Friday, May 02, 2008

The Collaborative Experience

I wrote an article for my company's newsletter about my recent trip to an Oracle Application User Group (OAUG) conference in Denver. Since I put in the effort, I thought I would share!
The Collaborative Experience

Given the choice at a conference, would you attend the last presentation of the day or attend the open-bar happy hour in the vendor exhibit hall? The participants at OAUG’s Collaborate were recently given this option and you might find this hard to believe, but 108 of them chose to attend the presentation. Why did they make this choice? There were two factors that probably contributed to this. First, the happy hour timeframe extended for an hour and a half after the presentation ended, so there was plenty of time to enjoy that event. Second, the presentation was on Oracle Application Release 12. One of the overriding themes of the OAUG Collaborate Conference in Denver this year was R12. There were several presentations that focused on the new features of R12 and there were a handful of presentations with real-life experience. On the attendee-side, there was a general thirst for knowledge about R12 as corporations are creating strategic plans to implement or upgrade to R12.

“R12 Upgrade Project: An Overview of the Joys and the Pains” was the title of my presentation that I recently shared at the OAUG Collaborate ’08 Conference in April. The two goals of the presentation were to provide a general overview of the new features and benefits in the E-Business Suite in Release 12 and to provide a “Lessons Learned” from our recent upgrade project to R12 at Mate Precision Tooling. Gary Janas from Mate was my co-presenter during the presentation and was there to provide the client perspective of the project. Both of us felt that the presentation was a collaborative discussion between us and the audience. We were asked several good questions during the presentation and afterwards. We even learned that another corporation recently implemented the R12 Financial modules and his comment after the presentation was, “We had exactly the same experience. I felt as though I could have been up there presenting with you!” There was one major difference between our project and his. His corporation made the decision to retain the original Go Live date even though there were critical issues still being addressed in the system. We had similar issues on the Mate project, but through a collaborative decision with the Mate Steering Committee, we decided to resolve the critical issues and extend the project prior to establishing a go live date. Rarely do you have the opportunity to know what the outcome of an alternate decision may be in a project, so we were excited to learn the outcome of the other corporation’s decision to go live on schedule. Unfortunately for them, the decision lead to month end processing issues that made it impossible for the company to close their books for eight weeks. Gary and I found it comforting to know that we made the right decision to delay the project rather than move forward with the risk of being unable to close at month end.

In addition to presenting, I had the opportunity to attend several interesting presentations and enjoy the beautiful city of Denver. My favorite presentation was “Making It Stick – The Psychology of Using Words to Change Behaviors and Direct Decisions”. The information primarily focused on change management as it relates to the people during a project. It contained several good reminders that there needs to be focus on the people during a project. As for the fun things we did while in Denver, my two top things included attending the winning hockey game of the Wild vs. Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (they lost the next evening). The second favorite fun thing was going to dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant at 110 years old! It is also where Buffalo Bill used to eat! We had the option of enjoying rattlesnake and other tasty tidbits, but we opted to stick with the steak and we weren’t disappointed. The ambiance was interesting – let’s just say that a lot of glass eyes were watching us while we ate thanks to all of the taxidermy samples on the wall! Check it out for yourself at

Overall, it was a great experience to attend and to represent Traust at Collaborate ’08. Perhaps the most surprising thing of all was that even though there were over 7,500 attendees at the conference, I still ran into several colleagues that I have met throughout the years.