Exactly one week ago, Oct 22, 2015, Thursday AM, I was in a literal panic mode! The conference was about start in half an hour and the changes we made to the site to allow users to start logging into the conference site were not being reflected. I was being bombarded by emails from audience asking if the Virtual Doors were open, as announced!
Eventually, we identified the issue to be a caching issue caused by one of the plugins, and fixed it. But those 20 minutes have been the one of most stressful moments in my life.
Ever since the idea to hold a “virtual” conference for MS Project came up back in May 2015, to fill the gap of not having a Microsoft Project Conference this year, it has been a roller coaster ride. It took me over a month to just confirm that this idea was practical enough to get started on. Starting from trying to decide which platform should we use, how to request sponsorships, how to acquire speakers to actually building the site, everything was a learning experience. I had to talk to multiple people, sign up and test countless Web Conferencing Software, figure the Sponsorship Model, all as I was learning on the job.
Eventually what started as a small idea, turned into a premiere event! We successfully ran this conference from Oct 22 10AM to Oct 23 10 AM EST, a full 24 hours, without a single session being disrupted or having issues. I would say that’s quite an achievement for a first time effort.
Of course, as I look back, there are SEVERAL lessons learned, and thing I would have done differently if I had known better at that time. Obviously, the idea is to run this every year (if not more often), and we will keep improving things as we go, both from technology and also a user perspective.
I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of support we got from the community for this idea of a virtual conference. I hope everyone involved had a good experience, and will return back for the conference next year.
Thank you all!
P.S: All the sessions are now available on-demand, still free of charge. Check them out!