More than 200 ASUG volunteers met in Austin, Texas last week to help plan a successful year ahead for ASUG Members. They volunteered their time and weekend to come together and learn best practices for planning chapter and special interest group (SIG) meetings, as well as the agenda for the 2019 SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference.

“This is the fifth time I’ve had the privilege of addressing you at the ASUG Volunteer Meeting,” ASUG CEO Geoff Scott said as he greeted volunteers. “I am as awed and excited by ASUG today as I was five years ago. I see great opportunity. I see a bright road ahead.”

Scott thanked the volunteers and told them the road ahead starts with them. “You’re an amazing group of people who believe so much in this great organization and SAP technology that you continue to carve out precious hours of time to help our community grow, to bring us together in chapter and SIG meetings, and to help educate, connect, advise, and influence.”

An Investment in Connections and Influence

ASUG would not be the user group it is today without the dedication of its 350 volunteers who work tirelessly year-round to help members and organizations get the most value out their SAP investment.

“Your engagement, passion, and enthusiasm for ASUG is what energizes and motivates me, motivates all of us, to reach higher and farther,” Scott said.

Their goal to educate their peers and influence SAP was front and center during the volunteer meeting. Attendees participated in workshops geared toward learning new and engaging ways to organize events, as well as to communicate with the broader ASUG Member base.

“There’s been real good discussion and great brainstorming this weekend,” said Cathy Kenlin, Supply Chain Management SIG. “It’s been great having everyone here so volunteers can discuss solutions to common problems in the workplace.”

Painting a Picture of the SAP Customer Journey

During his welcome address, Scott said, “Knowing your audience is more than identifying their characteristics. It’s about understanding attitudes, behavior, preferences, needs, and wants.” What better way to know that then by knowing the state of our community?

In addition to the various workshops and group discussions, attendees received the results of the 2019 ASUG State of the Community study.

“We wanted to share this with the volunteers to give them a deeper understanding of what SAP customers truly find important,” said Adam Page, ASUG’s market research manager. “Where are they headed next in their technology journey, and where do they need ASUG’s help? These results help paint that picture more clearly, and I think volunteers were excited to get that information.”

Page also held a session where he discussed the results of the first ever ASUG Event survey. Volunteers learned about ways to increase attendance for their events while improving the overall event experience.

During his closing, Scott challenged the volunteers to ask the important question of why. “Why should our members care and what’s in it for them?” he asked. “We are an essential element of success for them, and we have to reflect that in the chapter meetings we do, the SIG events we do, the webcasts we do, and the sessions we conduct at ASUG Annual Conference.”

Paving the Road Together as a Community

During the second keynote session, Miranda Barrett, vice president of membership growth and retention, The Community Company shared tips on how to build trust. She discussed Tuckman’s stages of group dynamics, which include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Barrett stressed that to build a strong community, you need to set expectations, hold people accountable, and show vulnerability.

The community of ASUG Volunteers are already on that road and come back year after year to make it stronger. Mark Richardson of the Ontario Chapter has been an ASUG volunteer for nine years. “The community and the ability to network with peers is what keeps me coming back every year. This is the most valuable method for getting education and finding out what’s really happening.”

Jonathan Patton, Carolinas Chapter added, “I’ve been a volunteer for three years and I keep coming back for the community. I really appreciated Barrett’s approach in getting to know the people you work with in a group. I thought it was very helpful.”

Collaborating Through Outreach

Volunteers for both chapters and SIGs worked together within their communities to brainstorm new ideas for the coming months. “I think it’s important going forward for cross collaboration between the SIGs that have the expertise and the chapters that have the need for speakers, sessions, and hands-on workshops,” Richardson said. “Our community needs to be able to match expertise and information to location.”

Jennifer Hanke, volunteer for the Apparel, Footwear, and Fashion SIG, echoed that sentiment adding, “My one take away for this meeting is evolution. We are evolving and we’d be best served if we can keep communication going throughout the year.”

One way to do that is to actively participate in ASUG communities, whether it’s through a SIG or a local chapter, or both. Another way is to contribute through the ASUG Blog. Ann Marie Gray, ASUG VP of content, introduced the ASUG Blog Program to volunteers and encouraged them to share their knowledge and expertise with using SAP technology. The program is open to all ASUG Members, and we encourage you to start submitting your ideas for blog posts.

In closing, Scott invited all the volunteers to, “Come on this journey with us. Let’s build the best technology user community on the planet, together.” Thank you again to the ASUG Volunteers for helping us walk that road.

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