Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Jim Spath

Short Haul Clue Train – Chaos Station

| [Friday] | [Saturday] | [Sunday] | [Monday] |

Sunday was a busy day, starting early in the morning (if you’re reading this blog series starting in the middle, these are my insights into planning the ASUG 2009 Annual Conference, colocated with SAP Sapphire in Orlando FL – May 2009).

Year Round Community breakouts


Part of the morning, after preambling, was tool use.  But before using the tools, we needed to establish common ground for content, leveraging the available technology.

And even before that, there’s the uncommon tongue of vendor-speak, with ‘jive’, ‘confluence’, ‘workspace’, and more. runs on Confluence, runs on Jive, runs on Jive, we’re using SharePoint at work, and I’ve worked with a couple others so they start to run together. Tricks in one don’t work in another. 

Memorable tricks of basic wiki edit I’ve learned:

  • Table headers
  • URL linking
  • Image 

I learned shortcuts by trial and error on the SAP SCN wiki editor, and now the ASUG wiki editor how to do the above.  There are similarities, but also differences in the implementation.  Table headers are difficult to see on the ASUG site; I’ve resorted to using plain text markup and then adding the double pipe symbols manually.  In Microsoft SharePoint, I have similar challenges – I’ve ended up editing the HTML, and changing the

tags to

tags by hand.  There’s probably a better shortcut that will make my non-hacker friends happy.

Training, sharing, mutual problem solving was the order of the day.  Getting us around a table, elbow-to-elbow helped us quickly exchange ideas and plans.  I set up one wiki page per month for our plans for the rest of the year and we could edit simultaneously most of the day.  In prior meetings like this, one person ended up being the scribe, trying to listen to a half dozen ideas being thrown around,and try to capture the idea flow in parsable sentences.  It didn’t work well.

Private wiki, public wiki

SAP has SDN wiki spaces, open to the public (registered users), and CW wiki spaces, which are open by invitation only.  ASUG has had public wiki spaces for several months; we have now been allowed into private, or shared, spaces, so that we can create plans prior to public announcements.  I realized as we built our month-by-month plan that we’ll need a lot of the same content in the public space, so our members can tell what’s in the pipeline when the events are confirmed.  It will take discipline to avoid duplicating effort.

To keep learning curves short, I and others pioneer new software tools, looking for easy ways to get work done.  I then need to pass what I’ve picked up to others, and they need to give me the feedback on how it works for them.  Different learning and memorization styles means what is easy for me to do (hand-code markup) might be challenging for others.  The goal is to produce content, whether directly consumable, or ideas for future development, without getting bogged down in getting the tools to just do what we want.  Which leads to:

Time management

This one is the killer for a lot of applications, upgrades, and new software versions.  People just want to do their work, with little interference from GUIs, user interfaces, etc.

One example – an entry for an event in February:

Date Virtual Activities Commun-ications Survey Influence / Benchmarking Face-to-Face Events Other Why?
. . . . . Houston Chapter mtg- promote upcoming BITI events, Community Lounge at Conference – Gretchen  


Program committee breakouts

Switching hats, from year-round-community-facilitator, to Mobile Technologies special interest program chair, I watched Karin Tillotson get the BITI schedule on the board.  There are many ways to program, but often the fastest way to prototype a plan sequence is with a board and paper notes.

If you look at the grid below, there are several types of paper, ranging from official looking self-stick notes, to what looks like shredded newspaper attached with masking tape.  Quick, agile, flexible was the order of the day.

We converted electronic forms to paper and back to another to electronic form, as there are ranking grid spreadsheets, an official event repository, and numerous other places where we communicate ideas.  Even a few Twitter direct messages…

Kristen Dennis, ASUG Systems Management, Juergen Lindner SAP Point of Contact

On the bottom and right side of this chart are the “graveyard” choices.  Someone has to speak last, and someone has to be in the room farthest from lunch or other popular areas.  There are times when doing this job that you know someone will be unhappy.  We press on anyway.

Business Intelligence, Portals, and BITI (Business Integration, Technology and Infrastructure – that’s us), were in 3 adjoining rooms, making it easy for throwing content among teams; Enterprise Architecture was on another floor, as was the Influence council room (I never found that one).  I also didn’t get to the Chapter rooms, or a few other SIGS, we were so spread out.  That was probably my biggest disappointment, though I was able to catch up with other volunteers at food breaks, and on Sunday night networking.


After lunch Sunday, I tracked down Rao Subbarao of the Business Process Architecture SIG.  Marilyn Pratt had suggested him, as well as a other candidates, to do a podcast.  It was up on the ASUG site within the hour, and is now on SDN, not long before I posted this blog.

( podcast-rao-subbarao-talks-to-jim-spath-about-ea-and-bpa-in-2009 – ASUG login required.)

MP3 on SDN

Juergen Lindner, Lori Ritzert Vanourek networking in the hall


Norbert Nowak, et al, at ‘BITI Provisional Headquarters’


Assigned Tags

      Be the first to leave a comment
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.