Takeaways: Digital PM Summit 2017


Takeaways: Digital PM Summit 2017

The Digital PM Summit will take place October 15-17 in Las Vegas, NV. In preparation for the event, we’ve sent our speakers some questions so you can find out more about what you'll be learning. This post is the first in the Q&A series. If you’ve got questions for us or our speakers, feel free to reach out to us or leave a comment here.

When you attend a conference, you want to be sure you’re getting everything out of it that you possibly can. Well, we think it’s safe to say that the Digital PM Summit 2017 will be jam-packed with helpful tips, tactics, and discussion about topics that are important to the practice of digital project management. But what will you actually take away from sessions? Look no further. We asked our speakers, “What is one valuable thing that attendees will take away from your session?

“Why it’s so important to pay attention to the little things when managing people or projects and how if you do this, it unlocks so many positive things when it comes to teamwork, loyalty and trust.” - Sam Barnes

“Attendees will leave with a checklist of team attributes and tools against which they can evaluate their team’s decision-making efficacy, and develop a plan for strengthening their teams’ abilities to be efficient, democratic decision-makers.” - Abby Fretz

“An understanding of which Agile practices can be modified to work within a Digital context without completely compromising the point of doing Agile in the first place.” - Dave Prior

“I believe that setting and managing expectations is one of the trickiest tasks of project management, due to the fact we’re constantly dealing with the unknown. How do we know what to expect? Stakeholders’ expectations are also one of the biggest risks to derailing any project – whether that’s from a product, timing, budget, technical or design point of view. I want to give attendees the power to make managing constantly changing expectations a seamless part of their project delivery.” - Suzanna Haworth

“How to use techniques that improvisers use to create content out of thin air that you can use to better communicate with your team.” - Gary Ware

“My session is all about money and one valuable thing I’d like attendees to take from it is that they should be proud of their commercial success.” - Peta Kennett-Wilson

“Silos are often a closely protected way of life in many business cultures, and DPMs have definitely experienced - and been frustrated by - them. My session will offer a new perspective on how to work with silos, instead of just banging your head against the institutional structure.” - Amanda Costello

“Just how valuable two minutes can be to your entire day. The two minute rule is part of my overall organization and working system and I look forward to sharing it!” - Greg Ryder

Grab your tickets now and join us in Vegas October 15-17.


The Pause Clause


The Pause Clause

Since the first Bureau gathering in 2012, conversations inevitably turn to managing clients and workflow. Nothing can derail a service company like a project that stalls out. It messes up resourcing, scheduling, cash flow, quality, culture and the client relationship. 

At my shop, nGen Works, we wrote a clause for our contracts that would keep projects on track and give us control if they did slow down. It improved the overall health of our company and has since been adopted by dozens of shops. We call it the “Pause Clause.”

If a client deliverable — such as input, approvals, or payment — is late more than 10 business days the project will be considered “on hold.” Once the deliverable is received and the project is re-activated it will be rescheduled based on nGen Works’ current workload and availability. Just to say it loud and clear, it could be weeks to get you back in the system if the project is put on hold.

When I’ve explained the Pause Clause to digital agency owners they almost always adopt it. Occasionally, I’ll get some pushback. Here are the top concerns I’ve heard over the years:

1. Our clients would never agree to that.

Hmm … so, your clients think that they should come and go as they please, and you should be at their beck and call? You have bigger issues, mainly that your clients don’t respect you and never will. Not until you respect yourself. Your business will suffer from cash flow issues and your personal health will suffer as you stress about every project.

2. We love our clients.

Hey now! We love our clients, too. In fact, the Pause Clause protects good clients and keeps their projects moving and on time. It only impacts the clients who can’t make decisions or get things done in a timely manner.

3. Sometimes our clients can't control approvals.

Again, you have bigger issues. Mainly, you’re not plugged in at the right level.

In all these years I don’t remember a client ever asking us to remove it, but I have explained why it’s there. The conversation usually goes like this:

Client: We’ll stay up to speed on all of our deliverables, no problem there.
Me: That’s great to hear. Sometimes it’s beyond your control, like legal reviews or content from another source.
Client: Would that cause us to miss our deadline?
Me: Only if those deliverables are late. But, now that you know, you can start preparing for those potential delays.
Client: Sigh. Okay, thanks.

The Pause Clause is beneficial for both the web shop and the client. It sets expectations and starts a conversation about staying on schedule. Plus, you’ll rarely have to use it. Normally an email with the subject line “Pause Clause” is enough to keep things moving. Depending on the nature of the delays, you can be sympathetic and waive the clause or let them know you have to enact it but will do everything you can to minimize the delay.