A few weekends ago I was fortunate enough to attend my first Drupal Camp ever. What was even more fortunate for me was that it was located near where I grew up in Chattanooga, TN. I’ve been to several leadership/business conferences in my life, but this is the first one that I’ve been to where it felt like everyone was genuinely glad to be there, even on a rainy fall day. In the spirit of open source, it wouldn’t feel right to keep all of the helpful info I learned to myself, so I wanted to take a moment and share some of my key take-aways.
Bob Snodgrass from net2Community gave a great seminar on sales. He started his presentation on selling Drupal by stating "Don’t sell Drupal, sell results!" So many times we become entrenched in the technology that we use and sell, and that’s ok!, but we have to remember that clients are more interested in the results we can provide, instead of the medium we use to get there. A good example given was a donut in a donut box. People rarely care about what box it comes in, they just want the donut!
Bob also brought attention to how each team member contributes to "selling", whether they realize it or not. The interactions, work and relationships that we manage on a daily basis help clients decide if they will continue to work with us or recommend us to their work colleagues.
Becoming a PM Ninja
Justin Rhodes from Commerce Guys led a good discussion on increasing efficiencies as a Project Manager. One of the first things we discussed was Parkingson’sLaw: tasks will swell or shrink according to the amount of time given to them. If you use this law to your advantage, you can create small window deadlines to create efficiencies in your development process.
When it comes to planning and estimating phases for a project, Justin shared the success he has had doing this by using relativity to help the team give input. For example, rather than trying to nail down hours for each process step right way, you can tell everyone to estimate the size of the task by using shirt sizes (S, M, L, XL) to align everyone by using relative sizes. This can give the resource planner a clear visual of which parts of the project are going to take the longest. Of course, there are no complete replacements for old fashioned hourly estimates. The key to success on estimates is to check the team’s accuracy by comparing estimates against actual spend.
Contributing to Open Source
Our keynote speaker was Mike Anello from Drupal Easy. He gave a great talk on why we should be contributing back to the Drupal community. It wasn’t the typical, do it because it is the right thing to do, lecture. Mike made the case that not only does contributing back to the community grow your network and visibility, but it has a very real probability of increasing your bottom line. It is easy to say that we are going to contribute, but unless you deliberately set aside time, it probably isn’t going to happen. One way to make contributing a priority is to work it into your marketing budget. Switching your perspective on contributing from a way to get karma points to a powerful marketing tool, will change your priorities around where it fits into the company’s strategy.
The last take away I got from Mike’s talk was that even those of us who are nontechnical team members can contribute back to the Drupal community. Reaching out to module owners and asking how you can help, cleaning up ticket queues on modules, confirming bugs and assisting in documentation, are all ways to help move the ball forward (and I’m told they are greatly appreciated). Don’t forget that Drupal events don’t just happen by themselves. There is always a need for folks to help with the planning and coordination of meetups, camps and conventions.
Although I was unable to attend the pre and post party, I have no doubt that the enthusiasm of the group spilled into every conversation that was had. Who knows where I will be living next year (the benefits of working for a distributed company), but if I am able to, I’ll be returning to DrupalCamp Chattanooga!