Sunday 13 July 2008

UKOUG Paper Selection Day

UKOUG is a conference I am incredibly proud of, however it doesn’t just happen…

Last week was paper selection day, great fun but a great challenge. Large grids are placed on the walls with the number of streams available and what they are for across each day. Every submission is on a small slip of paper, with a reference number that relates to the extract and the judges comments which are held in binders. These were handed out to the 5 sets of people there for the day, EBS, Business & Strategy, BI, Server tech and Development. PeopleSoft, Siebel and BEA will be done later and our JD Edwards Community has their conference content on

So for the 5 streams we were selecting for submissions had been made from sometime in March and this year we had 694 submissions up 12% on last year. Then 189 Judges (thank you to all who took part in the judging), across all the different streams graded and commented on them. If you submitted a paper and are not successful it is more likely to be because there is simply not enough room on the agenda than because of the quality. Offer to present at the relevant SIG and get your name and ability known with the judges.

Although each submission has been graded, we have to look at getting a balance of papers, not too many from any one source, plenty of end user stories, established presenters who have their own following, new speakers we have seen at SIGs or other conferences and a balance of actual content which we feel covers what the members want to hear about. The people who take part in paper selection day tend to be SIG chairs and directors and as usual we are kept in line by James and the staff. Aimee was in charge this year and she is as scary as Rachael who was also there so we were kept on our toes.

The biggest issue is always the number of available slots, but we cannot add anymore into the ICC. In the UK this is the only real exhibition centre suitable for us and we have simply outgrown it. With every Oracle acquisition we stretch it even further; we are already looking at different options about how we can cater for everyone next year… any ideas?

So back to paper selection, the grids are populated with the little slips (lots of blue tack) and then each group does a sanity check for their streams, checking for clashes, flow of content and value to each group of attendees they represent. Then when all groups have finished we check again for clashes and flow, some really great speakers have submissions in multiple streams and we need to make sure they have not been doubled booked. Last job of the day for the volunteers is to write the introduction to their streams highlighting key presentations.

Then the staff transcribe the grids on the wall into the conference application, and begin the job of informing people they have been accepted or held in reserve. Some presentations have been selected with conditions, i.e. change of stream or title, two presentations combined etc and this too needs to be communicated. You will hear by the end of July if your submissions have been sucessful.

I was on the Business & Strategy group which includes Fusion Applications. Fusion Technology is now ‘business as usual’ so we will be highlighting any technology papers that are Fusion relevant.

It is very tempting to wander over to other groups and find out if your own, or colleagues or friends submissions have been accepted but I managed to hold off until after it was finished, I didn’t want to influence decisions.

So is that it all done now – NO there is a lot more to be done by the office and they will be busy all the way up to the conference. We kick off on the Sunday with meetings for volunteers and board members and by the time it finishes Friday we will all be exhausted. But then we have to start planning for next year immediately afterwards.

No rest for the wicked.

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