SQL Server

Getting things done on the PASS Board

Previously I’ve written about many things I’ve done while on the PASS Board.  It’s often easy to take credit as a member of the board for doing things with PASS.  The reality though is that there’s always more to it than just deciding to do something, digging in and personally accomplishing some goal.  PASS is lucky to have a paid staff that executes on many of our objectives. This staff collectively is often referred to simply as “HQ” and they are the primary source of continuity within the organization.

PASS HQ

PASS HQ consists of about 16 people who are permanent salaried staff and at times (summit) upwards of a dozen additional contractors.  The Community Evangelists (Karla Landrum and Niko Neugebauer) will be the most likely contact points for most community members however they are just the front lines. The other people within the HQ team are where much of the additional work happens that allows us to put on great events like the Summit.  These largely unsung heroes of the SQL community do the majority of the heavy lifting from day to day and in many ways should be recognized as critical members of our SQL Community even if most of them wouldn’t know a tempdb from a checkdb.

Relationships matter

Learning to work within the HQ structure is very important for Board members as HQ has such a huge impact on all things PASS that they can greatly contribute to helping make a board member’s priorities a reality or conversely they can contribute to that same board member’s priorities languishing.  I’m happy to say that in the years I’ve been volunteering with PASS, I have taken the time to build strong relationships across the organization that allow me to get things done effectively.  Building these relationships has not always been a cakewalk, in fact far from it, but adversity seems to have had a way of making the working relationship I have within PASS HQ better.  Knowing where to turn within HQ to get answers or to unstick a hung process has proven to be invaluable in my tenure as a volunteer with PASS and now even more so as a Board member.

Please consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference. Click here to read about why I’m running.

PASS – Campaigning is tough

In order to get elected to the PASS Board, Ive twice now been asked to do something that is easily one of the more challenging things I’ve needed to do professionally.

Self-Promotion

Im a typical DBA type who has never been a fan of self-promotion, Ill happily sit in a corner and give 100% to an effort without looking for any acknowledgement in return.  I believe in doing a good Job and letting the results speak for themselves.  This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m quiet or a reserved introvert, I’m actually the opposite.  I’d go so far as to say that my fellow Board members might agree that it wouldn’t be an understatement to say I can be quite outspoken and opinionated especially when its related to things I’m passionate about, unfortunately for campaigning purposes those are things only the 13 other Board members have seen regularly.

Campaigning to win on my terms

Since deciding to run for another term on the PASS Board I’ve had many conversations with pillars of our community about how I could win another term while not letting my disdain for self-promotion control my ability to get elected.  I want to maintain my position on the board so that I can continue serving the entire community.  To do that I’ve chosen to highlight my prior record and future plans for the organization without leveraging some of the other more self-promotional/direct contact aspects of typical election campaigns.  This was an incredibly difficult decision to make because I really want to win… but not at the expense of my own personality.  As a wise person once told me: “it’s better to be yourself and loose than pretend and loose hope”

My plan has been simple, keep doing what I’ve been doing.  (The question is: is it working?  I suppose I’ll find out Oct 15th)

  • Blogging – I’ve blogged about PASS since nearly the beginning of my blogging (post #2) So I’ve continued
  • Forums – I’ve been active in the Election forums (have a question, please post it!)
  • Twitter – I’m always open to chat about #sqlpass on twitter regardless of whether its elections season or not
  • Phone/Instant message – I’ve had a few phone/IM conversations about my platform.  Want to chat? Just ask.  I’m always available
  • References – I asked a few people who know of my work with PASS for letters of reference

* Andy Warren, Jeremiah Peschka and Tjay Belt  (pdf pg 5-7)

Continuing to Serve

I’ve spent many thousands of hours of my life serving the PASS organization and want the opportunity to spend a few hundred thousand more in the same role over the next two years.  However, if by chance the community wants to see someone else in my seat on the board I can live with that, there aren’t any bad choices.  I will still continue to focus on the SQL community; it will just be in a different way than I am able to currently.

If you appreciate and expect this level of candor from the PASS Board, Please consider voting for me.  I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

Quick PASS Chapters update

PASS Chapters Update

As PASS Director of Chapters, I had my first set of meetings a few weeks ago where every Chapter Leader worldwide was invited and thought I’d write a quick post about it.

Getting up to speed in a new PASS portfolio and having something good to talk about takes time so this meeting took a lot longer to materialize than I’d originally hoped.  The primary delay was it took quite a while to get enough good content that I felt comfortable inviting 300+ chapter leaders to give an extra an hour of their lives to PASS.  Now that the initial break in time is handled and I know we’re making solid progress towards improving PASS’s support of Chapters (I’ll have stuff to talk about that matters) We’ve agreed to schedule these update meetings quarterly.  This is in addition to the update meetings we’ve already been having bi-monthly with Regional mentors and the Bi-Monthly(ish) Chapter update emails/blog posts Ive already been doing.

Global Organizations = Follow the sun = Hard

Trying to find a time (or 2) that accomidates 300 different people is extremely challenging, In the past we’ve held Regional Mentor meetings at 9AM CST and 9PM CST in an effort to allow as many RM’s as possible to participate.  We’ve had varrying degrees of success and quite a few requests to have a time that better fits those in the EMEA region.  So we decided to move the initial time of the Chapter leader meeting to 6AM CST leaving the 9PM CST meeting in place.  This seemed to work out OK but, being ready to present at 6AM local time was tougher than I expected, combine that with a PASS site that wasnt working properly and the first meeting went less than spectacularly.  In the future we’ll probably move the morning meeting back to 9AM CST and offer a third meeting option in the middle of the day that better supports those in EMEA.  The meetings are recorded and posted online for all to chapter leaders so theres always that option as well.  Im open to other ideas about timings of these meetings so If your a RM or a Chapter leader and have an opinion feel free to contact me to share it.

Chapter Leader Resources

Karla (Blog|Twitter) has been working incredibly hard to update the Chapter Leaders resources page.  She has made many updates and changes to this Chapter leader only page, one of the largest changes mentioned is related to the new process that book publishers are asking PASS Chapters to use.  Im optimistic that the new process will help Chapters get a better selection of books in a shorter amount of time.  Karla also added a new Chapter logo  as a resource on this page.

Chapter Tools Project

A good portion of time was spent going over the changes in tools that have been rolled out for chapters.

The aim of this project is for PASS to provide effective tools to minimize the marketing work Chapter Leaders have to perform and increase reliability of records all while creating a one-stop shop of resources to efficiently promote and run a PASS Chapter.

To date, weve completed updates to the chapter newsletter emailer, created a chapter dashboard and created an events framework for chapters to use in displaying their meetings.  The events framework is the latest update, it is currently used on the chapters portal, and although its currently a v1 release it handles many things chapter leaders let us know they wanted like Auto archiving of meeting details, Auto populating Speaker info, timezone display differences, uploads and more.  There are several other hooks planned in the future for this events framework but this should provide a good starting infrastructure as we build more on to it.

Community Meetings at the Summit

Also covered were the community meetings at the summit.  If you’re a PASS community leader one or more of these is likely for you!

VIRTUAL CHAPTER LEADERS

Tuesday, November 6

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Led by Denise McInerney

SQLSATURDAY LEADERS

Tuesday, November 6

9:30 am – 12: 30 pm

Led by Kendal Van Dyke

REGIONAL MENTORS

Tuesday, November 6

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Led by Allen Kinsel

CHAPTER LEADERS

Tuesday, November 6

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Led by Allen Kinsel and Regional Mentors

Dream Job Alert! PASS Community Evangelist Needed!

Would you like to get paid to work directly with the SQL community?

Of course you would!  Well… Ok maybe not all of you would but Im hoping some of you would!!  If this sounds like a dream job for you, Ive got some very exciting news!  PASS is growing support for local communities again and we’re looking to hire a second community evangelist to work along side Karla Landrum (Blog|Twitter) and the PASS HQ team.

More details about the job specifics are available on the PASS site.

Hurry now, Dont delay, this offer only availble to the first 5 respondents,<insert late night infomercial schpeel here>, etc!

PASS Chapter Update

Today I’m hosting the Bi-monthly PASS Regional Mentor meetings and I thought this was a good time to publish an update and get back to blogging about PASS on a more consistent basis.  Its been an interesting last 6 months leading the PASS Global Chapters portfolio and I expect it to be an interesting next 6 months as well!

RM Travel

Previously I wrote about getting a budget exception to provide funds for RM’s to attend PASS events and hopefully learn some lessons about how we can best implement a program like this.  With the end of PASS’s Fiscal year on June 30 we ended the RM travel program.  I believe we learned some very good lessons and provided some very valuable support for some PASS events.

Some basic statistics

11 RM’s were able to participate and they attended

  • 9 Chapter meetings
  • 6 SQL Saturdays

Overall I wish we would have had better participation (this is about 33% of RM’s) but, given the timelines we had because of the nature of the budget exception as well as the parameters we put on the allocations per RM for this trial this was about what I expected we’d have.  We got some great feedback from the RM’s on these trips and I was especially appreciative of the feedback from RM’s that wasn’t the kindest and was brutally honest.

Chapter Tools Redesign

Ill admit to finding it mildly ironic that for as long as I’ve been a member of PASS we’ve had what I’ve often chalked up as “Data” problems.  When building the blueprint for reworking the Chapter Tools my main goal was to provide great tools to better enable chapters to grow local communities & host great events.  My secondary hopes were that in creating these tools that many of these data problems would be resolved by the ability to have one version of the truth.

In some ways over the last 3 months I’ve been disappointed with the amount of “visible” work that has been available to chapter leaders in the tools.  But, since I’ve been having at least twice weekly meetings with PASS IT from the beginning I am confident that things are going as fast as they should be.  I think its worth going through some of the challenges weve run into thus far if for no other reason than to remind myself what happened later!

We’ve hit a couple of detours that I didn’t account for in my expectations for the tools.  PASS had several different DNN portals at several different versions.  This is the basic explanation for why some chapter sites werent in single sign on and had other assorted issues where some chapters had functionality that others didnt.  This Included one particularly interesting issue where some chapters had different lists of “members” because some members were in the chapters portal sign on and others were additionally in the main PASS sign on but the chapter leader couldn’t contact (or see) both lists!  With the varrying DNN modules in use on over 150+ chapter portals PASS hosts, to get this consolidated and upgraded was no small feat.  Today all of the groundwork has been completed and we now have a single DNN Portal with a single DNN version in use across all of the chapter sites.

We also had an outbreak of data issues (remember where I mentioned this earlier!) What we found was we had quite a lot of outdated data about chapters, including which ones are active and what their actual leader contact info is.  This problem is a product of growth over the years and not having a system like the one we’re building to house all of the relevant data… This problem has been handled in some ways but, is still ongoing and PASSHQ is working on identifying the problems so we can fix them once and for all.

We also made a decision to build some webservices infrastructure now vs building it later in the project in order to have that infrastructure upfront instead of waiting till later to build it and retrofitting things at that point.

In addition to all of this we also had a couple of false starts with the outside web designer and the design of the public facing sqlpass.org changes that the chapter tools will be feeding in to.  I’m optimistic that these have been resolved as we’re currently seeing good progress from that perspective

All in all these problems havent been huge but, they have impacted how long I expected it to take us to start making changes that would be visible to not only the chapter leaders but the PASS community at large

Chapter tools Beta

If you’re a chapter leader, today the beta of the chapter tools changes can be seen if you log into the PASS website and click on the “Chapter Dashboard” menu under chapters.  The basic idea has been to replace all of the current CMM module features and enhance them as we move them over to a dashboard type interface.  Today there is basic chapter profile editing, Chapter mailing list uploads/updates. As well as a new chapter bulk emailer to send messages to the entire list of your chapter members.  If you have any comments or questions about these changes feel free to contact me.

In a (near) future post Ill outline a list of expected features that I’ve been compiling for this tools project.

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