Ontario Progress User Group
Ontario Progress User Group: Transitions
It's a blurry memory, but I remember the very first meeting of the Ontario Progress User Group ONTPUG that was held in late 1991 (or early 1992). It was a humble beginning. There were 10 or so of us standing in a large room (in the head office of Dataphile), each with the desire to start a group that was focused on the needs of the Progress Software user community in Toronto.
There were two attendees from Progress: Peter Vincent (head of sales for Canada) and myself (I was in presales). I believe that was the night we also elected Don Thompson as the president of the Ontario Progress User Group.
From this humble beginning, the user group grew to be the largest Progress user group in North America. At it's peak (around late 1992) the user group had as many as 125 people attending in person (while other Progress User groups had a hard time getting as many as 40 to attend).
Why did the Ontario Progress User Group become so successful?
I believe it's because I worked closely with the president Don Thompson to ensure that we adhered to two basic principles.
First Principle: Give Users a Reason to Attend
I've seen other user groups who try to adhere to a monthly or quarterly agenda. That was never our approach. I worked closely with the president of the Progress user group to always ensure we had a compelling agenda. I ensured that any resources required from Progress were supplied (e.g. a speaker, a projector, or money for pizza, etc.). Only THEN did the invitations go out.
Second Principle: Close Partnership with the Vendor
I worked with Don Thompson to ensure that we tracked all the potential attendees in a database. I also promoted the user group to new customers whom I came in contact with. I worked hard to ensure everyone was notified (by fax and phone) about the meeting (back then very few people had email).
At one point, the Ontario Progress User Group was going so well that the sales people at Progress Software felt comfortable enough to invite a few select prospects to the meeting. This was a successful strategy because the prospects didn't know much about Progress Software, but if you put them in a room with 125 other people they quickly warmed up and got the sense that they weren't taking a big risk by choosing a vendor that wasn't well known.
Jim Smith Becomes President
I left Progress Software in late 1992 to join Powersoft, and some time later Don Thompson stepped down as president. This is when Jim Smith became president of the user group. I thought Jim did a fine job of getting people to attend and keeping the momentum. At one point, I even believed he topped our earlier record of 125 attendees! But not everyone was comfortable with his approach. It seems the country manager for Canada didn't agree with the direction Jim Smith was taking the user group and effectively cut off any Progress Software resources for use with the user group. This was a shame. Jim Smith put a ton of time into keeping it going. I believe he's still bitter about it to this day.
Progress Business User Group
After Jim Smith removed himself as the president, the user group tried to resurrect itself as a "business focused user group." This effort failed, for the most part (judging by the lame attendance).
Tim Kuehn Becomes President
A few years ago, Tim Kuehn became president of the user group and I'm happy to report that it has regained much of its former momentum. He's done an excellent job of marshalling the necessary resources from Progress Software to ensure successful meetings. He also implemented a Web-Ex-like "virtual meetings." While I'm not a big fan of these, I recognize the fact that it saves a boat load of time for people because they don't have to travel (or pay for gas!).
Email Patrick Lannigan at lannigan at gmail dot com for more information
This page was created and/or refreshed on May 23, 2013 @ 19:07:36
by Patrick Lannigan (or one of his cronies) in Markham, Ontario, Canada
The page subject is: Ontario Progress User Group