Many of you, like us at SSP, are planning to attend this year's Telvent User Group conference later this month in Fort Collins, CO. But how will you spend your time there? Here are a few tips to get the most out of your time at TUG:
Pre-plan using the agenda: Every year, Telvent publishes an agenda of the presentation options for days two and three of the conference. (Day one, everyone is pretty much locked in together.) You might as well get a plan together ahead of time.
Most conference attendees have some idea of what their utility needs most, or what implementations are possibly coming down the pike in the next year. Are you a Designer shop, or perhaps you need a new design tool? Then make sure you attend the various Designer sessions hosted by Matt Zimmerman, Duane Holt, and Danny Petrecca (or if interested in Designer Express, see the session from John Pavek.) If you manage fiber, likewise with the Fiber Manager stops. Etc, etc, etc.
This is about maximizing the return on investment in your existing systems and growing your GIS to be as productive and efficient as possible. There really are countless "secret" and "not-so-secret" tips and tricks discussed in these sessions. You WILL find yourself saying "ohhhhh... Now I get it." Who wouldn't want to come back to the utility back office a hero, armed with special knowledge that make your solutions hum like a well-oiled machine?
NOTE: If you haven't upgraded to v10 yet, be sure to visit the presentation by Brian Reeder from Coserv and SSP's own Skye Perry: "Upgrading to Arc 10: Avoid the Pitfalls, Reap the Benefits" on Thursday (Day 3) at 10:40am in Track 3 (Goldenglow room.) It's built to save you headaches!!!!
Know the new events: A number of new events have been planned this year. Here's a short list of new or semi-new stuff to look forward to:
Get out of your hotel room: Don't waste time sleeping in, going to bed early, or catching TV. This is a once-a-year opportunity where hundreds of your peers from across the country (and world) congregate! Aside from the formal gatherings and presentations, there are many informal get-togethers. From meals to bowling, happy hours to huddling in the corner during a break... there is almost no point between 8am and 10pm on any of the TUG days where there isn't something to do. If you're out and don't know where to go, ask around. If you like, ask me.
Network: Essentially, everyone at this conference either uses the same tools as you, or wants to help you use those tools. Pick the brains of other attendees. Get some informal free consulting from the variety of consultants and Telvent personnel that attend. Sit with new people at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make a goal for yourself - say, to make twenty new contacts that week - and stick to it. The friends you make now will help you become better at your job for years to come, by sharing information, ideas and solutions.
One of the best things about this conference is that while comprehensive, it still feels pretty intimate - you will see the same faces several times a day. This is a major plus, because it sets the right tone to have real conversations with your peers - you don't feel overwhelmed with the masses.
Here's a list of some sponsored social events that week:
Opening Night - Mon 2/27
Day 1 - Tues 2/28
Day 2 - Wed 2/29
Day 4 - Fri 3/2
A note for the newcomers: Introduce yourself to people. Start conversations with complete strangers. It's worth it. No one will bite your head off, and most attendees are there to meet new people and hear new ideas. Remember, you already have something in common with every other person there: Telvent.