So, I said I wasn't going to do a recap but here I am. I thought I'd do a very brief wrap-up of my short week.

Previous Posts

Here are the posts from earlier in the week:

Getting Home

There were no misadventures getting home, thankfully. It was a long day of travel with a connection via Vancouver. I decided to splurge and pay to upgrade my seat on the Vancouver to Toronto leg and I'm glad I did. It was nice having lots of room & space to sit and work as well as enjoy a couple of beverages. It was also really nice getting to Toronto and not having to clear customs, as that was done in Vancouver.


Everything I'm about to say here I have already passed on in other ways to GPUG. I found this year's site more unwieldy than I have in the past. I believe it's the same software/system as in the past but now that there was the addition of the Power UG Summit (for me), I realized pretty quickly how changes are needed to better integrate things. Other users have already expressed this if they were CRM + an ERP members but not having seen it first-hand myself, I now know what it's like.

Suggestion 1 - Integrated "My Schedule"

I believe in the past, users enrolled in more than 1 UG weren't able to easily see the schedules of the other UGs. I could be mistaken on that, but that has changed completely and anyone is able to view any UG schedule (at least on the full site). That's awesome!

The downside is the My Schedule feature only shows the schedule from the UG I am primarily registered for, when it really needs to be showing any sessions I have marked as favourites to attend. Without that, I’m back to pen and paper figuring out where my sessions are, if the times align etc.

Suggestion 2 - Better scheduling filters & details

The second piece of feedback on scheduling is adding more filtering options to help narrow down my schedule. I'd like to select a date and 1 or more UGs and then see what sessions there are with those two combinations. I don't tend to filter by level, presentation type or track which are the 3 options there now, but others may also use those.

The other frustration is to view more details about a session, I need to click on it to open a window and then when I close the window the schedule page refreshes so I am back at the top again. I'd love to be able to expand a session to view details without it opening a new popup so I don't have to constantly re-scroll down the page.

Suggestion 3 - Allow Surveys to default from marked sessions

I always complete the surveys, except when they are so awkward to use, it becomes a waste of my time. That nearly happened at GP Tech this past August, the survey system was really clunky and as a result, very few people submitted feedback and I suspect most didn't submit on all sessions attended because of the setup. If conferences want users to provide feedback on what went well and what didn't, give them an easy way to do it.

There are options. My suggestion is to allow us as attendees to filter evaluations to what we marked as favourites. I know that I would ensure all of the sessions I attended were "marked" if that meant I got a nice short list of surveys to complete afterwards. Otherwise hunting and pecking by time-slot ("what did I go to on Monday at 11am?") becomes difficult and tedious.

This year I have yet to be able to open a survey to complete it at all - none. I've tried through the app and through the website. No luck multiple times so that is defeating the purpose. As a presenter, I *want* feedback good and bad to help me understand what I did well and what I need to improve upon. If surveys are hard for attendees, no one will bother and presenters won't get the feedback they need to improve.

Suggestion 4 - better download capabilities

This piece of feedback has nothing to do with the scheduling per se but the tie in is the favourited sessions. The slide downloads library system is super tedious to use. Finding sessions catalogued in a different way than they are on the schedule is hard, for one. I don't know about everyone else, but I don't pay attention to the track I'm attending, so cataloguing by track doesn't make sense to me.

Suggestions are:

  • Have a download link to the material in the schedule.
  • Allow multiple file downloads at once like in a SharePoint list or something
  • Allow sorting different ways other than by track
  • Allow a way to "shortlist" the items by tying it into the scheduling & favourites - ideally I want the slides for my favourite sessions. Let me focus on those instead of hunting for them.

Surveys in general

I'm a big proponent of giving feedback (obviously, as this post shows), and I am always advocating for users to provide feedback via the surveys. There are people out there who think it's a waste of time or that no one reads them and that's simply not true. Anyone who has presented knows the feedback is given to them along with the average ratings.

It's an important part of an attendee’s duty (in my opinion) to fill out surveys for the sessions they attended to give feedback even if it's only a rating. If they didn't like the session for some reason, please provide some feedback on why, and try to be constructive! For example: try to differentiate between the speaker and the room and the content. Don't slam the speaker if the room was too cold. Likewise, don't slam the speaker if the content isn't what was expected if the content was what the session described. But attendees *can* give that feedback in the survey, there are usually places to put comments around the session itself vs. the presenter.

Remember: real people read these surveys, real people take them to heart and real people have emotional responses if someone is overly cruel or unnecessarily harsh. Give feedback as if standing in front of the person telling them.

Slide Decks in general

Just like surveys are a duty of the attendee (in my opinion), as a presenter, I believe it should be mandatory that presenters submit their slide deck even in PDF format. I chased someone from GP Tech who finally uploaded their decks this month (2 months later). That's not a good experience. I've got most of my slide decks from Summit downloaded but there are still 2-3 I'm waiting for the presenters to upload. From past experience, some will never follow up, which is unfortunate and reflects poorly on the presenter.

Next year's GPUG Summit: Orlando!

In the Tuesday general session, it was announced that next year's User Group Summit will be in Orlando, Florida October 13 to 18th. So, for us Canadians, once again it's during our Thanksgiving week. It was nice for a change to have the timing NOT be during a holiday week so we could actually have a holiday. Oh well… maybe for 2020 they will factor that into our timing.