GPUG Summit 2017 - Day 1

The official first day of GPUG Summit 2017 was Wednesday, October 11th. Yesterday was the day I arrived and that blog post can be found here.

It was a full day that wiped me out, and I only managed to stay awake until 8:30 pm, but you’ll read more about that below!

GPUG Opening Session

The first session of the day was the general session for all GPUG attendees. This year, I was actually involved in the session, for the first time. It was the first time that I’m aware of where others were part of the opening, that weren’t Microsoft or DCI folks. Bob McAdam, GPUG General Manager,┬álovingly referred to us as “the additionals” (Steve Endow, Barbara Gavron, Shawn Dorward, Rod O’Connor and myself).

All jokes aside, it was quite neat to be a part of this and I’m thankful for the opportunity!

Last night, it took me forever to fall asleep as my brain kept working on my part of the opening and I woke up again around 4 am with it racing through my brain. Ugh!

After a couple bites of breakfast (I was late to go there!), I raced off to the room for the prep. We needed to be there 45 minutes before the session to get mike’d up. Rod & I did a final walk-through of our part and then we were hanging out backstage with everyone else involved in the presentation.

What was strange was being behind the scenes for the entire 90+ minute presentation and not being able to “see” any of it from the viewpoint of a normal attendee. I spent most of the time either pacing back and forth nervously (LOL) or hanging out here, behind the techs who were pulling the strings on what displays where. They had the best audio and I could see what was on screen as well.

Backstage with the tech guys

Here’s the fuel that runs the techs! :)

Coffee fuels the tech guys

The crowd of presenters milling about, practising their parts, and trying to find the cooler spots to be (it was very hot backstage!).

Presenters backstage

Someone got a shot of me on-stage with Rod as well:

Rod and Jen onstage

Cheque vs. Check, the joke not everyone thinks is funny!

The part of our bit, since both of us were Canadians, was poking fun at the spelling difference between Americans and (really) the rest of the English-speaking world. One of the new GP 2018 features is renaming all of the windows to “Payment” from Check/Cheque.

Pam Misialek gave us a hard time and kept telling us it wasn’t funny, the audience might not get it. The best part is when we showed this slide, the gradual increase in chuckles and laughter from the audience was noticeable. I’m sure the non-Americans in the audience were the first to laugh, and once everyone started to get the joke, and read the fake poll on the slide, more laughter and reaction. It was pretty cool. I could see Pam backstage just shaking her head, surprised we pulled it off. :)

Opening Session Cheque vs. Check slide

Our part was a total of 5 minutes and we ended up being shorter than that. Honestly, we both left the stage and thought it was maybe a 2-minute experience, it went so fast!

It was fun, but I was glad it was over… so stressful!

The rest of my morning

After the opening session, I went to a session Frank Heslin presented (a tour of SQL Server Management Studio) and half-listened to that while writing my “pre-conference day” blog. I wanted to get a sense of Frank’s presentation style since we were going to be presenting together in Microsoft Excel on day 2.

Frank and I met briefly after his session and talked through where we were with our slide deck since we hadn’t yet consolidated our slides together. After that, I went back to my room and finished my blog post for yesterday in the quietness of my own room.

I lost track of time and left myself 30 minutes to get to the lunch hall, eat and get to my room to present. Oops. Another minimal meal but oddly, I wasn’t super hungry anyway. A very small lunch and then I was off to my room.

Introduction to Fixed Assets

I was *shocked* to find my room was nearly 100% packed already, it was unbelievable. I certainly didn’t expect it! My takeaway is we could definitely use more Fixed Assets content in the future. Here are the pics of the attendees in my room but there were probably 10-15 more people that came in after I took this picture! The room I was in was set up for 115 capacity so I imagine I had perhaps 110-120 total between the odd empty seat + standing people at the back who didn’t get a chair or chose not to sit. Wow!

Fixed Assets group shot 1Fixed Assets group shot 2

Unfortunately, I chose to pre-record some of my demos and for some reason, I had a lot of technical issues. I’d try to pause or resume the video, and it would jump to the next slide and start the next video. It was very frustrating and I’m sure it was for the attendees as well.

I ended up losing about 10 minutes or more of my time and had to rush through the end of the session where there was the “meat” of the tips and tricks on configuration. That was a bummer. I hope the attendees can glean enough information from the slides that it will make sense afterwards. What it also taught me was I had too much content for the time allowed if there was going to be many questions, and there were a ton of questions!

After the session, I had 8 to 10 people lining up with questions for me and we ended up moving out of the room to a quiet corner, and I spent another hour outside there answering questions from the group. It was incredible! There is definitely lots of users wanting Fixed Assets module information!

GPUG Medic Station

Fortunately, I didn’t have a session immediately after my Fixed Assets session but once that hour answering questions was done, I was supposed to spend an hour at the GPUG Medic station. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s a spot where MVPs, Microsoft or other GP volunteers will hang out and users can come up with their specific GP questions to get answered. Free consulting basically… it’s a great idea and a lot of users get good help with their own stuff while they are onsite at the conference.

This particular time slot, I was only going to be able to hang out for 30 minutes. The good news was there were some people already there helping others, and since I was a little brain-dead from my own session, vacating my “duty” worked out this time. I went to the speaker room and got a beverage and chocolate bar (nutrition!) and came back to help with some questions that the medics couldn’t answer earlier before heading off to a meeting I had been invited to. I was scheduled for more time here later in the week so I will get there eventually!

SMB Community discussion meeting

I was invited to a session with other partners working in the SMB space, to meet with Dynamics Communities folks to discuss what they can do to help GPUG partners. It was an interesting session that turned into a little more of venting about frustrations with various things in the GP community and Microsoft. I won’t get into details because, as David Gersten pointed out, sometimes by publicly sharing our frustrations, we’re not helping our own cause and our competitors are lapping it up in their own marketing efforts. Point well taken.

Expo Reception Hours

Again this evening, there were expo hours and more opportunities to use your free drink tickets if you hadn’t already “spent” yours. I took advantage of a couple of free cold Coronas and wandered the expo to talk to a couple of specific vendors that my clients use or would be interested in.

I spent some time with Zubin Gidwani of Dynamic Budgets, to learn more about his budgeting ISV solution for Dynamics GP. I’ve always heard a ton of praise about his solution from people in the community and have a client who’s interested in a better budgeting process at some point in the future! That was time well spent to get a sense of the functionality and the rough pricing.

After all of the wandering around the Expo, I sat down briefly in some comfy chairs in the Dynamics Communities area, only to find the guy sitting beside me, an American, went to school at UWO in London, Ontario (down the road from me), and the two people across from me live in Fergus and Waterloo respectively, also not far from where I live. Small world! One was a CRM ISV and the other two are NAV customers.

I had wandered around for nearly a couple of hours before realizing I didn’t eat yet but wanted to go to my room to drop stuff off. I was still lugging my laptop around!

Early to bed!

When I got back to my room, although I was hungry, I didn’t feel starving; I should have, as I figured I had only consumed about 1500 calories on the day so far, but I was super tired. I called home to say hi and catch up for a bit with my better half and then fell asleep by probably 8:30 pm! I thought it might end up just being a nap, but I was gone for the night.

The one regret was I missed the Women in Dynamics meet up, and it sounded like they all had a good time together. Sorry I missed that!

With that, day 1 was done (for me), on to day 2!

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