head of Delivery at Thoughtworks and a few lightning talks and a Q&A panel.

Videos of the talks will be released soon and you can see the photos from the day on the DPM:UK Flickr set.

Below is a brief summary of all of the day’s talks.

Brett Harned opens the day

Being a Better PM

The day started with Brett Harned’s talk ‘Being a Better PM’.

In his hour, Brett went through 25 tips to improve as a digital project manager, also to not be afraid to have difficult conversations and to be proud of doing the job you do.

Other tips from Brett included: Ask questions, learn from your mistakes, be patient, set expectations, lock down your timeline, establish roles, know your craft and more. Check out Brett’s slides on Speaker Deck.

Vice Versa Client Management

I followed Brett with my talk, ‘Vice Versa Client Management’, on my experience of being a client when tasked to deliver new Global Personals and @globaldev sites. The summary being, that being a client is really hard, in fact so much harder than I would’ve ever imagined that I wanted to share it with those currently on the agency side managing clients.

Rob Borley

Change Your Business, Change the World

Up next was Rob Borley of Dootrix and he spoke about how he runs his business from a people management perspective and Agile processes.

The Agile part was interesting to hear given our own recent transformation to Scrum, but for me personally now managing a team, hearing what culture Rob is instilling at Dootrix was fascinating.

It was a real eye opener on where the digital industry is moving towards regarding remote working, flexible working hours, investing in your staff in terms of regular hack days and conference attendance support - something I’m pleased to say we practice @globaldev and all are areas that are becoming more key to attracting and retaining quality teams.

Q&A Panel

Q&A Panel

After the break, Paul Boag hosted a Q&A panel with Lisa Vigar, a Senior Product Manager at the BBC, Helen Holmes, Senior Project Manager at Code Computerlove and Ian May, Programme Director at Creative Jar.

In the hour they discussed a wide range of topics, from what the difference in their job roles were to ways they deal with the ever increasing range of factors a digital project manager needs to consider now e.g. responsive web design, mobile first, mobile device testing and QA.

Agile Kaleidoscope - Mirrors and Patterns

Mark Coster gave a talk on how Thoughtworks deliver large scale projects via an Agile approach, citing examples of projects he’d worked on such as BBC News and Sony. As with several of the talks and discussions on the day, Agile was coming through as a very strong theme and something many digital agencies are curious about how to move towards with clients.

Taming the Unicorn: Dealing with Troublesome UX Folk

Ian Fenn, who we’ve worked with in the past, talked about digital project management from a different angle, from the angle of a UX practitioner. He specifically focussed on educating the audience on common issues he finds with PMs e.g. that there is a difference between UI and UX and why it’s important to have UX involved much earlier i.e. before scope is agreed.

Suze Haworth

Maintaining Project Momentum - For Your Team, Your Client and of course Yourself

Suze Haworth gave a great talk on something we used to encounter @globaldev pre-Agile transformation, managing really long projects i.e. battling project fatigue. It was good to hear that when we have had to manage this ourselves, that we were doing what others had also found to be effective e.g. breaking work into smaller more manageable chunks, celebrating successes and remembering to be sensible about making sure people were taking breaks and not burning out.

Digital Adaptation - Time to Unite Your Hands

Paul Boag ended the day with a really inspiring talk, ‘Digital Adaptation - Time to Unite Your Hands’, that had the whole room completely engaged. The main message he was getting across is that we are the new generation, the digital generation.

At this point in time many of us are working for companies and management teams that are stuck in the business mindset spawned in the industrial age e.g. bums on seats, top-down dictatorial management structures and old fashioned attitudes towards remote working, flexible working, autonomy etc.

One main message was that maintaining this old skool approach is quickly seeing businesses that are unable to adapt to newer management approaches and philosophies falling behind those that are embracing it. Those that adapt are attracting and keeping the best talent because they offer more freedom both in work and out of work.


Overall the day was a fantastic success and I’d like to thank Global Personals for supporting me with time off to attend and speak at the conference. The digital project management community is just starting to mobilise and I expect to see a lot more meetups and events in 2014.

Follow @dpmuk14 for more updates.

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