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Are You Sure You’re In the Right Place?

Tuesday morning, coffee in hand, two CHIEF project managers made the trek from DC up to Baltimore, MD on the MARC Train to attend our first ever DrupalCon. As we both work closely with Drupal web projects, we were excited to see what we could learn and bring back to the teams on processes and projects, in addition to learning more of the ‘technical aspects’ so we could contribute more knowledgeably to team discussions.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect. Would we be sitting in sessions staring blankly at the presentation screen while they talk about reverting a feature? Would we stick out when the presenter asked everyone to raise their hand who’d ever had this issue? We were scared we’d be the 5%-ers fidgeting in our seats hoping no one noticed our hands not raised as they stared at us. Worse yet, would they sense that we haven’t logged into GitHub in over a year….

Three days later, we’re already planning our DrupalCon 2018 trip!

As first timers, below are some of our main takeaways of what to keep in mind if next year is your first DrupalCon, as well as high-level trends we saw this year.

Why is everyone saying BOFs?

We kept hearing the word BOF thrown around, but it wasn’t until day two that someone explained to us what these things were. BOFs are ‘Birds of a Feather’ which  roughly means ‘small groups of like minded people discussing a chosen topic and discuss solutions to problems’. If there’s something you want to talk about, most likely, you’re not alone. These small groups were a great way to have open discussions with other individuals who may have different experiences and suggestions for you to think about. Go to as many as you can and be an active contributor!

Make agile work for you

Going into BOFs with other project managers and Scrum Masters about agile, we thought we were going to be the only people in the room not performing every Scrum ceremony. It turns out that most project teams take what they like from the agile methodology and make it work for them.

A theme quickly emerged as we attended session after session hearing talks about agencies transitioning from a waterfall shop to being an agile shop and the struggles they faced along the way. Almost every project management session attended focused on removing bottlenecks that could be associated with Scrum.  A key takeaway was that it is okay to tweak an agile framework to make it work for your team, client or project. Something we actively do here at CHIEF!

What’s Trending?

CHIEF project managers are not required to have all of the technical knowledge when it comes to building websites, but it’s helpful to know some of the industry trends to identify business opportunities, and save time and money on your projects where possible. A hot topic was how to integrate Amazon’s Alexa apps into Drupal 8. The “Smart Home” device seems to be in full swing, and thanks to the Internet of Things revolution, clients will likely start requesting Alexa apps. Our wheels are already spinning on how we can stay ahead of this trend in the year ahead!

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In addition to all the really great learnings, the event itself provides ample opportunity to eat, drink and connect with industry peers. If you’re thinking DrupalCon may be ‘too technical’ for you, think again, and start planning your trip to Nashville for next year!