Web Magazine for Information Professionals


John MacColl on the delights of sharing the blandest of Midland hotels with a group of eLib project managers for a couple of days.

Not a PC in sight. Not a torn fly-poster left over from the end of last session's revelries anywhere. Instead, seven storeys of the blandest of Midlands hotels, on a smeary wet couple of September days towards the end of the summer vacation.

This is a course for eLib Project Managers new to the business of balancing the three key Project Management variables (Time, Quality and Cost). Delegates have had their hotel bills generously paid by FIGIT.

Suites abound. There is the Dinkworth Suite and the Lapwing Suite, the Hogshead and the Ashford, the Meltdown and the Boredom. Each has a stickle-brick noticeboard outside. "JAGUAR APPRENTICE'S TRAINING". "ELIB PROJECT MANAGER'S".

We're in the Dinkworth, sitting round three sides of a rectangle of tables. The course presenter takes us through the material at a snappy pace. It transpires that the question we all want to have answered is how to manage a Project whose participants are a consortium of geographically dispersed institutions? Our Project teams are reliant upon e-mail and team meetings at mutually inconvenient sites.

The Presenter is keen on breaks. We break for coffees and mini-doughnuts; for lunch; for tea. We break into syndicate groups to discuss our strategies and confess to each other our failures to date.

Rain falls at three different speeds. It dribbles down the windows, plops from the grey ledges above, and fizzes darkly against the trees across the road from the car park. Lunch on the second day is largely a re-heat job from last night, as though a ploy to confirm our jadedness.

Course over and Presenter thanked, I collapse with relief into an airport-bound taxi with two fellow (now fully fledged) Project Managers. The rain has stopped, and the sun spreads some new light around. We pass a sign which says "Welcome to Solihull". I grin, inexplicably.