Category: PASS Chapters

PASS Update #48

[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at sqlandy.com]

It’s the end of November and this will probably be my last update on PASS for the year as things slow down for the holidays. This seems like a good time to update you on ongoing projects and to think about where I’ll be headed next year.

As I look back at 2010 it’s a mixed bag. I started the year with speaker bureau (SB) project, one that I was enthused about, a good project that would have a nice impact on both speakers and chapter leaders. Then I had to change course to manage the adoption of SQLSaturday by PASS and had to put SB on hold. That adoption took a while, and then I also ended owning the initial implementation of SQLRally which pushed SB back again. I kept Rushabh in the loop about the delays, only so much time in the day. In hindsight I wish I had gotten a little further in the beginning and tried to hand off to a volunteer team.

The SQLSaturday transition has been slow and not without some minor pain internally as we worked to divide the work up at HQ and learn how to make it work, but it’s been almost seamless for the event leaders and certainly so for the attendees. My work on this now consists of long term vision, making sure we’re finding the efficiencies where we can, budget, and driving lessons learned back to our event leaders. HQ owns the day to day stuff, from making sure email goes out to coaching first time events to sending out checks at the end of the event. A successful transition, and one that has had a tremendous positive impact on PASS.

SQLRally is of course still in flight, but we’ve been working on it hard since July. There were definitely times prior to the November launch that we were behind the curve, not having a web site ready was one, but the choice was to say nothing until ready, or start talking about it even though not fully prepared. We opted for the latter just to get the news out early enough in 2010 that people could try to get it worked into their 2011 budget requests. At this point we’ve opened registration, completed a community vote to pick the pre-con speakers, and the call for speakers is now open through Dec 15th. Our next real challenge is marketing. We have some ideas and it’ll be fun to see if a true grass roots effort works as well as we hope.

Going into next year I’ll have two projects, SQLSaturday and SQLRally. SQLSaturday I’ve covered already, SQLRally the goal is to have another one in the US in 2012, but also take the event international which brings a whole new set of questions and lessons. PASS is working hard to develop an international strategy and this is part of it, doing some mid size events and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Rushabh and had a long talk at the Summit about where to best use my time, and the result was that the SB project is being transferred to Allen and Jeremiah. Hard to let it go, but it needs to be done, and I’m not likely to find any more time in my weeks.

My other current commitment that will run some months into 2011 is the Election Review Committee (see the web site at http://erc.sqlpass.org). That effort is under way and as a group we’re still working to understand the various view points and problems before we start to work on recommendations. I hope in the end our recommendations will be simple, but getting to them is going to be a lot of work!

It’s easy to think (and for me to make it look like) that I’m just a project manager, and sometimes the doer as well. There is some of that, though I expect to spend less time doing in 2011 and put a lot more time into thinking. It can’t just be throwing ideas on the table and hoping someone grabs them, it’s got to be coming up with ideas and testing them through conversations, and figuring out which ones make sense to work on. There is no shortage of ideas for PASS, but we’re going to have to get better at figuring out which ones we should do. We can’t do them all, and that’s part of the thinking process – should we do it, how can we do it with less time, is there something else that would be of greater benefit?

It’s been a good two years. I’ve learned a lot and helped drive some change, and hoping that I can do more of both in the next two years. I plan to continue writing these update over the next two years, so look for #49 sometime in January!

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Nov. 25-Dec. 1)

(This is Round 4 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

No PASS SQLSaturdays happened in the last week, but that doesn't mean we don't have things to talk about. This week, we decided to go back to the future instead!

Today's round-up features posts on SQLSaturday #61, happening in Washington DC on Dec. 4, and SQLSaturday #66 which will take place in Colorado Springs on Feb. 12, 2011.

LAST WEEK BACK TO THE FUTURE IN SQLSATURDAY...

+ Joel Cochran is presenting at SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC

+ Thomas LaRock is presenting at SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC

+ Karen Lopez is presenting at SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC

+ Jeremiah Peschka is presenting at SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC

+ Chris Shaw is helping organize SQLSaturday #66, Colorado Springs

IN OTHER NEWS...

PASS Director and SQLSaturday co-founder Andy Warren reviews his year on the Board and assesses the SQLSaturday transition.

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

Upcoming Changes to 24 Hours of PASS

[cross-posted from Thomas LaRock's blog at thomaslarock.com]

Last week I told you that I would let you in on what changes we have in mind for the 24 Hours of PASS event. Well, today is your lucky day!

At the PASS 2010 Summit I was asked by our President, Rushabh Mehta, to focus on the 24 HoP event for the first part of 2011. This event has become so popular that it is now a dedicated portfolio for a PASS Director at large (namely, me!) Rushabh and I sat down to talk about where the event is heading and we both agreed on where it needs to go.

Last year I realized we needed to make changes but was not able to get them implemented in time. Before our next event I want to make certain we get a few things rolling. First, lets talk about the four areas that needs to be re-thought:

  • Platform – do we stay with LiveMeeting, or go with a different platform for the event? A new platform means we would have to incur some costs.
  • Format – do we go back to one day and 24 hours, or stay with the 2×12 format?
  • Speaker selection – this needs to be done as a community choice, no question, and I have some ideas.
  • Sponsors/ads – in addition to selling some title sponsors we need to think about selling slots to vendors (“this hour sponsored by Confio” sounds nice)

Rushabh and I also agreed that the event itself needs to be driven by the Community and less than from a BoD member. To that end I am putting together a committee of three trusted people to help ensure we can transition the 24 HoP into the hands of the Community. My selections for the committee were based upon their proximity to myself last week, combined with their current country of origin. So, for Europe I asked Charlie Hanania, for North America I asked Jorge Segarra, and for Australia I asked Rob Farley. All three have agreed to serve. It is my hope that once we get through the four items listed above we will be in good shape to announce the theme for the next 24 HoP event.

Just to be clear, the committee will be leading the event. My role will be to help steer them through the next year and two events and for future BoD members to provide oversight only. It is very important to me that this event be placed into the hands of some respected Community members, as that will ensure it continues to be a successful vehicle for spreading the good word of PASS in the future.

 

 

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Nov. 18-Nov. 24)

(This is Round 3 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps, back after its Summit hiatus. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

PASS SQLSaturdays covered this week include SQLSaturday #59, held in New York City... and that's it! Guess the Summit might've gotten in the way a bit.

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

+ Robert Pearl helped organize SQLSaturday #59 in NYC

+ Roman Rehak presented at SQLSaturday #59 in NYC

+ Aaron Stanley King presented at SQLSaturday #59 in NYC

+ Matt Velic attended and kept a LIVE BLOG of SQLSaturday #59 in NYC

COMING UP IN SQLSATURDAY...

There will be one more SQLSaturday to round off 2010: Washington DC sees off a fantastic year for the franchise on Dec. 4 with SQLSaturday #61.

IN OTHER NEWS...

PASS Director and SQLSaturday co-founder Andy Warren blogs about taking risks, one of which was SQLSaturday itself. Check it out.

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

 

Twice the fun in 2011! Register early to save on PASS SQLRally and Summit

PASS is offering not one but TWO great conferences in 2011! 

PASS SQLRally (press release) will be held in Orlando, Florida, May 11-13, and will feature two full days of sessions as well as a pre-conference day. PASS Summit will run from Oct. 10-14 and will again happen in Seattle, offering attendees 5 days of unmatched SQL Server content as well as premium direct on-site access to Microsoft developers and staff.

There is no better way to Connect with, Share with, and Learn from your fellow SQL Server professionals - PASS Summit is the premium SQL Server conference in the world, and SQLRally will extend that excellence to the East Coast of the US on a smaller scale. Booking early guarantees substantial savings (compare Summit 2011 prices below to the full registration prices for Summit 2010), so get this in the budget ASAP and join us in-person in 2011. We're excited to see all of you! 

  • PASS Summit 2011, Oct. 10-14, Seattle$1295 for the full bundle, including 3 days plus 2 Pre-Cons until Dec. 15; $995 (for 3 days) until Jan. 15 - www.PASSsummit.com
  • PASS SQLRally 2011, May 11-13, Orlando - $449 for the full bundle, including 2 days plus the Pre-Con until Dec. 31; $299 (for 2 days) until Apr.12 - www.SQLRally.com

To see what's happening at Summit 2010, check out the Summit Live site or follow #sqlpass on Twitter.

 

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Oct. 27-Nov. 3)

(This is Round 2 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

PASS SQLSaturdays covered this week include SQLSaturday #54, held in Salt Lake City, SQLSaturday #56, a BI-focused event held in Dallas, and SQLSaturday #58, held in Prior Lake, Minnesota... on a Friday.

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

+ Pat Wright helped organize SQLSaturday #54 in Salt Lake City

+ Ryan Adams helped organize SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ David Stein also helped organize SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ John Sterrett presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Jason Strate helped organize SQLSaturday #58 in Minnesota

+ Dan English also helped organize SQLSaturday #58 in Minnesota

COMING UP IN SQLSATURDAY...

There will be two more SQLSaturdays to round off the year after PASS Summit ends. New York City hosts SQLSaturday #59 on Nov. 20, and the nation's capital sees off a fantastic year for the franchise on Dec. 4 with SQLSaturday #61.

IN OTHER NEWS...

For those going to PASS Summit (Nov. 8-12), SQLSaturday is coming along! Tuesday (Nov. 9) has officially been dubbed "Wear Your SQLSaturday Shirt Day", so if you have shirts, bring them with you. This follows PASS Director and SQLSaturday co-founder Andy Warren's scheduled SQLSaturday Round Table on Monday (Nov. 8); here's his newest post with an updated itinerary. Monday, Tuesday, Friday... looks like every day's a SQLSaturday!

 

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

 

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Oct. 20-27)

You know all about PASS SQLSaturdays already, I'm sure. If you don't, you may want to visit the SQLSaturday website for more information.

If you do, you'll be happy to note that (starting today, Wednesday, with this humble post) we'll be doing a weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?

The posts are all SQLSaturday recaps written in the last week. If you wrote (or are planning to write) a SQLSaturday recap on your blog and you don't see it posted on PASS Blog, let us know and we'll make sure to look out for your efforts.

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

+ Jen McCown presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Tim Mitchell also presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Jack Corbett helped organize SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando

+ Jorge Segarra presented at SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando

+ Jason Brimhall attended SQLSaturday #54 in Salt Lake City

IN OTHER NEWS... 

You might also be interested in the thoughts and musings of Andy Warren, SQLSaturday co-founder and PASS Director. Andy's currently pondering new SQLSaturday sponsorship models as well as fresh ways to advertise events locally.

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

 

 

PASS Update #44 (Budget)

(cross-posted from http://www.sqlandy.com/archive/pass-update-44-budget/)

I had a question recently about how budgets work at PASS, and I think that’s something worth sharing, so I’m going to write an overview of that process today.  Note that I’m not the Finance guy, so the “official” word gets published elsewhere, and for that reason I’m not quoting numbers, just talking about process from my perspective as a participant in that process.

First, we start with funding, how do we raise money to pay the bills? A big, big chunk of our revenue comes from the annual PASS Summit, and you can think of this as not just a community event but an “annual fund raiser”. Some of that is from paid attendees and some from sponsors. We also generate some funds from selling Summit DVD’s as well as sponsorships for things like 24 Hours of PASS. PASS does not take any portion of sponsorship funds from SQLSaturday events or Chapter meetings. [Note: That isn’t to suggest that we might, just to explain that we don’t.]

Also, we should have the budget for 2011 published shortly and I’ll post a note when you can review the full document.

Early each year we start estimating (aka guessing) what our revenue will be for the next year. So in Jan/Feb and up through May we’re looking at how much money we will have for the fiscal year that begins July first, with the added challenge that we won’t know how we did until mid to late December after we’ve finalized all the items related to the Summit. If we guess too low we hurt the organization by spending less in often critical areas, and if we guess too high, then that leads to painful discussions about what areas to cut. This is something that most businesses go through and certainly isn’t unique to PASS.

Then we switch to spending. It starts with the President assigning ‘portfolios’ to Board members, which you can think of a being about the same as a large department in most companies. Directors then submit a budget request to the VP of Finance outlining how much and the major areas where it will be spent. At this point it’s a wish list, but scoped based on anticipated changes up or down in revenue as well as the previous year budget. The VP of Finance (currently Bill Graziano) and our accountant then combine all that into a monster spreadsheet for the first round of review.

Next we typically look at that first cut and start talking about where we can make adjustments. Most requests are reasonable to start with, but sometimes there just isn’t enough to do everything, so we each review our list and find places to reduce our request. This has been for one of the best experiences on the Board for me, everyone working together and jointly trying to find ways to get to a budget that will let us accomplish our most important goals.

Then, finally, we vote to approve the budget. At that point we’re able to authorize spend against that budget as long as it generally fits within the plan. If it’s a minor change we’ll send a note to Bill asking for his ok. An example was the project to populate the SQLSaturday wiki. I requested to re-align some of the funds allocated for the project and as it was inline with the goals of the portfolio it was approved. A deeper change might be sent out to the Board for discussion. Once the budget is approved, getting ‘more money’ requires a budget exception, which in turn requires Board discussion and vote. That process is, by design, painful. It takes time to have the discussion, we have to find that ‘more money’, and in general we don’t like mid course changes. They do happen though, and perhaps once a year we’ll have one.

So, where does the money go? We maintain an office and staff, to do things like plan and handle Summit logistics, do SQLSaturday coaching, maintain an auditable set of financial records, and a whole lot more. A lot of it goes to costs at the Summit. I won’t go into numbers here, but the costs are significant. To give you a taste of the costs, at the upcoming SQLRally it costs $12,000 per day for the space, and anything we spend on food and beverage reduces that cost, hopefully to zero. We have to use the hotel for food and beverage, and a boxed lunch costs, wait for it, $35 per box! Our team does a lot to control, reduce, and negotiate these costs, but if you need a big venue, you’re largely stuck playing their game. We devote some money to all the other stuff; SQLSaturday sponsorships, IT projects, etc, etc, etc.

Board members are not paid. When we travel on behalf of PASS (usually just 3-4 meetings a year) we get per diem and reimbursed for airfare, PASS pays for the hotel directly. We do get “free” admission to the Summit. Individual Board members don’t have any personal discretionary spending authority or budget, if we buy drinks or appetizers or coffee when we sit to talk informally with members it’s all out of pocket.

Each year we grant free admission (a “comp”) to the Summit to our speakers and a small number of volunteers. Comps are built into the budget because they have a real cost. It’s not “free” to just let someone extra attend – they get a bag, require registration services, eat meals, drink water, and in general cost real money. It’s somewhat less than the cost of a full registration, but it is substantial. We’d love to do more comps, but ultimately it comes back to the budget. Faced with sponsoring a couple more events or buying SWAG or any of the other places where spending would help, we try to do the things that help most members.

All in all, it’s the standard process that any business goes through, making estimates and judgments and tradeoffs to try to do the most good. Hope that helps some. When Bill publishes the budget I encourage you to read it carefully, though I’ll tell you it’s not exciting reading! He’ll also be publishing an annual statement about our finances and you should read that as well. I think the thing I’d tell you is to look at it portfolio by portfolio and if you have suggestions, send them in.

PASS Elections 2010: Winners Announced

The ballots are in, the votes are counted, and the results have been confirmed. While PASS was lucky to have 9 fantastic nominees for this year's elections race, congratulations are in order for this year's three winning candidates.

Andy Warren, President of Fourdeuce Inc., and Douglas McDowell, CEO (North America) of Solid Quality Mentors, were re-elected to the Board. They will be joined for the 2011/2012 Board of Directors term by Allen Kinsel, last year's joint PASSion Award Winner.

This year there were 1084 ballots cast, a 188% improvement on the 576 ballots cast in the 2009 elections. 2796 unique votes were counted. 

Detailed results:

Candidate Votes
Andy Warren 789
Douglas McDowell 604
Allen Kinsel 511
Geoff Hiten 464
Mark Ginnebaugh 428

 

 

 

 

 

 

For biographies of all the candidates in the 2010 elections race, please visit our Elections website

Hannes Bezuidenhout
PASS HQ - Governance
 

Q2 Chapter Survey Shows Strong Community "Reach"

Early in 2010 Blythe Morrow and I set out to get a better understanding of the makeup and needs of the PASS community as represented by our Chapters.  To connect better with Chapters we initiated quarterly surveys.  For the initial Q1 survey 49% of Chapters responded and I published the results a March blog: http://www.sqlpass.org/Community/PASSBlog/entryid/91/Survey-Results-Show-Top-Chapter-Needs.aspx .  The survey participation and feedback was great; at that point I set goals for future surveys: 60% Chapter participation per survey and 80% participation from Chapters overall across all 2010 surveys.

In July Nancy Nasso and I closed-out the Q2 Chapter Survey, and I am finally getting around to summarizing the results for you.  Of PASS’s 207 Chapters, 127 Chapter Leaders (61%) responded to the Q2 Survey.  We beat my 60% participation goal – these results are a very good representation of our current Chapters.  A personal “thank you” to all the leaders that participated.

Here’s what Chapter Leaders told us about their Chapters:

·         76% of Chapters that responded have a membership of 500 or less

·         81% of Chapters that responded have regular attendance of between 10-50

·         33% of Chapters that responded have 6-10 meetings per year, 44% have 11-16, and 20% have fewer than 6

To better understand the technical focus/interests of PASS members we asked Chapters the percentage of coverage (at meetings) they provide to general topic areas, a combined metric I call “topic mix.”

·         27% Application Development

·         25% Business Intelligence

·         38% Database Administration

·         10% Professional Development or other topics

There are always open issues surrounding our premium annual benefit to our Chapters: one complimentary registration to either the North American Summit or the European Conference each fiscal year (July-June).  For simplicity I will just call this benefit a “Summit comp.”  There is always some misunderstanding that this is not an easy or free benefit for PASS to offer, the actual cost for a Summit comp is high since all the event facilities and food and beverage are all charged per-attendee plus incremental consumption – it adds up quick and requires a lot of allocated budget.  The “issues” come in because PASS is not in the business of applying strict policies to our Chapters, so every year Chapters that are doing a TON for PASS and Chapters that are doing NOTHING for PASS are equally awarded a Summit comp.  Having provided that context, we included this question on the survey: “PASS offers each Chapter [a Chapter comp]. We are reviewing the requirements Chapters must meet to qualify for a registration and want your candid input regarding what those requirements should be. As a dedicated volunteer, what do you think? 

Honestly (and as one might expect) we got a lot of quick answers; perhaps I did not choose the wording well or respondents did not consider the depth of the question.  Some thought we were not doing enough while others thought we needed to be much stricter, the most common response was that the status quo was okay.  (If you are intrigued and would have preferred that I classify, categorize and objectify all the rambling free text responses, just send an email to douglas.mcdowell@sqlpass.org  and I can send you the detailed almost-raw-but-still-anonymous responses.)

The Regional Mentor (RM) program is critical to Chapter success moving forward and this is a focus area for the second half of 2010, so we wanted to know about RM interaction and asked about that:

·         50% of Chapters that responded have been contacted by their Regional Mentor this year

·         51% of Chapters that responded knew the name of their Regional Mentor

We also asked for any recent Chapter news as well as feedback on the new Chapter Leader Only Pages (CLO Pages), internal sub-site on sqlpass.org used to post resources and communicate with Chapter Leaders.  Adoption of the CLO Pages is still cranking up so responses were spotty but overall positive.

Before I wrap up, I want to unscientifically model something for you… just to give you a ballpark feel of the current “reach” of PASS Chapters, their impact on the community.  “Reach” is calculated by multiplying the number of attendees by the number of educational hours.  To use our survey data we can get a ballpark feel for our “reach” by multiplying the average number of attendees by number of meetings in the past 12 months by the number of educational hours. 

I prepped the Q2 survey responses the best I could by making all the ranges discrete for Average Attendance and Meetings in Last 12 Months; and I assumed each meeting delivered one (1) education hour.  That calculation yielded a “reach” of 41,656 educational hours in the last 12 months for the 61% of Chapters that responded; a simple extrapolation to 100% would yield a “reach” of 68,289 educational hours!  Using the topic mix hours reported by each Chapter (I used category averages for Chapters that didn’t provide data) that would break out to:

·         Application Development
10,785 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 17,681 hours)       

·         Business Intelligence
11,090 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 18,180 hours)

·         Database Administration
16,138 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 26,455 hours)

·         Professional Development or other topics 
3,643 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 5,972 hours)

·         Total “Reach” - again 
41,656 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 68,289 hours)

Wow, wasn’t that fun?!

Again, I want to thank all the Chapter Leaders who took the time to respond to the Q2 survey, please be on the lookout for the Q3 survey.  I trust the Q2 survey feedback has been a helpful and interesting look at our Chapters; with each survey we hope to better understand the needs of our Chapters, Chapter Leaders, and members.  Please send me your feedback on these surveys—what items should we be asking about next?

— Douglas

Douglas McDowell
PASS Director of Chapters