Last month in Switzerland, the local ForgeRock Users Group gathered in Lausanne. Alban Meunier, the event’s organizer, discusses the event with us and provides guidance for others looking to organize a User Group meeting.
FR.org: Thank you for organizing the recent ForgeRock User Group meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is the second year in a row that you’ve organized such an event. How would you feel the event went, and what has changed from last year to this year?
AM: The idea of a local ForgeRock User Group was born from a discussion around eGovernment with two different public administrations. Both had similar concerns, including having an OpenAM subscription, but both had the feeling they could get a better experience discussing with other ForgeRock users inside and outside public administration.
Last year’s meeting in Geneva was the first occasion to discover other local projects, other constraints and other usages of ForgeRock products.
As voted during the meeting, we started an initiative for better collaboration with a LinkedIn group, but it’s not as active as expected (23 registered members and 1 contributor)
This year in Lausanne, it was the occasion to have a larger audience, so it was the opportunity for new experiences to be presented and a lot informal discussions could be initiated.
We also invited Belgian people interested by organizing a ForgeRock User Club in their country. I wish them to succeed!
FR.org: What format did you follow for the event?
AM: The format is simple and takes a full day:
- The morning is about a roundtable discussion between the participants, plus each new member must give a 10 minute presentation on their project. Returning members can also provide a project update if they desire.
- The afternoon is more about exchange with ForgeRock team members, and discussion on one subject (this year it was: how to share code on ForgeRock).
- Several breaks give a great occasion to exchange experience.
It’s a free event, except the food. The room is gracefully loan by one different member each year. As a local event, there is no big cost for travel and accommodation, so every one can come even in a cost saving context.
FR.org: Do you feel it was effective? What was the response to the event from the attendees?
AM: The most important criteria is the quality of the audience: only real users can be members and attend the User Group meeting! Having a subscription is not a requirement ;-)
50% of the contacted people attended this year and 20% had declined due to other constraints. But probably we could not contact all local users, specifically those who didn’t subscribe and do the project in total autonomy.
Because it’s a local event, there is no language barrier and no cultural gap, so it’s easy to break the ice and each attendee is immediately on-boarded with others.
After the first meeting, attendees reported they were more clear about the subscription pros & cons, and most of them contacted ForgeRock to subscribe. This was an unexpected side effect but it’s a signal of the professional grade feeling of ForgeRock products.
After the last meeting, attendees who appreciated having access to source code promised to make an effort to share their code on ForgeRock.org. They voted for new meeting next year in February.
FR.org: What was the biggest learning point for you from this event?
AM: The quality of the audience is a strong requirement. The user group is not a place for service providers; it’s a place for real uses made by real users. All participants can freely express they concerns and the more we can be, the more we can share value.
FR.org: How could ForgeRock support these events better?
AM: The participation of ForgeRock staff is very much appreciated. It is a good opportunity to have a review of the different ForgeRock products and roadmaps but above all, have direct contact with support, product manager and expose requests and claims as well. I hope ForgeRock could continue to listen what users are doing in the field.
But ForgeRock is invited by the user club and must not become the organizer.
FR.org: What advice would you give to other community members considering hosting a ForgeRock-oriented user group meeting?
AM: Be pragmatic, simple, transparent, and maintain the quality of the members to avoid having the user group becoming a commercial event.
The key thing is to just start a group and adapt it as you go. It’s good feedback for all participants to feel they are now active and no more passive users.
FR.org: Will there be another Swiss user group meeting in 2016?
AM: Yes. It’s planned for February 2016!
About Alban Meunier:
I starting working with Novell directories in 1994, I was always involved as IT consultant in mixed and complex environments but still focusing on LDAP directories and IAM solutions.
As a co-funder of SmartWave SA in 2000, I’m very concerned about delivering swiss quality IT services in a short set of areas like. I’m still active as LDAP and IAM expert and share my experience on every mission. People who meet me can easily recognize my picture with my suspenders. As SmartWave is using ForgeRock products internally, we can be regular member of the ForgeRock User Group.