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How to judge and justify which conferences to attend

At a time of deep budget cuts, all spending needs to be justified and conference attendance cost is no exception. So we have come up with some simple tips to help you judge and justify which project management conferences you should attend.

  1. Why go? Sounds an obvious point to consider but it is amazing how often people don’t think this through. You should initiate a process which helps answer the question: how will the conference help me, the team and the organisation achieve objectives?
  2. What is the scope? Pin down conference organisers. Find out about the theme and the objectives; if they are not clear what the conference will accomplish, how can you determine what you will achieve from it? Check out the topics, the speakers and the general and special interest group workshops.
  3. What are the exact benefits? A good way to determine this is to ask specific questions. Here are a few to start you off. Will the conference develop your understanding of best practices? Will it equip you with an understanding of the latest project management tools? Will it illustrate lessons learned from ground-breaking projects?
  4. Who benefits and who loses out? Will it be you alone, will it be the team or the whole organisation that reaps the benefits of attendance? Consider any costs to other departments and the organisation as a whole. For instance, you should anticipate and manage colleagues’ concerns about dis-benefits such as production lost owing to staff attending a conference.
  5. What are the monetary costs? What with travel, hotel rooms, registration and the usual extras, conference costs can soon mount up. Estimate costs beforehand to assess them against likely benefits in order to find out whether it is worth the investment. Doing so will allow you to argue your case more effectively.
  6. Are there alternative ways of achieving the same ends? Deliberate on the best ways of getting information or building relationships with professionals. On the one hand, links with lead thinkers may be best built through on-going conversations via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, project management websites and blogs. On the other, rapport may sometimes be made stronger through personal meetings in neutral territory.
  7. Present a report. The best way to arrive at an answer and to sell it to the boss is to think through the whole process in a forensic way on a case-by-case basis and to prepare costed reports for conferences that you think are worth attending.

Useful Links

A Selection of Upcoming Conferences

  • itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2011, 7 – 8 November, Novotel, London West
  • BPUG Annual Members Conference, 23 - 24 November 2011, Doubletree By Hilton, Milton Keynes Stadium
  • Project Conference 2012 (Microsoft), 19 – 22 March, 2012, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  • Change Management 2012, Monday April 16 - Tuesday April 17 2012, Radisson Admiral Hotel - Toronto Harbour front, Toronto, Ontario
  • 12th Annual ICPMA Conference (International Construction Project Management Association), 31 May - 1 June 2012, Porto, Portugal

General Information

  • For a complete picture of PRINCE2 and what it can do, head to the Cabinet Office website. Please see note below about the change from the OGC to the Cabinet Office.
  • The PRINCE2 Downloads page has a wealth of information for every project manager.
  • ILX Group deliver PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner e-learning, classroom and blended learning to suit every situation.
  • The APMG provides a slew of useful information about PRINCE2 accredited training options if you’re not yet PRINCE2 certified.
  • The PRINCE2 e-learning experience may be the perfect option for those with an eye for cost-effective, rich and collaborative training that includes a blog, a forum and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • If your company wants to implement PRINCE2 training ILX Connect would be a great option as it will help them through the process.
  • ILX Consulting takes the concept of support to the next level. From maturity assessments and organisational health-checks, through ITIL, MSP and PRINCE2 implementation, to programme and project performance management, it has a proven record of delivering tangible improvements in capability, productivity and customer satisfaction to a wide range of businesses and organisations.
  • Note: The OGC website ceased to exist on 1st October 2011. Any new information can now be found on the Cabinet office website: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/. All information formerly on the OGC website will be available on the National Archives website:

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100503135839/http://www.ogc.gov.uk/index.asp. Queries or questions should be sent to website@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk.