Running a Successful OpenView Forum Local Chapter Meeting (It’s Not That Difficult)
With over ten years experience selling HP OpenView solutions, and five years managing local chapter meetings, I have a few ideas to share with you about running successful user group meetings in your area. I run between five and ten local chapter meetings a year in the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan Regions, which has led to developing many creative ideas that have kept users coming back again and again to leverage the networking opportunities, and learn about HP OpenView solutions.
We started the local chapter meetings because our customers wanted to know what other companies were doing with OpenView products, and hear about the successes they were having. Networking with other OpenView users, we could share problem- solving techniques. Also our customers wanted to hear responses from other users about new OpenView product announcements and how it may effect existing production environments.
My goal here is to share with you my experiences running local chapter meetings and the resources we used to make them successful. Make your chapter meetings a great place to share Enterprise Management Expertise!
Step One... Get a Technical Co-Lead
As a sales guy, I knew that if we were going to be successful running local chapter meetings, I would need help from a co-lead who had technical expertise. I could facilitate the meetings, get speakers, send out invitations, order lunch, etc. But I really didn’t know what a technical user group would find interesting as topics of discussion. So my step number one for you is to get a technical co-lead – if you are not technical yourself, that is. A good sales guy always listens to a technical guy...right?
In the Ohio Region I found the perfect technical co-lead: Tracy Staats, currently Big Lots Stores OpenView Senior Architect. Tracy has been involved with OpenView products for over ten years in some of the largest companies in the world. He has experienced all kinds of product development – both good and bad.
With a good technical co-lead like Tracy Staats, the discussion will lead to concerns about current product functionality, road maps of new products, and other presentations that will keep your technical audience engaged. From these conversations, you and your co-lead can build an agenda of interesting and pertinent presentations.
Step Two... Find Presenters
With a little outside-of-the-box thinking, finding presenters can be easier than you think. My advice is to start close to home – with your end user community! Everyone wants to be known as the guru, and here’s their chance.
Companies that have a good OpenView implementation will be proud to talk about it. Ask them questions like: “How did you do that?” “What makes it work better at your company?” “How did you get upper management to support the project in year two or three, beyond the original order?” Presenting to a local chapter meeting is a great opportunity to showcase their company’s products and services, as well as their own technical skill set. And in some cases, it’s not just one presenter, but a group effort by the whole team. One chapter meeting hosted by Meijer, the large WalMart competitor in the Midwest, started with a high level presentation by the EMS manager, followed by tactical presentations by the UNIX, Windows and Application specialists and their use of the Openview suite.
The monitoring team may decide to invite their lines of business and showcase to the internal organization just what is possible with a little more cooperation. Talk about a win-win situation. This concept worked very well for the team at Lexis-Nexis, a law library service bureau in Dayton, Ohio. By exposing their lines of business to the success of the ESM, in front of users of other companies, it exposed them to the value that the OpenView implementation could provide the rest of the organization.
There are a lot of other places to look for presenters in the enterprise management space. We have found that many of our OpenView implementations are not isolated, but rather integrated with third party element managers, help desk and other management tools. So feel free to find speakers in this arena who can present third party integrations. You may find that some very interesting discussions evolve as a result.
Like the HP OpenView business unit, there are a ton of third party companies that could use the OpenView Local Chapter meeting as a vehicle to introduce their tool sets. These companies are also willing to pay for lunch or a hotel room to host your meeting. Or they may also have a conference room large enough to host your event.
Tap HP OpenView’s resources for presenters. HP’s solution architects are training to present the latest updates or new product solutions from the HP OpenView division. Their job is to support the direct sales teams in their effort to introduce the products to corporate America and pump products into new accounts. In many cases, the presentations are already completed, rehearsed, and will take little effort to tailor to your local chapter meeting.
Another HP source for OpenView presenters comes from the channel support organization of the HP OpenView division. HP provides resources for the channel partners training events to get partners up to speed on the new product announcements. These same resources are also great candidates for local chapter presenters. They are a little harder to find, but I would recommend finding the HP OpenView channel partners in your area and letting them help find these folks for you.
Leverage your local channel partner’s resources
Speaking of channel partners, talk about a group that would love to get in front of your group. In fact, I think most local chapters are run by channel partners looking for a little exposure to a base of users in a niche they market to.
Leverage channel partners for presentations from their consulting practice as well as their customer base. This is where you get the great presentations of actual product use and implementation practices used by fellow end users in real world scenarios. These presentations give the best insight to how products get implemented and how they are integrated into an end user environment. Also you will learn how the OpenView products are accepted by the many company silo organizations.
Step Three... Find the right location
When it comes to location, it’s easiest if your end user hosts the event at their company. Demo their OpenView system via a LAN connection to the conference room and get a bird’s eye view of their system in action! Your local user group will love it, guaranteed.
In my Ohio chapter, we have been hosted by FedEx and Goodyear in Akron, Sherwin Williams and First Energy in Cleveland, Lexis Nexis in Dayton, and MCI and JPMorgan Chase in Columbus. In Michigan, our hosts have included AAA Michigan in Dearborn, Meijer and Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Herman Miller in Holland, The State Library in Lansing, DTE Energy in Detroit, and Daimler Chrysler in Sterling Heights. Usually, the bigger the company, the easier to get as a host sponsor.
If it’s not possible to find a host company, then look into hotel conference rooms and other venues of that sort.
Step Four... Pay attention to logistics
Providing an opportunity for mingling and networking will increases attendance dramatically. Our customers want to know what other companies are doing with the products, what successes they are having, and how potential problems are solved. So besides the HP OpenView presentation, try to get at least one end user presentation at every meeting.
How many presentations should you have in one user group meeting? Good question! Try to make the chapter meeting interesting by not having too many presentations. We typically have three presentations, sometimes four if we slip in lunch in-between. Oh yes, did I mention that HP would be willing to pay for lunch? The lunch session is a great time to let the users talk to each and discuss upgrades and new functionality.
What time is a good time to start a local chapter meeting? I’ve found that if your group is willing to travel two to three hours to come to your local chapter meeting, the least you can do is start the event about 10:00 a.m. My events run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., which gives most folks time to be home for dinner. Go to the www.ovforum.org website under the OVFI Chapter pull down menu to find agenda’s from other user groups around the country.
Step 5... Leverage HP resources
HP OpenView is your best friend! They will help you make your local chapter meetings a success. With new product announcements and updates, HP uses local chapter meetings to get their message across. They will provide solution architects to present. If you can’t find a host location, they will pay for a hotel conference room. They’ll even pay for lunch or snacks. HP’s expertise is just waiting for you to tap into!
So there you have it – five easy steps to running a successful OpenView Forum local chapter meeting. Let us know about your successes.
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