Posts tagged TPS

PASS Program Update #3

Its been a while since I wrote an update about whats been happening in the PASS Program Committee.  I just havent had time to write about it with all of the work thats going on in addition to my regular day job.  Hopefully Ill have time now to do a better job at this!

The annual content survey was sent out and the results are in, I’d like to go on record now and say, Im not a BI user/admin/developer.  We took the BI questions from last year’s survey (which were obviously from 2008).  Unfortunately, while going through them and updating the questions I didnt reach out to a BI person and get a gut check for the BI questions.  So we wound up with some out of date info in that section.  I swear we like BI @ PASS, I just goofed, there’s not some secret conspiracy, and YES to the 1 of you who asked, I do read all of the comments .  The good news, for those that asked, the survey results will be released as soon as we can get them collated and readable (any day now)  **UPDATE** The survey responses are here there are definitely some very interesting tidbits to be mined from this.

We are making progress in working on several projects, from redoing the speaker resources, to developing a new system to house the speaker evaluation data.  As with all things volunteer driven, these tasks are taking time but thats not unexpected.It has to be better than this

The biggest project Ive been spending my time on is the call for speakers.  The call for speakers (and resulting abstract review site) is always a huge undertaking.  This year it seems to be even more magnified since we’re undertaking a new vendor (the same 1 that does tech-ed).  There have been quite a few bumps in the road along the way (I wont bore you to tears with all the details) A steady diet of 1-2 conference calls a week and about 50-100 emails a week and we’re closing in on a useable product in the call for speakers site.  The abstract review site, well that will be the subject of a whole other blog post in the future!  Ill just say that right now Im hoping to find some spare pixie dust or at least a few extra rolls of duct tape and bailing wire prior to the close of the call for abstracts

There have been many discussions about changing some of the SOP in the program committee, I have blogged about some of those previously so I wont rehash those here again.  Ill just add a few more ideas Ive been kicking around.

1 of the largest things that will effect the average attendee at the Summit is that we’re exploring ways to allow 2 new session types this year.

1) Community selection – The current thought is to allow the community to choose from (pre filtered) submitted abstracts to choose a session per track (or some similar method/amt)

2) Best of the Summit– The current thought is to take the top session(s) from the first 2 days of the summit and repeat them on day #3

Both of these ideas have execution issues to overcome but, I think they should be doable for the 2010 summit.

PASS Program Update #2

Here comes High Gear

Things have really started to move lately, We’ve officially started the Program Committee for 2010.Things are changing

We received 53 applications this year from members hoping to help out on the program committee.  That’s a huge number for us, When I joined in 2007 I think I was accepted by default because we didn’t have enough volunteers.  in 2008 there were approximately 20, last year we had 23.  Obviously we’re gaining some attention in the process of making the education program at the annual pass summit the best year after year.

Selecting the abstract review teams

With so many applicants, selecting the teams was quite a chore this year.  Its like interviewing for an open position at your company but instead of having 1 position, you have 17 open and instead of a hand-full of qualified applicants, you get a boatload.  That pretty much sums up the experience every year but, this year it was twice as bad as I remember it being in the past (possibly because of the doubling in applicants).  In the end, the quest to fill these teams took quite a bit of time, unfortunately just like selecting employees for your day job, there is really no best way to make the selections.  I should have probably just used a dartboard for the selections but, I didn’t want to disservice those that had taken the time to apply.  After quite a few iterations of making sure everyone was in the team that best leverages their skill sets, the new volunteers were notified.


The program Committee Portfolio changed hands in the PASS BOD this year, the new owner is Jeremiah Peschka.  Overall my experience with Jeremiah has been the same as my experience with the prior 2 Board members I worked with on Program, they’ve all been nothing but great.  We have already started batting around a couple of major changes to the Program Committee.

Thing 1

I tricked convinced Lori Edwardsto join the program committee as an adhoc project manager unfortunately we haven’t found a jazzy title that sticks yet, so she’s currently known as the task team leader, I hope we can properly anoint her later.  With 17 applicants added to the abstract review teams, we moved the other 36 people who applied into a task group that Lori has the joy task of managing.  Having a dedicated volunteer leader to manage the side projects that always come up should change the way we get things done and hopefully without me being the bottleneck, things will happen even faster.  This year the program committee has many things we want to accomplish, in addition to the regular things that we have to do to put on the summit every year.  I am hopeful this setup will prove to be one that works well, and we can refine and document the process so it can be reused in future years.

Thing 2

Abstract Committee Abstention.  In the past we didn’t have a policy about the abstract review volunteers submitting abstracts in the same track as they are reviewing abstracts in.  This was usually handled internally to each track and that member abstained from all discussion and ranking of their abstract.  This year however, we alerted every potential abstract reviewer that they wouldn’t be allowed to submit abstracts to their review track.  This rule may exclude some volunteers from reviewing abstracts in the future but, it just made sense from the transparency standpoint.

New Summit Management Software

panicThe new summit software selection is causing some of our critical timeline dates to need to be adjusted.  I’m not in a full panic defcon 5  mode yet but, If we don’t have a working environment in the new software by the end of next week, Ill be pulling the panic alarm.  Configuring a site to accept abstracts, and manage the speaker experience takes an unbelievable amount of time and right now we’re still waiting for the final paperwork & approvals.  Sliding the call for abstracts back doesn’t effect much of the planning for the summit except it compresses our timelines for getting the sessions selected and posted to the summitt website.  Currently we’re aiming for a mid April call for speakers opening, with the actual call running approximately 30 days.

Speaker Resources

Brad started working on this years update/changes to the speaker resource pages on the sqlpass website.  These sorts of changes are always interesting since they cross over a couple of portfolio’s.  I’m hoping that we can collapse the 2 pages currently posted into one page that is less confusing, or potentially 2 pages that work better together and don’t overlap as much as the existing pages.

Lots of new ideas coming, expect a new blog post tomorrow outlining one of the more controversial (potentially) Ideas I’d like to get some community feedback on.


TPS reports, love them or loathe them, they are a necessary thing for most of us working in corporate America.  I firmly reside in the loathe camp, Just ask my boss.

In this case though, I’ve decided to start putting out regular updates about what Ive been up to for PASS.  I hope the benefit is 2 fold, 1 to allow a greater transparency into what happens behind the scenes and more importantly for me to have a place to reference what we did and when!

Summit 2009 wrapup

We sent out quite a few different surveys during/after the 2009 summit, some of them are listed:

The members of the program committee

The speakers

The “suggestion box”at the PASS booth

The Session Evaluations

The purpose of each of these sets of questions were unique and helpful (some more than others but I digress)

I wrote about the 2009 session evaluations previously

The other surveys were tallied and the results reviewed to see what we could do better, and to see what we’re doing well as an organization.  I hope to write about some of these results later.

Summit Session Evals

I’ve written about this one before.  We had some technical difficulties with this one this year and I hope to iron it out.  One of the bigger mistakes we made this year was tossing the session attendance counts, its a long story exactly how it exactly happened but its already been remedied for 2010.  If this affected you, I am sincerely sorry.  PASS also uses this info to gauge many things so its a multisided loss.  We’ve got some great ideas cooking on more effective ways to give feedback to speakers from attendees, and as soon as we have something a bit more concrete I’ll write about that too.

Software selection/creation

We are currently trying to decide on a direction to go with our Summit software, Its no secret that there have been issues in our current vendors software/DVD’s, and we’re exploring a few options (build vs buy etc) at the moment.  Once we have a decision Ill give an update.  Suffice it to say that a decision as important as this one is not easily made and we’ve had at least 20 hours of phone conferences (demo’s included) and emails likely numbering past the hundreds about this.  We might be working through it a bit too much but, we have to get this right as the summit software is one of the largeer interfaces we have at PASS, between HQ-Speakers-attendees-volunteers-etc-etc.

Establishing the 2010 Program committee

We began working on updating the applications and handbooks that are required for the program committee, the application was tweaked a bit this year, and the handbook was freshened up a bit as well.  Volunteer applications are being accepted through Feb 22nd.  Im happy to say that so far we’ve had 35+ applications, while we wont need 35 people to review abstracts (the most popular job) Im 100% certain we can make use of all the volunteers, if we get a few people that are willing to make the next step and offer some help with leadership, Ive written a bit about this before

Speaker Bureau/Speaker terms

I set out a small group of volunteers with the task of redoing the speaker terms to allow for more “sharing of information” (opt out) between the Summit Speakers and the PASS Chapters.  Ive written about this before and Andy Warren has the lead on the actual implementation of this project, we were trying to enable him a bit and hopefully have succeeded.

Establish 2010 Summit Critical Dates

We have a pretty firm grasp of the steps it takes to put on a Summit but, every year we have to go over the steps and make adjustments.  We also need to adjust the dates for the current year in order to make the process work.  Now that the dates are mostly set, We have essentially kicked the rock down the hill.  Once that happens, the deadlines seem to pile up.

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