I just had a great weekend at DrupalCamp Wrocław
I've spent the past weekend in Wrocław, Poland as a speaker at the second Polish DrupalCamp. It was a wonderful weekend and a fantastic camp at a very beautiful and welcoming location.
Camp organizers Grzegorz Bartman and Karol Bryksa contacted me last year and invited me to come talk and present one my previous sessions. The selection was done by voting and not completely surprising, it was the session on project estimation techniques and theory that Shannon Vettes and I usually co-present that won.
The session was followed by a long Q&A. Estimation and managing project scope and expectations is a huge issue for many and I appreciate the opportunity to talk to people about it. Based on the questions asked, it was clear to me that most IT projects in Poland are done on fixed bids. Few shops can actually practice agile methods even though they know it's better for all parties. Instead buyers, for fear of losing leverage over suppliers, insist on fixed bids based on loosely formulated requirements. Many questions concerned how to end this negative spiral that comes out of lack of trust and in the end leads to failed expectations.
My opinion is clear: fixed bids offer a false sense of safety for the buyer. Instead, web shops need to help the customer prioritize requirements and features based on how important they are to the project delivering on its business goals. This means you can't always just talk to the IT manager of the firm (this is often the role representing the buyer), he or she may not know the underlying reason for a specific requirement. Instead you need to get a direct line to those with the strategic vision and gameplan. This is the topic of another session of mine which I've presented in Vienna among other places. Unfortunately this isn't something we can do alone as Drupal shops since it takes a degree of maturity and experience on the buyer's end. What we can do as suppliers is to educate and help buyers make better and more informed decisions as well as help them see why this approach yields better results for them, at less cost and risk.
The conference took place Saturday-Sunday at the polytechnic university in Wrocław. The venue was a huge hall which offered good seating and was very suitable. There was also a smaller lecture hall for the technical track during day two. Surprisingly to me, much of the content was in English. I appreciated that as it helps bridge the local community with the global and opens up the event for people from abroad to attend. I hope this trend continues as the camp was one of the best I've attended and I hope more people from outside Poland will make it next year!
Apart from presenting my session, I also had a chance to see the city. Wrocław (pronounced "Vro-tz-wav") is a city with a long history, having been ruled by Austrians and Germans, which has had an impact on the architecture. Central parts of the city look more like Munich or Vienna, than you'd expect. The central square surrounding the city hall is a wonderful place to stroll around on warm spring days. The city features many parks and cathedrals so there's plenty to see.
So take note not to miss the next DrupalCamp Wrocław (or "DrupalCamp Poland", as there's no other camp in the country) and get to see one of the most beautiful cities in Europe at the same time!