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The Purpose of the Atlassian User Groups (AUG) - Part 1

Oh yeah! Last year was a great year for our Palm Bach Florida Atlassian User Group (AUG) and Temecula Valley California AUG and we ended with a great social event sponsored by Atlassian Partners and local companies. However, the question here is: Why should I attend or organize an Atlassian User Group (AUG) meeting?. Well, I hope this article will provide an answer and motivation as I share some insights about this great community initiative. (Due to space restriction this article has a Part 2, don't miss it!)

I personally found the AUG as the right channel to find individuals that share the same passion and enthusiasm for the Atlassian products. During my professional life I spent a good amount of time organizing events or working on Open Source EHR Community Development, however, since I started interacting with the Atlassian Community in 2008 I found myself immerse in a good wealth of knowledge, but more than that, surrounded by a treasure of good attitude, positive behavior and local empowerment. Bottom line, a great place to nurture and grow friendship and comradery.

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Palm Beach, FL AUG - Lunch and Learn session

I will share some experiences with you from different angles so you can have a big picture overview and understand what is really involved in this effort. As I do, I will honor other AUG Leaders around the globe and the Atlassian Community team that make this possible. Some of the angles that I would like to analyze are: The User Attending to our meetings, The AUG Leader, The Atlassian Partners, The AUG Local Online Community, our service project and our own local events information (just to share some ideas of the topics that we had during our meetings and probably to sparks some initiatives for your local events)

Let’s start with you, “The User” attending to the AUG Local Meeting

These meetings are for you, without considering your level of expertise, instead, focus in your search for knowledge. This is the place where you can find answers or help others finding theirs. Of course, room could be of different sizes but not all of them have enough space for the ego, so always ask to use the “Ego parking lot” that we have outside. Well, what I was trying to say is that it is a plain environment were all of us are the same, so we can be part of that warm atmosphere.

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Atlassian Team in Town presentation

Here are some key elements to consider in your role as member of your local AUG:

  • You have a need, then propose topics to the AUG leader. They have connections and are members of the Atlassian community so help is on your way and a future presentation addressing your need could be soon part of the schedule.
  • You have a good experience or business case to share. Let your leader know about it and be part of the next agenda. It is a bidirectional relationship, as you receive you can also give. Keep in mind that there is always someone that is probably dealing with some aspects of the products that you already resolved or addressed. Be the one that could help a colleague.
  • The topic to be presented is of your interest and you “RSVP” to attend, however, you are not still sure if you are able to go. Alert! Stop right there…, RSVP are important for the AUG leader, that is our parameter to estimate logistics and purchase the food and refreshments that will be provided. It is not the outcome of magic; AUG leader cover the cost and then they are reimbursed based on the number of attendees, (not perfect math either as we are not able to foresee the future). So, if you see too much food, that means that a lot of people registered and didn’t attend or on the other hand, if the food was not enough, we have a lot of unexpected participants, which is good and welcome!
  • Make your Local AUG strong, invite your colleagues and provide feedback to your AUG leader if there is something that needs to be addressed. We are all volunteers and users as you, with the only goal of interacting with other local users.

The AUG Leader

Of course, you can be the next one or the one that starts a new local Atlassian User Group close to your office or home. There is no expertise requirement to lead an AUG, passion and time is the only requirement. (Check the article that I wrote about "The AUG Leader Under the Hood" experience)

Some highlights to understand the AUG role:

  • You have a great Atlassian Community team that will support your efforts and provide whatever is needed. In addition, the AUG Leaders Community and Community champions will be there to assist you anytime.
  • The AUG leader is a moderator and always listen the AUG members.
  • If the group express interest in a topic, the leader will search for resources that could provide content.
  • Also, He/She is an expert caterer always looking for the best snacks and refreshments for the attendees (and under budget 😉 )
  • Is the leader able to receive help? Yes, and any assistance will be much appreciated. Signing up as a co-leader could be a good way to start this great journey.
  • “Leaders have access to presentations, videos, sample agendas and best practices from Atlassian and other user group leaders. You'll find everything you need to put on a first-class event.”
  • Hear what it takes to be a leader and to be part of an inner circle.

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@Fabian A_ Lopez _ACL _Mentor_@Carl Allen@Christopher Heritage@Jennifer_Weser (Palm Beach, FL AUG Leaders)

The Atlassian Partners and AUG

Well, we are entering here to a sensitive issue. In this article I am writing about “USER Group” and not “CUSTOMER Group”. And that is the first ground rule to keep present all the time. As soon as you pass the door, you are also an Atlassian user and all the attendees will expect that behavior as well.

One of the recommendations that are part of the Leader guidelines provided by Atlassian is focused on the role of the partners attending to these events. “No sales pitches: The main goal of Atlassian User Groups is for users to get together and learn from one another. Partners or Marketplace vendors are welcome to speak on relevant best practices, but sales pitches are not permitted. User group leaders should review presentations before events.”

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Atlassian and Partners Swags

Here we go with some considerations for Partners attending to AUG meetings

  • Be just a user, recognize other users and help them as you learn more about each one of the attendees needs.
  • An AUG Member could be the person using Atlassian products to change the world of electric cars, probably behind the next movie that will receive an Oscar or writing Electronic Health Record (EHR) software that will change the quality of care of many patients. You don’t know until you meet them. You will be surprised by the level of expertise and diversity that we have in our meetings.
  • If you are asked to address a topic or resolve an issue. Please answer it avoiding the worst answer possible like “Do you know that I charge for that type of answers?”. Please don’t do it, remember, you are in the Users Group as a “User” and not in the Customer Group. We need you there as one more of us and, this is the type of mindset that should be present in any of our meetings.
  • Believe in knowledge sharing. I am sure that if I start a research about how problems were resolved using these products, I am not going to find an Atlassian user that, at least once, solve a problem finding the solution as an answer of other community member.
  • Support the AUG, provide good content, share best practices and business cases. I understand that businesses are needed, but, from my point of view, there is not a true farmer in existence that harvest without planting a seed first.
  • “Atlassian has over 250 Solution Partners around the world, and they frequently volunteer their time to work with local user groups.”

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AUG member and end of the year event swags

The Local AUG Online Community

This is a new initiative to help us with local interaction as some events are not frequent as we need, this virtual “venue” allows us to continue our conversation, to start a new thread or just to be introduced to the group. Our Palm Beach Online AUG is active and we welcome and encourage our members to join.

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Highlights:

  • Ask the AUG leader if the online group is available and join to the group
  • Trigger some discussion topics and propose topics for the upcoming meetings
  • Answer your local members questions and foster collaboration
  • Have a good time building the new local Atlassian network!

Part 2: Our last year events and our Service Project

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