More than 200 attendees braved a cold, rainy (even snowy) weekend in Chicago to come together, connect, and exchange ideas for the year ahead during the 2020 ASUG Volunteer Meeting.

On the heels of a new website and branding launch, everyone was eager to learn where ASUG is headed and how these changes will affect its members. “ASUG is here to make more possible,” said ASUG CEO Geoff Scott. “We have come into this year with a renewed energy and understanding of what our mission as an organization is, and that’s quite simply just to help people in organizations get the most value out of their investment in SAP.”

The evening began with high energy as ASUG acknowledged volunteers who have led the charge to make more possible. “We can talk about software all day long,” Scott noted, “but it’s the people behind the software that make the software real and make it work for your organizations. And that’s really the true testament here, and it’s all of you in this room who make that happen and make that real.”

People Make More Possible

On the theme of people, Julieus Thomas, ASUG coordinator for volunteer engagement, set the stage to recognize the volunteers who have shown exceptional service to the ASUG network. “Tonight is about the people who make it happen,” Thomas said. “It’s about the people who take the ideas we craft in the office and then go out and execute them to perfection. It’s about the people in the audience—our volunteers.”

There were five volunteers recognized for their service and extraordinary work within ASUG peer groups, including Chavone Jacobs of the ASUG Colorado Chapter (Chapter Volunteer of the Year), Britany Christenson of the Global Trade Services Influence Council (Influence Council Volunteer of the Year), Peter Spielvogel of the User Experience Community (SAP Point of Contact of the Year), John Falk of the Environment, Health, and Safety Community (Think Tank Volunteer of the Year), and Cindy Seaburn of the ASUG Florida Chapter (SIG and Chapter Volunteer of the Year).

Each of these volunteers played a vital role in making more possible, as have the more than 200 ASUG volunteers who work together to make ASUG the user group it is today. They work year-round to help members and organizations get the most value out their SAP investment through education and influence. And the goal of this year’s Volunteer Meeting was to help them continue to do that in the most effective and efficient way possible.

Technology Makes More Possible

One of the focal points of this year’s meeting was to discuss the launch of the new ASUG website and branding. “Through research, we discovered that our website was the one area that would bring the most value to our members if we enhanced it,” said Cheryl Parsons, ASUG CMO. So last year, the ASUG team went to work creating a website that will serve as a tool and resource for its members looking to get the most value out of their SAP investment. At the event, volunteers were given a detailed walk-through of how to update their profiles to help connect them with the most relevant information based on their interests and then were encouraged to inspire their chapters, networks, colleagues, and other connections to do the same.

“This has been the best technological advancement in the last 12 years at ASUG,” said one volunteer. “I can actually find everything I’m looking for.” Once a member updates their profile, the new website framework will provide a more-personalized experience. “No two dashboards will ever look the same,” said Laura Brennan, ASUG senior manager of digital marketing. 

As for the new ASUG branding, volunteers frequently heard the message of making more possible. “Our vision is to become the most impactful technology community on the planet,” said Sarah Ahmad, ASUG creative director. “This is a pretty lofty vision, but I think the good news is we have the potential to get there. If your vision isn't lofty, if it’s too achievable, then it’s too easy and you don’t have that North Star to keep striving for. We’re the largest group of SAP users on the planet, so why can’t we be the most impactful, too?”

As part of the rebranding, the team revealed the five core values shared internally and externally: Join together. Work fearlessly. Lead the charge. Inspire trust. Celebrate customers.

Peers Make More Possible

Volunteers spent the weekend networking and learning from each other how to be the most effective in their roles at ASUG, as well as their roles within their organization. After all, it’s the access to the ASUG network of SAP customers that is the greatest benefit to members in North America.

“The sessions have been really excellent this year,” said Ann Largent of the ASUG Colorado Chapter. “The ones I've been in so far have been very forward thinking, more modern, and will set us up for good programming in 2020 for our members.”

Volunteers participated in road map sessions for both ASUG Think Tanks and Influence Councils. They also had the opportunity to learn from ASUG VP of Communication Tom Wailgum how lead an effective panel, as well as best practices for networking, led by guest speaker Leah Jones. 

“The greatest takeaway of this weekend is thinking about new ways to engage attendees at our chapter meetings,” said Iris Galarza-Vega of the ASUG Florida Chapter. “I’ve learned how to better leverage the networking that we're doing here so that we can take these ideas back and put theminto practice.”

ASUG Makes More Possible

It was two days packed with networking, learning, and planning, and the energy stayed consistent throughout the entire weekend. Scott said, “I’ve never been more excited about what’s ahead.” He added, “When I started at ASUG in 2014, the relationship with SAP was probably at the lowest level ever. The trust wasn’t there. We have spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding that trust, and now it’s probably the highest it’s ever been.”

That trust has opened doors that otherwise would not have been an opportunity to open, and it has allowed conversations to take place that perhaps would not have happened before. “Does it always work in our favor as customers?” Scott asked. “No, but we’re able to get out there and have productive and proactive conversations with SAP, and I think that is one of the things that makes ASUG the most vibrant, most outspoken, and most energetic user group in the world.”

The Volunteer Meeting is meant to prepare volunteers to be successful in their roles, and in turn make ASUG successful in its purpose. “It’s always been a challenge to get everyone on the same page,” said Terry Johnson, ASUG Michigan Chapter. “But my biggest takeaway this year has been ASUG’s ability to bring uniformity and people together. I think it’s going to help everyone moving forward.”

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