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‘Organizing a Conference of This Size is Like Hosting 10 Weddings Without a Contractor’
Manage India speaks to Mr. Ramasubramaniam P, Project Director, and Mr. Sanjay Bhaskaran, Deputy Project Director, PMI India National Conference 2012 on the conference preparations
Chennai, an important cultural and educational center in South India, is this year’s host for the PMI India National Conference. How has your experience been in organizing the conference here this year?

Tamil Nadu is known for its rich monuments, which are important historical projects for this region. These monuments are a part of the state’s rich cultural legacy. The educational institutes in the region have produced some of the leading lights of the country, who have made tremendous contributions to the country’s progress in various areas. We’re proud that Chennai is hosting this year’s PMI India National Conference, ably supported by PMI Kerala Chapter.

Organizing a conference of this size is like hosting 10 weddings at a time without any contractor! As you know, the whole event is being planned, organized, and executed with volunteers. We are lucky to have a dedicated volunteer team that is working with the conference core committee. These volunteers are spending countless hours of their valuable time to ensure that they deliver a great experience to conference attendees. We are actively using project management best practices such as detailed work breakdown structures, communication plan, risk management plan, speaker breakdown structure, and detail dashboards. This approach has given us the confidence that we will be able to deliver a great conference.

This year’s theme, “Project Management for Sustainable Competitive Advantage”, ties in well with the socioeconomic challenges that projects face today. What are some of the broad thoughts you expect to hear during the three days of the conference?

Today, we face tough economic challenges. Project managers will be looking towards experts from different fields at the conference to understand how the current scenario will affect projects and what is the way forward. We have an excellent line-up of speakers, who are experts in their fields. These luminaries will share their knowledge with conference attendees on the following areas:

This year’s conference comes after three highly successful national conferences. How have you incorporated learnings from previous conferences this year?

Lessons learned sessions are important best practices that contribute to a project success. Five members of the conference core committee met the previous year’s organizers to understand the challenges they faced, how they handled them, and what creative value-adds they implemented. The team also consulted the PMO members of the Mumbai and Hyderabad conferences.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) refers to budgets, estimates, and actuals from previous projects as valuable Organization Process Assets (OPA). We have used OPA very effectively in our conference plans.

Delegate expectations are high. What should they look forward to?

Delegates can expect a great experience with valuable expert knowledge delivered through various formats.

The conference is being co-hosted by PMI Chennai and PMI Kerala chapters. How have the synergies of the two chapters helped in putting together a great event?

The two host chapters had already collaborated on an excellent conference on “PM in Cloud Computing” last year in Chennai. It gave the chapters a great opportunity to work together and build synergies for this year’s mega event.

Each chapter leadership brings with it a different set of unique strengths. From the first day of conference track planning, we have effectively used these strengths for a better outcome. Regular meetings and vibrant exchange of ideas have helped us to come up with detailed plans. While there are two host chapters, we are one team working together towards one objective.

How many volunteers are working with you and what has been your experience in garnering volunteer support?

It was not difficult to bring together a large number of people interested in volunteering for the conference. The real challenge was in selecting a set of people with true commitment, drive, and availability. We are very happy to have put together a great team. We have a passionate team of 43 volunteers working for the conference. We are confident that all the hard work will result in a great conference.

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