Hello, Atlassian Community! We are THRILLED to announce that we'll be hosting our first ever live AMA at Summit 2019 in Las Vegas. Submit your questions below and our panelists will answer them at Summit.
Location: Shoreline Expo
Date & Time: 09 Apr 2019, Community Night
Panel Session: 6:40pm-7:20pm Theater A
Our panel of experts will be ready to share their experiences leading Atlassian's online, offline, and in office Communities. Ask them anything about their Atlassian journeys, the impact that becoming a Community leader has had on their careers or anything else you're curious about!
You can read more about our panel below, and be sure to add your questions for them in the comments below. Feel free to add general questions for the group or direct specific questions towards a particular panelist––you'll hear answers to your questions live at Summit in Las Vegas!
Stephen began his Atlassian journey as a Dallas Atlassian User Group Leader in 2013. From there, he became a Community Champion, attended 4 Summits as a customer, and joined the Atlassian TEAM in 2018 as a Senior Community Support Engineer
He also is an avid baker and is an ultimate team player!
Fadoua is a Community Champion who works in the healthcare industry at Inova Health System as a Systems Administrator. She just joined the Northern Virginia AUG leadership team!
Fadoua is a constant source of inspiration and helps to all Community members. She's the only Atlassian Admin in her Institute and is thus an expert in supporting Marketplace Apps and triaging bugs.
She loves photography, painting on glass and going to Taekwondo class.
Kimberly Deal is a co-leader of the Columbus, Ohio Atlassian User Group and is also a Community Champion
She built her user group from the ground up, from zero to close to 250 members!
Kimberly is a skilled cupcaker, and her dream job is orchestrating a pyrotechnic event.
Mark is a Software Engineer at Cisco (where he's been since 2006!) where he started a Company User Group program in 2016. His first meeting was a hit with over 200 attendees, and the rest is history. Mark is as a JIRA, Confluence, and Bitbucket Administrator, and manages 14 team members as a technical lead. Most importantly, Mark is a huge star wars fan who appreciates really high-quality stickers from his software vendors.
Danny is a Senior IT Manager at TD Securities, where he started a company user group. He is also the co-leader for the Toronto Atlassian User Group and a Community champion.
In his first year as a User Group Leader, he hosted 12 events. Danny is also known for his awesome pizza making skills.
Danny is constantly mentoring others to help drive success with Atlassian tools and is also involved in the Toronto agile community.
How do you reconcile your Community Champion effort with your main job? Do you have any agreement with your employer?
As an AUG leader, how do you motivate your AUG members to be more active, e.g. give a talk on their own and not just consume talks?
There is no agreement between my employer and myself. I try to answer questions during my lunch time or after work. Also if there is downtime at work, I jump to the community site and try to help.
There are days when it is really hard I try to do it over the weekend to make up 😉
Hi @Thomas_Schlegel & @Meg_Holbrook
Much like @Fadoua I do not have an agreement with my employer. All the work I do on here is on my own time, though both my previous employer and current employer will work with my schedule when I am working with the Columbus User Group, either leaving work early for our evening program or coming in late if I am facilitating a breakfast meeting.
For @Thomas_Schlegel 's second question, I think finding ways for our users to get to know each other and be more comfortable around the membership has really helped us in getting people to present talks. In the more open formats, we encourage conversations among the members and when we hear someone talking about a subject they seem to feel comfortable with, will ask them if they would be interested in presenting on that subject. We've been able to have several user presented sessions over the last year using that method.
The company user group has been a bit different.
It started as me doing this on spare time on top of everything else. Since it has been recognized as a best practice after an internal audit, my management is more inclined to give me time to plan this and even consider getting involved in the Regional User Group.
Questions for the panel.
1. This is really challenging, and before the start of the User Groups in the Community, nearly impossible. I would do as much as I could with newsletters, but that is a single direction of communication. We also tried a stint with the LinkedIn groups, but it wasn't a user friendly experience to maintain. I was really glad to have the Community space for our Group, because it allowed for Bi-directional communications with our Membership. I still do a newsletter, but I often use it to direct the members to current content being shared here in the Atlassian Community space.
2. I really love the seeing the connections being made, both the in person, friendship/work buddy, type and the "Oh! That's how that works!" type. I find getting people the answers and the help they need with a problem or project super rewarding. I also love being able to collaborate on solutions. With many of the aspects of Atlassian products, there is more than one way to go about something. Some times one way fits better than others and it is fun to discover which way that is with others.
2a. Challenges. Getting more people to see the value in coming together in person. There is a lot of social interactions happening online these days, and that's really great. I love that there are more ways than ever to be in contact with others, but I don't feel like the deep connections are as easy to make online. There is a certain sense of spontaneous creativity that happens in person, that while not impossible to happen online, is a bit harder and must be deliberately sought out.
2b. Changes. That we all got a little more help promoting our events and encouraging people to come seek out those in person interactions.
1. For the Toronto AUG we have a Community group we try to use to engage our members. We also have tried social media with a Twitter account, though that seems to get a limited audience.
2a. The most rewarding part is easily the people I've had the opportunity to meet. Our local members, the other Community leaders and all the amazing Atlassian folks supporting us. Has been an incredible experience and I enjoy every minute of it.
2b. Biggest challenges have been trying to build our user base in Toronto. We have a solid, loyal group coming out to events but we haven't been able to really grow the group as quickly as we'd wanted. Hoping the Community group will help us with this goal.
1. Again as a company AUG this has been a bit easier because we track users of our tools that login and I use that to build the list of people to contact about upcoming user groups. I have been thinking about a regional group and agree with the above. I have considered building a mailer and a slack channel to go with but I'm not sure what issues I might run into yet either.
2a. I find it rewarding to provide a forum for others to learn about Atlassian products (Jira & Confluence). Because I get to see when people start to realize what is possible and then start to ask additional questions on how to go even further.
2b. Getting others to want to present on what they are doing in a way that would be useful for others. I would like to encourage other departments within the company to want to present as well.
@Jan-Peter_Rusch & @Dileep_Bhat
I try to crowd source the topics at much as possible. I also try to make sure that I have a few Tools Agnostic talks thrown in. Usually around CI/CD, Testing&QA, and Agile Methodologies, with tie ins to the Atlassian Tools that can help with each of these areas. I try to balance the Tools, through out the year, but it can be a challenge, as there are * A Lot* of tools, and different groups of people interested in each one.
I think you are always going to interest a different group of people with each product or talk focus. Some things will have a broader appeal and some a more focused appeal, and that is Ok too. Not every event has to be appealing to a large group, for it to be valuable. Just make sure to scale your venue, food, and expectations to the crowd you are going to attract, and try to alternate the topics so that you are not looking at a narrow focus more often than a broad appeal topic.
We usually poll our members for topics they would like to hear at upcoming sessions. Once we get a main, general topic we will try to build out that entire event around that topic so we can make it an overall theme. We try to keep a good balance between the tech and non-tech talks and will advertise the event accordingly so the audience is aware.
(I am new co-leader, at the moment my experience is very limited)
Our Breakfasts run an 1:30, with a very short program, to allow for as much group discussion time as possible. I have to shoo them out the door sometimes :)
The Evening events run 2:00. I try to keep at presentations 45 minutes to an Hour with time for questions. We have some that have one presentation and some that have two. If they are two, I ask for the presentations to run 30 minutes, with no more that 15 minutes of questions, so we can put a 10 minute break in between.
Two presentations don't leave a lot of time for socialization, but can have a broader appeal, since we can cover two topics. I also use the two topic format as often as I can when we have a remote presentation. To cover for any potential connection/equipment failures.
For our lunch sessions we try to keep them to 90 minutes. We usually keep to one shorter presentation and then group discussion for these sessions. For our evening sessions we again do 90 minutes of presentations and try to leave the last 30 to 60 minutes for networking between the members. We also host a year-end social that we don't put a time limit on ;)
For our company user groups, I have to stick to 60 mins as they are presented during the business day. I have to work with timezones around the globe. We decided not to present multiple times and instead pick a time that works for the most groups and record the sessions to provide for everyone that couldn't attend.
The topics are around 45 mins in length with 15 mins Q&A. I save the chat and Q&A to store with the recording.
Whenever I interviewed for a position, I am told you will have to wear multiple hats if hired. I guess it became part of my life. I have to admit in my personal life I have a great husband who is really helping, regarding AUG meetup there are 3 wonderful leaders we split tasks. The rest I try to juggle in the best way I can. There are times I fail, I take a break then resume when I feel like I can.
It does take a lot of support from those around me. My partner and Co-AUG Leader have really been a great help with the heavy lifting. Literally. I couldn't do half of what I do with out that support.
The keeping the sanity part....I'm pretty sure I lost that some years ago :D
I have to go with the answers above. I make sure to surround myself with wonderful teammates that are passionate about Atlassian tools as well. I guess if I were to add anything new it is about picking the people around well. For work, we interview everyone from the standpoint of team fit AND diversity then consider the skills. We often feel like we can teach the skills as long as the person brings a different perspective and wants to work as a team. It sounds corny but it really has worked for us. I tend to do the same in my personal life (but a bit more subconsciously). If you can't laugh together it will become work and less likely to keep rolling.
I have taken over a community that is inactive. I have sent out messages, requested input on how, where, and when to have meetings, and even just scheduled a meeting without any response from the existing community.
Do you have any advice for revitalizing interest in participation? Or on totally rebuilding the community from scratch?
When I joined the community I had burning questions to ask, but no one responded. I don't want another new person to experience that frustration.
I have to tell you, I adore your profile pic! <3 Puss-in-boots!
I can tell you a bit about what worked for us. We went with Tuesday evenings and the second one of the month, because that didn't conflict with our schedules and hoped that it wouldn't conflict with others. There is something going on every night of the week here in Columbus, We, not so jokingly, say, that if you were fine eating Pizza, you could go to a meetup every night of the week and never cook. So we were bound to conflict with something, and just decided to go with what worked best for us.
I do think the hardest thing for us was to gain traction and get the word about us out. I tried attending a lot of other meetups, to hand out business cards and talk about the group. I try to post frequently on LinkedIn about our local goings on. Twitter doesn't seem to do a lot for us in gathering membership, but we do have an account there too.
We were slow to grow, and I would not say that we are a large group even now, we have a good core of people and several that come around as the topic applies to them. I have really been driven to provide content that is valuable to the people who show up. Really taking to heart that it is quality over quantity. I particularly try to drive for the members to connect with each other and to be resources for each other. That's were the value is in the community, not just having me to come to with questions, but to bring them to the meetings and ask each other.
I had to learn a bit, to have the mindset, that even if One single person showed up, and if I brought value to that person, I have done a good job. If no one showed up, that was ok too. I would spend that time, improving myself with the products and use the time to start planning the next event. There were some very discouraging times, but I am glad that I am still working to bring value to even just one person that would show up to my events.
Feel free to reach out to me directly through the Community channels. If you would like to chat more.
I am sorry to hear about your experience. I have to say that has been my biggest fear about starting a regional group because i have heard that the one in my area has folded under twice in the past. It is why I started with the company user group first. That being said, what I have learned from the company user group was to be willing to try different things to see what works. Much like what @Kimberly_Deal__Columbus_ACE_ mentioned. I tried different deliveries (in person vs online), times, locations to see what caught the most people. I plan to try the same thing soon when I take a shot at restarting our regional group. I also plan to first find 2-3 core people in my area to get started and grow from there. That way if we show up then it is a benefit to us at a minimum.
So I've done some crazy stuff with them, just so that I could get use to using them. I'm an admin for the tools, but didn't really have a good way to use them, and building out a full Jira project, just to track my own work (in the days before Trello!), didn't really help, since I was going to have to track it across three different systems then.
So I purchased a cloud license for Jira and for Confluence, here are the odd things I currently use the for.
Plan a Garage Sale
Track the Full Remodeling of our bathroom
Track Presenter and Location offerings for our User group
Track Dog walking clients and millage for each engagement
Log my Lego kit inventories, purchased new and used.
Summit and Vacation trip planning. Keep Itinerary and Reservation information, as well as Sightseeing activities.
Track Household expenses, both regular bills and Home Improvement spending.
Track Home Improvement needs and contractors contacted/used.
Library to keep all of my PDF type Documentation for several technical products that I use, such as Linux/Unix Documentation, Solarwinds & Grafana, and some Atlassian docs as well, using the Tags on Attachments features.
I also plan to start putting all of my Community Articles into my Confluence space, so I can start writing them more in advance for publication on a schedule.
This year I am using Jira for the open sessions which is a little awkward but has the rooms as columns (and therefore workflow states) and a custom field for the time slots and used for swimlane queries.
I have seen some interesting confluence spaces and apps there to help with building out documentation templates for a product. I also use Confluence store all my user group meetings with links to the recordings and the Q&A.
We do some App recommendations at our meetings, but only when there is a problem that one of our members is trying to solve, or when we do a pressentation on App & Best Practices. For the Apps & Best Practices, we talk about the Market Place and some of the larger use Apps. We will also have presentations on particular Apps, if they have been requested by our membership. We don't blindly make recommendations on Apps or often have partners in to just tell us about their Apps. They must be part of a larger discussion on a particular topic or a User Presented use case.
We had some AUG meetups where the presenter shared some valuable information regarding best Apps for both Confluence and JIRA.
I am reluctant when it comes to sharing details about a plugin versus another. Sometimes if asked about a specific App, I try to answer the question in the best way I can especially if I used it otherwise I invite the user to read more about the App online since every vendor has detailed documentation.
This is a double edged sword. I wish we were a bit more consistent, however we tend to recommend Apps that we use across all of our instances or extremely frequently. However, from there, we try not to recommend apps as much as allow Vendors to present benefits of using it. Then we inform our users that we have an App review and approval process before we will include it on a Jira or Confluence instance. We are upfront about being more open with Apps that are supported where the Vendor is active, Atlassian has reviewed along with others. We actually prefer Apps with a cost because then we know what we are getting into up front as opposed to starting with a Free App that is awesome that starts costing a good bit of money as a surprise.
1. As an AUG leader, how do you find more community participants in the city?
2. As a Community Champion, how do you allocate your own work and time investment in the community? I know that the latter requires a lot of time and effort. What does this kind of contribution bring to you?
Thanks for sharing!
1. Great Question. What I did was try to attend other Meetups that might have people who would use the Atlassian Products. DevOps/SecOps meetups and BA meetups have been my usual focus, with the occasional AWS and Kubernetes meetups.
Posts to LinkedIn and reaching out to some of the larger recruitment firms have helped too.
2. This is pretty tough, I often feel like I don't really have enough time to put into the Community as I would like to. I'm an AUG Leader, an Online Group leader and a Community Champion. So I've got a lot going on just with all of that, and I'm involved in a couple of other organizations too. I've got a lot going on! I try to balance it as best as possible, and do a lot of prioritization, based on event and due dates. Sometimes stuff does fall through though. I tend to focus most on the In Person and Online Groups and wright, the very occasional, article for the Community. I don't answer many questions, because the time commitment can get away from me if the question was improperly asked or if the answer isn't quite what the asker needed. Too many follow-up can wreck my time, and I don't want to leave someone hanging if they still need the help.
Here is the analogy I will give you: when you love someone you always find time for them. Same goes with the community help 😊 however I do know that not everyone has time we all get caught up in our daily lives.
I am not quite sure what you mean by extended the product. I've had people from other departments approach me about using Jira or Confluence for their teams. Confluence is fairly easy to open up to teams beyond a development team, and in my previous position was used widely across the environment, including as the corporate landing page.
Jira is a little more challenging, in that what ever groups decide to use it, you still have to work to keep a consistency to the structure of it, to be able to maintain the custom fields and workflows in use. But, I often say, if the work has a process flow, you can use Jira to track it. I've helped Legal, HR, and Event Planning teams use Jira for their processes.
We started with Jira and Confluence for our Engineering Business Units. Over time, word got out and we have grown to support HR, Training, Advance Services, IT, along with others. We are bringing in Trello and looking at StatusPage and potentially OpsGenie. Another group supports Bitbucket. We also have started integrating the tools to other used tools that might be homegrown or purchased for Test Management or other Help Desk tools.
We didn't have to sell it because we made sure to start small but have a plan in place for all the little things like DR, backups, monitoring. We make an effort to automate and upgrade twice a year. So then word of mouth gets out and we just keep growing.
I try to have event topics that have been proposed by my members, either as something they want to learn about or something they are willing to speak about. Its pretty informal, in that I just ask people what they are interested in or listen for conversations that sound like they would like to know more about a topic, either I or other members don't know a lot about. We have quite a few new users or folks exploring the products for the first time, so a lot of our presentations are Beginner to Intermediary Levels, at both a user and an Admin level. We do one or two Advanced topics a year, but they draw a smaller core group.
I start off with asking for topics from our users. I might get 1 or 2 a year that way.
But for the company user group, I currently pick all the topics. I rotate between tools (Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket). I do some internal topics that merge how the Atlassian products were used on a software design project, TAM presentations, App Vendors. And then I look at the support tickets we get and pick topics that cover where a lot of questions/cases come in.
I have gotten to where I have a decently long list to pick from. I make sure to have a couple very simple presentations and a couple advanced and then the rest are in the middle. But all the topics are from the standpoint of an end user getting benefit out of the tools.
I usually reach out to Solution Partners to provide a couple topics each year as well so the presentations can be spread around a bit as well.
Hi! If I were looking for a direct way that being a community champion has helped me in my career, I don't think that I would be able to find an example. However, it has helped me in many indirect ways. I get a chance to be exposed to a lot more environments, problems, answers, ways of working than I would have been exposed to just by my own work environment. I have a group of people I can bring questions to, that is larger than just myself, so I have widely increased my opportunities to learn and be exposed to different ideas and ways of approaching a problem. It's made me a more educated, well rounded person, in ways that I can apply to my job and career. Its not necessarily made me rich and famous though :)
I was selected as one of the initial Champions, to help the community when it launched 2 years ago, because I was involved with the User Group Community.
How has being a community champion helped you in your career? How did you get selected for that?
By answering users questions I learn more. Sometimes when I get stuck I reach out to an Atlassian Support or @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ who come to the rescue very quickly. Learning from the experts definitely empowers me and let me give better suggestions to my stakeholders.
I thank my great friend @carolyn french who introduced me to the "champions" world, explained to me the rules, then I went from there.
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