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My goal is to share a couple of lessons learned and also to motivate other people to take the initiative and do the work to make more community events happen. As you will see, all you need is a strong will, have the dispositions to make the necessary effort and take time to put everything together.

 

If you did not see yet, here is the #sitRP event page: https://blogs.sap.com/2018/02/19/sap-inside-track-ribeirao-preto-first-edition-2018-sitrp/

And here you can see pictures of the event day: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23sitRP&src=typd

 

I decided to split this blog into two parts, as follows.

Part 1

 Part 2

– My motivation

– What I have proposed myself to do

– How I have prepared myself

– Who helped me (aka: To who I am grateful)

– The value of PX, SX, OX, and VX

– Do your best to bring diversity

– You can be focused but you do not need to

– Bring local partners from the beginning

– Check everything in advance

– Make uncommon alliances

– Be ready for the unforeseen

– Community matters

– Remember you still have your regular job and personal life going on

– Make room for the day after

– Now, do it yourself!

– My next steps

 

You can read part 1 here if you did not yet.


This is part 2.

 

Lino Maggi talking about S/4HANA Cloud on #sitRP:

 

– You can be focused but you do not need to

Some people told me to consider choosing a clear focus for the sessions and selecting speakers based on that. I know it is a good advice in many situations.

It was not an easy decision for me to make, with no previous experience organizing SIT events, but I looked to some other SIT events to get inspiration on how to deal with this.

First I know that in São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil, the organizers had chosen to split SIT in two dates: one called “Functional Edition” and the other “Developer Edition”.

On the other hand, I saw the agenda from the most recent SIT Walldorf 2018, a much bigger event than the one I was organizing, and I absolutely loved the diversity of sessions.

So I decided that I would like to make #sitRP as useful as possible for everyone who works with SAP technologies in a variety of ways, so I decided to not be strict on the agenda and we had sessions with functional as well as developer content. We even had more general sessions focused on SCP, S/4HANA Cloud and Artificial Intelligence.

I wished I could have sessions on things like Business Models and Mindfulness/Meditation as I have seen in the #sitWDF agenda, but I think I did the best I could do in this situation.

 

– Bring local partners from the beginning

No matter how huge your local network of contacts and friends, it is likely that local SAP partners have privileged access to customers and consultants. So team up with them from the beginning so you can raise awareness about the event with their help.

It worked very well for me and I had many people registering for the event after local partners used their existing network to promote it.

 

– Check everything in advance

I had just two real problems while organizing this SIT event and I won’t repeat the mistakes that led to them anymore. This is the value of learning by doing.

The first one was not going in-person to do a detailed inspection of the place where the event was meant to happen. I was almost three weeks into organizing the event when I finally asked to see the actual rooms that a local university had offered. When I saw the venue I realized that the rooms were not large enough neither comfortable enough for our expected one hundred people (without counting speakers and volunteers).

So I had a big problem because I already had 150 registered people and I needed to deal with that. As I have already told, we could successfully switch to a more appropriate venue but it cost me a lot of extra hours of working to make sure that every attendee was aware of the changing locations.

Second, I wanted to print some stickers to give to people. I had received a digital file from the SAP Screen Personas team and I wanted to print it as stickers because we had the Personas Day on the day before SIT and we also had a session about Screen Personas. We chose what seemed the best quality supplier in the city, well referenced by someone else, and trusted them to make the stickers.

The supplier printed the stickers, someone else from the organizing team picked them up without checking them, and I realized as soon as I saw the stickers on the event day that they had something wrong. This was something serious enough for me to decide to not give them to people and it was really sad to me. So now I know that we have to check all the printed materials beforehand when organizing an event.

 

– Make uncommon alliances

When I was thinking about what I would like to see on the event agenda, and also thinking about the necessary diversity and inclusion, I started thinking about making some unusual alliances.

First, I was decided I wanted to have a session on Machine Learning (ML) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) because, in my opinion, it is a pressing issue that will permeate and change so many things in the tech world. I have a personal and deep curiosity and interest around ML and AI, so I wanted to give to the community an opportunity to know what is happening and what is likely to happen in this area.

So I have found a local company that has been founded by people who are experts in this area, and I invited them to host a session even knowing they had no experience at all with any SAP solution or technology. The session from Celso Azevedo, DATAH’s CTO was very insightful, I had heard lots of positive feedback from attendees and we have the additional benefit of making more people outside the SAP world aware of SAP’s own AI and ML platforms based on SAP Leonardo because we had Renato Gandara‘s session on SAP Cloud Platform. Here is Renato talking about SCP:

I also wanted to make a special session focused on Startup Founders because they are heavy users of technology, even being early adopters in most cases. I wanted to make them aware of how nowadays they can use SAP technology to build their apps and platforms, even when they are on very early stage on the startup life-cycle because there are solutions like HANA Express, OpenUI5 and Build that are perfect tools for the prototyping and MVP-building phase of any startup.

We know that at a later moment, when gaining traction, the startups could easily migrate to the full-fledged HANA DB, SCP, SAPUI5, API Hub, Leonardo and other SAP’s technologies. To make it happen I have made contact with the SAP’s local Startup Focus team but unfortunately, I did it a few days before the event date and, even them being highly supportive and interested in this approach, they had their agendas already taken for the event’s day. Anyway, I will still pursue this idea, maybe doing a smaller event to the Startup ecosystem in the city.

Finally, another unlikely opportunity had happened when I saw that some speakers came from sales, commercial or leadership backgrounds. Everybody knows that SIT events are focused on knowledge sharing, idea sharing, and community and relationship building. So I was afraid of having some people that were somehow professionally invested in sales among the speakers. I saw they had interesting session proposals but I was afraid to have someone trying to sell something.

What I did was to make a personal phone call to each person who made a session proposal and carefully explained, with details and examples, what SIT events are all about. I made it absolutely clear that it would not be acceptable for anybody to try to sell any product or service. And I told them that speaking at a SIT event is not an opportunity to sell, but an opportunity to teach something valuable and that they would be welcomed if they agreed with that.

The result was really amazing, we had fantastic sessions with people who deeply know the benefits of some solutions and technologies and they had taken the opportunity to teach it to their audiences. All the speakers told me they had a really rewarding experience of sharing their knowledge while respecting the SIT guidelines.

 

Here is another picture of Lino Maggi from SAP showing S/4HANA Cloud :

 

– Be ready for the unforeseen

You will very likely have unforeseen things happening on the event day. Maybe some speaker has any kind of problem and can not be there on time, so you must have a decent plan-b to make the participants stay happy.

For me, the biggest unforeseen was that the venue was suddenly out of available drinking water. I had some people coming to me and asking where to drink water. When someone told me he had pills to take and needed water I saw I had a crisis. So I immediately took the money I had in my wallet and asked one of the volunteers to go to the nearby supermarket and buy bottles of water. He did it and, in a few minutes, everything was OK again.

So, do your best to prepare, do your best to make alternative plans, but also do the best to have a supporting team you can count on when the unforeseen arises.

 

– Community matters

As a software developer, much of my time is spent “speaking to” SAP WebIDE, SEGW, Eclipse and SE80. Of course, you can imagine that I also spend some time talking to users, functional people, designers (yes we live in a UX world), but still, I like building software a lot.

Now I must say that organizing this event made my life totally crazy for a couple of weeks, and I really loved that! I am almost sure that in the six weeks before the event day I have probably talked with more people than on the previous couple of months, and I am not kidding.

From potential speakers to potential co-organizers, volunteers, stickers and coffee-break suppliers, people who knew people I wanted to know, and participants, I think I have talked to no less than 150 new people. I consider myself to be a “quiet person, or introvert” (as defined by Susan Cain), so I was totally outside my comfort zone during all this time and I was really enjoying it.

In the end, all of it was totally worthy! I have made lots of personal effort and I liked it so much, even to the point where I am already seriously thinking about doing it all over again (maybe in another city, or maybe in the same city again next year).

It is extremely rewarding to see people getting excited to be speakers and sharing their knowledge. It was also fantastic to see so many people choosing not to be with their families in a very sunny Saturday and instead come to see all the great sessions and network with their community colleagues.

 

To know more about the event’s online coverage on social media, please see this great blog with an amazing analysis by Tammy Powlas.

 

That is me on the left and Raquel delivering one of the day’s gifts for one of the participants:

 

This is the spirit of Community that matters and we have to make room for it to happen.

 

– Remember you still have your regular job and personal life going on

Every SIT organizer knows that they are doing volunteer work while organizing the event. But you must remember that you still have your full-time work, if you have one, and it won’t get any easier because of the exciting work of organizing a SIT event. Think that you will have two jobs for a while and one won’t get you any money (but will get you so much better things, such as new friends, new skills and lots of new knowledge).

Even as important, if not more, is that you still have to make time for your family. I had some trouble with that and one day I saw a picture of my wife on the wall at home and immediately called her to tell how much I was missing her.

Her daily life did not change because of what was going on and I was still at home (I work full time remotely, from my home office), but while organizing the event I had totally crazy hours, doing much of the work on my lunch time, dinner time, evenings, weekends and sometimes going to bed around 4:00am or 5:00am. So we did not have many interactions, if any, for six weeks.

So, keep in mind that organizing an event, having a full-time job and a family is no easy task and will demand much of your time. For myself, I can say it was worth every minute, and I can also say that my wife was proud to go to the event knowing how much personal effort I have put to make that happen.

Here you can see the event banner making my home a place inspired by the spirit of Community:

 

– Make room for the day after

The event day is like the “go-live” day of your project. You will see everything you have been preparing for so long finally happening and it is really rewarding and amazing! You will be glad you did it, you will want to be with all your co-organizers, speakers, volunteers, and attendees to celebrate at the end of the day. Definitely, do it!

Make plans for an evening event previously and announce it, so as many people as possible can plan to get together to network, celebrate and build stronger relationships.

On the day after the event, you will probably want to sleep a lot, out of tiredness. I know I had sleep no less than 12 hours on the day after and I had to keep a full week of well resting nights to fully restore myself. If I could I would definitely have gone on vacations for one or two weeks, before restarting to work fully restored.

The first weekday after the event is the day when the sponsors want to know who are the lucky people they have to make contact with to send them the giveaways. Maybe you have speakers and attendees with some urgent questions and it will be nice if you can answer them.

There are important tasks listed on the How to host an SAP Inside Track! Easy step-by-step guide to build a Community! wiki document, so be sure to read them.

 

– Now, do it yourself!

If you have ever wondered if you should organize or support a SIT event, my suggestion is: YES, definitely go for it! You will grow yourself as a person and also as a professional. You will make lots of amazing new friends and you will push beyond your comfort zone.

You know the quote that says that “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”? I think it is true and getting yourself into organizing an event like this, packed with knowledge sharing and relationship building, is a wonderful way of stretching your mind, your relationships and your comfort zone for the better.

 

– My next steps

Going to many SIT events as a speaker and now being one of the organizers of #sitRP and #PersonasDay definitely made me see myself not as just a software architect and consultant anymore, but also as someone who can create and share useful knowledge and also motivate like-minded people to get together and exchange even more knowledge and ideas.

I think it is extremely important because now we live in a “life-long-learning” world and people must be always looking for new opportunities to grow and they have to believe they can do it, like Carol Dweck teaches us on her “growth mindset” theory.

 

Now my next steps, related to the SAP Community, will be the following:

  • I am already organizing, with Cris Hansen, the second edition of Personas Day in Brazil. It is an event very similar to the SAP CodeJam events, where people will experience how to use SAP Screen Personas as a tool to solve real-world problems. The event will happen at SAP’s Brazil HQ and, because of that, I have decided to name it PersonasDay@SAP. Here is the event page: https://blogs.sap.com/2018/03/11/personas-day-sao-paulo-brazil-2018/

 

  • I am working with local Startup communities both in Ribeirão Preto and São Paulo to make one event in each city, where we will have product experts showing how to use SAP’s technology to build new apps or platforms. With this, I want to create opportunities for knowledge sharing about how and why Startup founders should consider using SAP technology to build their new products and companies, even on earlier stages when they don’t have money to invest. Here is the page for the first SAP Startup Day event: https://blogs.sap.com/2018/04/13/sap-startup-day-ribeirao-preto-brazil/

 

  • I am so happy and grateful to have been accepted as a speaker on the upcoming community-driven UI5Con@SAP that will happen on June 22nd, 2018 in St. Leon-Rot (Germany). I have been there in 2017 and it was an awesome event for 400+ people interested in teaching and learning everything related to UI5. I will do a presentation about my (not so easy) journey from ABAP developer to UI5 developer, the same presentation I did as a speaker on #sitRP.

 

  • Finally, I can’t stop thinking about getting involved with organizing more SIT events because it is such a rich experience and I want to repeat it. I hope to have news on that soon!

 

Thank you for reading about my experience and I hope you get motivated to be an active participant in the SAP Community if you are not yet. The community needs people willing to build and share, so take the initiative also because even smaller actions really matter!

 

Best wishes,

Douglas

 

 

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    1. Douglas Cezar Kuchler Post author

      Thank you, Raquel! Without your help, ideas and guidance I am sure I would not be able to make it work.

       

      It has been an amazing experience and I’m really looking forward to making it again!

       

      See you and hope we can soon collaborate on SAP Community events or projects again.

       

      Douglas

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