PMOZ 2008 – Melbourne – A Summary
Two days of conference just passed by and i returned back from Melbourne on Wednesday evening.
Bottom Line, the conference had a greater audience than the one at the Gold Coast but couldnt reach its own set standards, set in the prior year.
So lets lets go through it in a structure way:
1) Delegates – Around 600 delegates have been attracted, these have been the unofficial numbers communicated via the Grapevines. Due to the fact that PMOZ got combined with the SEPG (Software and Systems Engineering Process Group) these numbers might be perceived far bigger than the ones from 2007. Actually, even if these were the unoffical numbers, we couldnt see them. Perceived around 300 to 400 people.
2) Venue – The venue was in Central Melbourne with some bars around it. Acommondation, if you took the easy route which i did by booking via the registration website as they have included two hotels into the booking path, you could either choose the Sofitel or a Hotel (Appartment flat) within 15 min walking distance, which was the cheaper option. The venue suited the conference and the number of participants. What i do not understand why you would put the best pratice sessions in a weired room (lomng room with windows to the ceiling) on the 35th floor where delegates need to take an elevator to get up and no sign directs you to that room. I understand that there might not have been enough rooms at the basement but its hard to get people up there and have the delegates focused if they can enjoy a fantastic view over Melbourne
3) Streams – seemed to be reasonable (see my post here) how ever at the end it didn’t matter. Delegates focused on the presentation topic and not of the streams. I don’t know whether the stream concept is worth it, as i know presenters that have pulled out because they have been put into the wrong stream (whether by accident or because it was the only empty space left). It gets you focused, but it also limits your abilities to put presenters into the right spot if a stream is „booked out“. I thought, there were just to many streams. 6 streams for both conferences plus the workshop / case study stream is a waste. So many interesting topics across both conferences PMOZ / SEPG and so many you cant attend. And the anger is even bigger if you realize the presentation you went to is worth leaving. Sometimes less is more.
4) The Trade Show – The Trade show attracted the abvious industry candidates, like big ships like Primavera, IBM, BEA and others but also smaller sized comapnies like the reformed PMPartner Group, AIM with its great specialiced Book stand (Another post to follow on that), Mosaic Project Services, Mindavation and others. The Trade show was the perfect playground for networking and find topics to talk about. Whether it got the value for the exhbitiours, I guess so, as you get your 100% target audience. Whether they talk to you or other delegates is something different. That the food was placed in the exhibition area was definately helpfull compared to last year at the Gold Coast where the trade show was outside in a tent and hardly got any delegates especially during presentations. The only hard thing was that the trade was split in two different areas over two different levels.
5) The Food and Nibbles – this is a difficult one, as not much to talk about as not much was there, The organizers tried to split the delegates and guide them to the relevant exhibition floor to get there food by handing out green and yellow cards. How ever, one area was far easier to access and more convenient to the other so most of the people hang out there even if they should have gone to the other area. Lessons learnt, you cant manipulate a hungry and food desperate crowd. Therefore one foodarea was always empty where the other one still had some food even if you had been 5 minutes late, 10 minutes later most of the food was gone.If you got some, it was great to have, especially the fruits were fresh and not that popular.
6) The Evening / Dinner Function – Tuesday night the dinner function was on, with the theme „Bling it on“ where you suppose to dress like a rapper or something similar. 90% failed, so did we. How ever, some plastic jewelery on the tables helped to at least put on a sparkling plastic ring. The awards for the prowd sponsors have been handed over and the music started playing, and of course according to the theme they played rap songs. A dance group did some warm up during and after dinner, attracted the crowd to dance and shortly into the evening it was to talk and communicate as even in the rear of the room you couldnt understand a word. The trivia for that night had the „Blues Brothers“ as the topic where the people able to use a smart phone and check out wikipedia had a clear advantage. We have been good in typing but by far not good enough. Compared to the GoldCoast event and the great standard set there, this one was 2 levels below. The pirat theme, the costumes, the music, the movie „pirates of the carebean“ and the dance floor have been the ingredients for a better function menue than this years on. „Bring it back“
7) Networking – Was great, as lots of spare time was granted and the trade show provided lots of reasons to talk to product and service providers across the industry. The Badges highlighted Name and Company which might always be a reason to start talking to somebody.
8) The Presentations – The program sounded spot on, even if hiped topics like „Social Project Management“ and „Agile Project Management“ didnt appear and some of the topics seemed familiar, whether it was stakeholder management, Communication, Virtual Teams, PMOs and benefit realisation, including my own one which was almost the same presentation i have given 2007. The feedback i was hearing wasnt the greatest and what i was seeing supported the feedbacks shared amongst the participants. Presentation time to short, 25 minutes slots is hardly enough especially for the more unexperienced speakers. Some of them took 10 minutes to get from slide 1 to slide 2, at the end they realised that they ran out of time by given the signal from the facilitator and rushed through the last 7 slides in 2 minutes or just stoped in the middle of it. I would recommend to go for 45 minutes and alow 5 to 10 Q&A at the end. Another factor was how the program was structured. 3 presentations in a row. After a Q&A session attending a presentation in room A you had to rush to room B where they already got started and you missed the introduction.
9) The Speakers / Presenters – You had all sorts of speakers, the inspiring ones („Size matters“), the detail ones („As you might not be able to see this on this slide“), the audience focused ones („Please read the Case that i will hand out know“), the shy ones („Can everybody hear me“), and so on. You cant make a call and you cant get it right for these events. You call for speakers and you sometimes get what you want and sometimes you dont, thats the risk. As a delegate you cant mitigate it, because the Plan B doesnt work, to break out of a presentation and join another one, because of the 25 minutes slot its just to late after you realised that you should leave.
10) Organisation – Just one word, phantastic. Not a single issue not a single glitch. Susan Hobbs and Cecilia O’Grady plus Tye Hillam, did a great job to hold everything together. What you could do better, is to skill your reception staff a little better around common questions around accomodation and other areas outside the conference that delegates might ask. But from the whole planning via execution and closure of the conference it was great.
11) The Conference Workbook – There was none last year (at least i do not remember) and this years one has been great to read through and even check it out later after the conference. All the information was in there, around speakers and the abstracts of their presentations, the exhibitours and other important event information. Well done, as its very hard to put this together especially when the time is getting tight and last minute program changes have to be incorporated. The CD as part of the conference pack had all the papers and presentations on it, which is a great service that ou have to pay for extra with other conferences.
12) The Website and Booking / Registration – The website held all the information that was required for the conference and the registration process did its duty. How ever, the Internet capabilities and standards have moved on and it feels a little outdated. No Communication layour for participants, no interaction, prior, during and after the conference. The website didnt seemed to be very changing and the usability and look and feel needs improvement. Look at the USA and how conferences are supported by new webtechnologies (Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Social Networks and Groups, Video Streams, etc.) and let the delegates take even more benefits by being able to interact for closer with their peers than today.
14) What was missing – Beside all the stuff i mentioned earlier, free Wireless LAN access for all delegates. Just check how many delegates have a laptop in front of them at conferences in the USA (almost every second).
Bottom Line – What went well
– Organisation. Handclaps for eventcorp and its team
– Number of delegates
– Trade show and networking opportunity
– Topics picked
– Workbook and CD
Bottom Line – What to change / needs improvement
– more time for each presentation
– Quality Check on speakers and develop „Green“ list with the ones to attract next time
– Dinner Function according to feedback above
– Provide enough Food
I am looking forward to 2009 (Canberra) and 2010 (Brisbane). See you there.
Enjoy the ride and improve on the trivia you might have missed: