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A Proud Reflection on HTEC’s First Project Management Conference

Project management is a crucial area of software engineering. Its role and significance only increase with the growing scope and complexity of the work.  

It is also a very dynamic theoretical area, with multiple methodologies and approaches competing for their spot in the workflows of organizations.  

The first edition of HTEC’s Project Management Conference, which took place on September 30, represented an attempt to capture the breadth of theoretical thought in the area and highlight some of the emerging methodologies and trends in project management, straight from its thought leaders.  

With the ambitious endeavor freshly and successfully behind us, we’d like to take you behind the scenes of the event and the seeds that made it happen.  

How it started 

The conference is the culmination of different converging activities of HTEC’s Project Management Office (PMO). Created with the goal of providing a growth platform for Project Managers of all seniority levels, the PMO represents a support system for their continuous education, training, and certifications. 

What started out as a set of PMO’s strategic decisions on how to conduct education going forward quickly grew into a vision of a large-scale conference. Marko Pavlović, the Head of Project Management Office, talks us through the process.  

“The initial idea was to have an in-house conference where our team members would share their areas of expertise. However, we realized that not only are we always available to our colleagues for guidance and consultations, but they also might find external speakers more interesting, as they see us every day. Instead, we decided to reach out externally to established experts and thought leaders and try to get them on board. In this, I must mention our Colleague Dragan Aničić, whose extensive experience and broad network were of immense value.” 

Once the event began to take shape, the PMO also decided to step outside of HTEC and open the event to the public. Aside from it being an opportunity to once again emphasize HTEC’s long-standing belief of “growing ourselves by growing others”, opening the event was also an effort to reach out to the broader professional community and contribute to an active discussion meant to help the entire community grow and expand its knowledge together. 

How’s it going 

The list of conference speakers reads like a “who’s who” of today’s project management: Mike Griffiths, Scott W. Ambler, Sanjiv Augustine, Nader K. Rad, and Frank Turley all held lectures, while they were joined for the closing panel discussion by Milan Šmigić and one of professions pioneers Lee R. Lambert. Together, they presented a wide variety of viewpoints and approaches present in today’s theory – something that Marko Pavlović emphasizes as one of the key goals of the conference. 

“At HTEC, we do not wish to be dogmatic about how we handle projects where we all must adhere to a single methodology. We wish to build up our collective expertise and provide our team members with all the training necessary to give them the breadth to be able to make informed decisions on the most optimal methodology for their specific projects.  In a way, we are providing the playground and making sure that they are familiar with the rules of different games, and then the project managers get to decide what game will be played.” – Marko Pavlović, Head of Project Management Office

The conference was met with great enthusiasm, not only within the HTEC team, but in the broader community as well. The provisional targets set for the number of registered attendees were quickly exceeded by the actual numbers, and those numbers remained strong throughout the event itself.  

Dragan Vukelić, HTEC’s Head of Project Management Excellence, served as the moderator for all the individual sessions at the conference. Once he had successfully completed his duty, we took the opportunity to gauge his impressions.

“First off, it has been a great honor to have an opportunity to host some of industry’s pioneers and leading voices and learn from their experience. It was also a great delight to engage with the audience. We have strived to make the event valuable to everyone involved – HTEC, the professional community, and the speakers themselves – and it was a pleasure to see it come to fruition. My work was made far easier, thanks to an engaged and knowledgeable audience that knew how to ask the right questions. I particularly enjoyed the closing panel with all the speakers which truly showcased the wealth of collective knowledge and experience we had the privilege to witness and learn from. There were countless grains of wisdom shared between them. “  – Dragan Vukelić, Head of Project Management Excellence

Where it’s headed 

The conference has also reflected the recent growth of HTEC, not just in our capacity to organize an event of this magnitude, but also in its subject matter. A large portion of the event was dedicated to the management of complex, large-scale projects.  

As HTEC grows, so does the number and the complexity of its projects. Where once we would commonly have one project manager on a project, we now have more and more scenarios with multiple projects for a single client running parallel. This requires a higher degree of management and, consequentially, a higher degree of training. In the words of Marko Pavlović, we are strategically looking into the future and identifying a growing need to build our capacity to manage large-scale projects, where we analyze our internal capabilities, identify our future champions and invest heavily in their training to enable them to assume greater responsibility. Marko is also quick to acknowledge the full support of the senior leadership and engineering management team, whose understanding of the importance of project methodology has enabled the PMO office to develop and support the development of the growing project management team. 

The conference is only one manifestation of the PMO’s efforts to increase HTEC’s collective Project Management expertise. While these efforts will continue independently, the success of the conference begs the question “what’s next?” While it is still too early (and you’ll allow us a brief moment to rest on our laurels), there is already talk of stepping out of virtual space and organizing a live physical event. 

Until that time comes around, we will gladly continue to examine the emerging trends in the world of project management and learn from them.