Meeting folks who use and implement CiviCRM - face to face - is stimulating, challenging and just plain fun.
I spent last week in New Orleans at our Boot Camp, at NTEN's NTC
and at Penguin Day
- and came home tired, a few pounds heavier (good eats in NOLA), and vowing to make these opportunities happen more often!
NTEN Affinity Group
Thanks to Judy Hallman's hard work and useful "pushing" - there were two specific CiviCRM events at NTC - an "Affinity Group" and a lunch "Discussion Table". The Affinity Group was well attended - especially given that it overlapped with NTEN's Day of Service and before many folks had arrived for the main conference. There was a good mix of folks from non-profits of various sizes and types, a few integrators and several folks who work for other eCRM platforms. However, none of the attendees were actual users - and the planned agenda was focussed on user sharing and Q & A. We did a quick re-boot and managed to give folks an overview of CiviCRM features.
Several people expressed doubts about using an open source solution for their organization (one person even using the phrase "deathly afraid"). They raised particular concerns about support ("who do I call when something goes wrong") and technical resources required for installation, configuration and maintenance. As options for paid support become more available, and the ecosystem of solution providers grows - these concerns should diminish. However, for many organizations a fully hosted (ASP) solution is the only realistic answer.
A highlight of the meeting was Greg Heller's "show and tell" of several CivicActions
CiviCRM implementations. Seeing CiviCRM "in action" really helps folks understand some of the power of the platform and the advantages of tight integration with a CMS like Drupal. John Kenyon
also spent a few minutes describing his training sessions for organizations using or preparing to use CiviCRM.