“Mistakes which happen over and over with multiple different clients – can usually be tracked back to the agency.” — Carl Smith

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the DPM summit in Philadelphia, PA. The most worthwhile thing I brought back was the confidence to act on the changes we need. Our workflow at Plank is very solid and only needs minor tuneups, which makes things even trickier. I now have a better sense of what we need to run even better. It was like going to a master mechanics class. I'd like to offer a huge thank you to BrettGregAllison and the whole team at Happy Cog who made it happen.

Here's the second part of my favourite take aways from the event (See part 1 here).

Liesl Pfeffer

Risk Management for Digital Projects

Liesl gave one solid piece of advice I could act on right away.

Take away:

"At the start of any project — set checkpoints which are immovable"

Rachel Gertz

Your Clients Matter, So Put Your Team First

Rachel had an interesting scope management tactic.

Take away:

Introducing the "If you're not at kickoff — you don't get a say" clause. The idea is that if stakeholders want to have a say in decisions they need to be present from the beginning to avoid end game surprises and scope changes.

Sam Barnes

Vice Versa Client Management

Sam suggested a simple idea that is one of my favourites from the whole conference:

Take away:

Send a consistent weekly reporting actions list to keep everyone in the know:

  1. What will be done this week
  2. What will be done next week
  3. Blockers/issues
  4. Revised timeline
  5. Revising budget

Each section is filled out and sent once a week even if there's no change. Everyone likes getting emails that say the budget and timeline remains intact with no revisions!

Carl Smith

Client Whisperer - Lessons from the Front Lines

Carl made us realize that nobody is perfect - even us agency folk.

Take aways:

"Common pitfalls — mistakes which happen over and over with multiple different clients – can usually be tracked back to the agency."

"No one likes a buzzer beater (trying to guess what the client is going to say)."

Aretha Choi

3 Difficult Conversations You’re Bound To Encounter as a Producer

Aretha reminded us of the importance of being honest. Especially when delivering bad news.

Take away:

"There is no such thing as a diplomatic hand grenade."

Brenna Heaps & Katie High

The PM’s Toolkit

Brenna and Katie shared some of their tried and tested DPM resources.

Take away:

HappyCog has no phones on desks — instead they use grasshopper for forwarding calls to cellphone. 

Breandán Knowlton (@bfk)

Managing Up, Down, and Sideways

Brendan shared the Fiske Model "a framework for a unified theory of social relations" — covering Community sharing, Authority ranking, Equality matching, and Market pricing.

Take away:

Understanding which category each relationship falls into can help everyone.

Michael Lopp

Stables and Volatiles

Michael talked about taking risks and growing a small business.

Take away:

"If you're planning on growing, you need to create an environment where both Stables and Volatiles can thrive."

A bit of fun

Lastly I must end this with the late night question that kept us all belly laughing.

"Would you rather be killed by a bear or a shark? There is no escape, and you're definitely going to die. Which do you choose?"


Can't wait for DPM2014!