The second day started with a keynote address by Mark Cohon, CFL Commissioner. An interesting speech if you’re keen on football, with the participants wearing football jerseys and all! The presentation seemed to be enjoyed by most of the participants.
Next, was a talk on Cybersecurity - Understanding the Landscape and Managing Risk, given by Pascal Fortin from GoSecure Inc. Some scary statistics about cyber-attacks – very topical with the recent HeartBleed and Shellshock incidents. It is a very specialized field, but he makes a good point – the place to start with good security is in the software design phase.
The next two hours I attended sessions given by Brian Bost of KPMG where he is talked about costing and estimating projects, programs and services. Brian Bost’s claim to fame was writing the report on the F-35 and he talks a great deal on sense, most of it actually common sense. An example of what he says are the benefits of good estimates:
- Helps achieve “effectiveness” in use of funds
- Significant control over cost overruns
- Forms a key basis for budgets and resource allocation decisions
- Defense against budget cuts
- Supports long term program stability
- Supports making trade-off decisions
Just good sense and cost accounting 101, but forgotten so often. Another thing he talked about is the optimism bias which we are all guilty of – statistically, in government projects, the optimism bias is as much as 200%!
The last session I attend was on presenting financial information to non-financial people by Helen Wilkie. The most important thing to remember are these 5 principles:
- Understand the other person’s perspective and what they need to know
- Don’t cram in too much information
- Communicate an idea rather than a number
- Translate data into information
- Mind your demeanor
Overall this conference was worth attending and made me more aware of some of the challenges and reporting requirements facing Public Sector clients.
I had expected to meet up with some Altus Dynamics clients there, but didn’t encounter anyone from our client base. That surprised me a little, but on reflection perhaps it shouldn’t. The public sector is huge in Canada and there were only 400 participants at the conference. Hopefully next year I’ll see some clients there – hey don’t you guys also need some CPD points!!