The SPS Warsaw 2019 is over. It was held on 6th of April 2019 in Warsaw, Centrum Prasowe Foksal (Foksal Press Center). Event was planned for nearly 200 attendees, from which we had a pleasure to host over 100. It was my first time organizing this kind of event, although not the first, when speaking of conferences. And for sure not the last. However it was very special to me. Why?

I first met Edyta in November 2018 (like had time to talk longer, as we already knew each other form conferences). Well, fact is she wrote to me after reading post on my blog about user adoption. That time I was already convinced that I wanted to do much more for the community besides posts and other online activities. So when she asked if I’d like to co-organize the SPS with them (her and Marcin) I immediately answered “of course!”.

Small steps

Working for community is not meant to be done for money. It’s done for satisfaction. Therefore this cannot be anyone’s primary activity, that usually is working for money. And so was in our case. All work we were doing was after hours, during weekends, or prior to approval from our customers, that we can do in during working hours.

December

As the month started we decided to have couple of meetings. Their outcome was a decision, that this year we want to make three tracks, dedicated to end users, power users and developers. We also decided, when should the conference take place, so that it wouldn’t collide with any other European SPS’es nor any major, important conference across the world, like Ignite, MVP summit, Collaboration Summit etc.

SPS Warsaw announced at SPS Events web page

We also immediately set up Sessionize profile and opened call for speakers and were impatiently waiting for first submissions, that appeared just after… several hours. First submitter was Marco Rocca. Day after Sasja Beerendonk, Patrick Guimonet and many others!

SPS Warsaw call for speakers on Sessionize

It just escalated soo quickly! 🙂

January

January was almost fully dedicated for organizing basics – searching for the venue location, filling up SPS Events web site with contents, creating Eventbrite profile for tickets.

So by the end of January we had already date for the conference confirmed, official web site was already online and informative, call for speakers and sponsors were on and we were collecting sessions’ submissions from all over the world. We already had like 110 sessions!

We were also discussing the location. We had a set of our favorite locations. Spread across Warsaw. From top-notch places, to a very cheap ones. The key to choose one was a relation of three key factors: location, quality and… price.

February

During the February we started to think about something awesome to honor and thank our sponsors and speakers for their support and presence.

We also reached the end of our official call for speakers time, closing it with almost 120 submissions!

March

In the beginning of March we already had almost a hundred of attendees registered!

Over 100 attendees registered in the beginning of March

During the March we were finalizing our secret speakers’ dinner and souvenirs.

We wanted to invite our guests to a place that is very Poland specific and unique, so that the would both enjoy their time with us and learn something about the country they are in at the same time. We decided to invite them to a new museum on the map of Warsaw: Polish Vodka Museum. Also, to craft there special gifts for them:

Gifts for speakers: personalized hip-flasks!

The call for speakers ended in March and therefore we were able to meet and discuss who would we like to invite. Oh man, the choice was very hard! We had submissions from all over the world, from the famous MVPs and also speakers, who were not yet known, but wanted to try. Also, we wanted to have some sort o parity and permit all Polish speakers to attend.

In March we were also finalizing all discussions with companies that expressed their will to become our sponsors. In the end we had seven sponsors:

Once every nominated speaker confirmed his presence, we met for like 3 hours to discuss how the agenda should look like. This wasn’t the easy job either. We had to fill in 3 tracks and managed to include to platinum sponsors’ sessions. We finally decided to limit sessions to 45 minutes, make 2 coffee breaks (but longer, each had 20 minutes to allow networking), lunch and finally – SharePint. The final agenda looked as below:

By the end of the March we had over 200 attendees registered what was very good, having in mind that this was a free event held on Saturday. And the weather in the beginning of April was beautiful in Warsaw. We counted to have around 50% of them.

Attendees registered day-by-day

End of March was a very busy time for us – we had to finalize all talks with the Polish Vodka Museum about the sightseeing tour, dinner and gifts. We had to decide about the menu, both for the dinner and lunch during the event. We had to discuss distribution of seats, sponsor booths, roll-ups, banners, electric outlets (!!!) with the Centrum Prasowe Foksal staff. Fortunately they were very helpful and supportive in all our ideas so it all had to go well.

April

That was the time we spent for all that was left regarding organization. Finishing touches. Delivering all items to the venue location, then preparing the place to host all our attendees and speakers.

On 5th April speakers’ dinner took place. Everyone had a wonderful time learning about Polish vodka history, tasting it their selves and finally having a dinner with classical Polish food with Warsaw touches!

Unfortunately we had to leave earlier from speakers’ dinner and work until late night and then arrive to the venue location at 7am next morning.

Then on 6th of April it all paid off! First attendees started to appear just around 8am! That day we counted over 100 attendees what met our expectations, but also somehow exceeded them. We were very happy being able to see so many satisfied faces.

Today we can say, that all we wanted to prepare for you we managed to prepare. Agenda was full of awesome presentations, the lunch was really tasty and no-one was hungry. Raffle prizes were satisfying. I personally would love to win that Lego VW Beatle myself! 😊 SharePint went also fine, there was enough beer and wine for anyone who stayed that long to experience closure of the conference!

Like literally, event was just perfect.

Final words

The conference was made by the community and for the community. In my opinion it had everything a good conference should have, even those commercial, organized by companies doing this professionally. There are several things that can be fixed or adjusted for the next year, but in general, we did a very great job!

I would like therefore to thank again all our Sponsors:

But also SPS Events for SPS Warsaw web page, European Collaboration Summit for two free tickets and Microsoft for support.

I would very much like to thank all our speakers for their presence:

I would also like to thank very much:

And last, but not least, my wonderful organizers team:

There are no such words I can use to express how fun, pleasure and satisfaction it was for me to be a part of the team and to organize SPS Warsaw 2019.

See you all at upcoming conferences! I will be attending the European Collaboration Summit and later speak at SPS London with Edyta. Stay tuned!