In collaboration with SAP, ASUG hosted a series of eight seminars in September and October focused on Customer Centers of Expertise (COEs) throughout the United States and Canada. The volunteer leaders of the ASUG CCC/COE SIG, Brian Dahill and Gabe Rodriguez, and ASUG Board Member, Paul Kurchina, were key players in planning these events.The seminars were held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Palo Alto, Atlanta, Houston, Toronto, Calgary, and Seattle. The events were held at local SAP offices or local customer meeting facilities.
In total, we had 319 people register to attend the seminars. There was a registration fee: $295 USD for members and $395 USD for non-members. Each seminar received between 30 and 49 registrants. It is also worth noting that many of the companies that participated sent several employees to a seminar.
All the seminars had a similar agenda: four SAP-presented sessions; a session presented by a customer company; one session presented by an analyst from AMR Research; a short session highlighting the event sponsors; one session detailing the different COE resources available, including Benchmarking studies, the ASUG CCC/COE SIG, and Service Marketplace; and a panel session at the end of the day featuring all the seminar speakers. The only exceptions to this agenda were the Calgary and Toronto seminars where Derek Prior from AMR Research presented twice.
Sponsors were brought in to cover the costs of the seminars. We used two different sponsorship models for these events:
- Lead Sponsors sponsored the entire series of seminars. In exchange for their sponsorship contribution, the lead sponsors had their company names and logos included on all signage, highlights in all relevant promotional e-mails, a complimentary registration to each seminar, and ten minutes during each seminar to highlight the work and expertise of their company. In addition to this, the lead sponsors also received a Webcast hosted by ASUG. Two lead sponsors were secured, Flexera Software (formerly Accresso) and SAP's Solution Extension Group.
- In exchange for a smaller sponsorship contribution, the Local Sponsors received the above recognition for one seminar. The only exception was the Local Sponsors did not receive a Webcast. Six Local Sponsors were secured; four of the Local Sponsors supported just one seminar, one Local Sponsor supported two seminars, and one Local Sponsor supported three. The following companies were Local Sponsors:
- Realtech, Inc. - Philadelphia
- RWD - Atlanta
- CGI Group, Inc. - Toronto
- Open Text - Toronto
- Revelation Software Concept (Rev-Trac) - Chicago, Houston
- smartShift, Inc. - Chicago, Palo Alto, Houston
There were no sponsor booths or tables, but the sponsors were given space to provide written materials and collateral about their companies. Beyond that, the representative attending the seminars on behalf of the sponsoring company was encouraged to participate in the seminar as a regular attendee and make use of the networking breaks provided.
A standard evaluation form was provided to each seminar attendee at the beginning of each seminar day and overall the feedback received from the attendees was positive. The majority of attendees rated the level of seminar content as “Just Right” and indicated that the major components of the COE topic were addressed. When asked how useful the event content was with respect to job responsibilities and the current organizational issues faced, most respondents indicated that the content was “Extremely Useful” or “Very Useful”. In general, across the eight seminars, the customer presentations and the AMR Research presentations received the highest ratings. In particular, the attendees seemed to appreciate the third party perspective that AMR Research was able to provide on the COE topic. Some specific quotes received from attendees about the event are listed below:
- “I am a strong advocate of the CCOE Concept/Methodology! Let me know how I can spread the CCOE gospel.”
- “Excellent range of topics and speakers. Thanks for a valuable day!”
- “Great content. Overall, glad to have participated.”
- In regards to a customer presentation:
- “Excellent: it was great to hear a customer account of how it works in real life.”
- “Good real life examples - helpful to ask questions against their setup.”
- In regards to AMR Research’s presentation:
- “Excellent: Very relevant - good top-level structure and thought with grounding in facts. Can definitely use to move forward.”
- “Excellent: Several good takeaways. Really on point for today's topic."