Each year for the past few years the PASS Board of Directors has conducted a Q&A session with members at the PASS Summit. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I thought it was important to hear and answer questions when I served on the Board, and it’s useful as a member to ask questions in front of the entire Board. It’s a different dynamic than you get when emailing a question, or even asking it one on one, it becomes part of their shared experience and that can shape things in good ways. It’s also good for the members that are able to attend because they get to hear thoughtful and often impassioned questions from other members, and I think they often find that they answers given are reasonable. I think the Board doesn’t do as well about following up on the questions that aren’t fully answered, something I’ll be looking for when I review the results of the Q&A this year. It’s an incredible opportunity for dialog and I wish the Board would do it more than once a year, maybe a “town hall” early in January or February after new Board members are seated and priorities are being set.

You can see the questions from previous Q&A sessions on the governance page, or just jump directly to the 2013 Q&A minutes.

Here are the questions I prepped to ask (knowing that other meeting attendees will ask some of them, so I have extras).  They are written in the order of the notes I had, not in the order of ‘most important’. There is a separate BA meeting this year and some of these might be better answered at that meeting. I’m not at the Summit this year, so if you’re attending and think any of these are worth asking, please do!

  1. The Summit location has been confirmed in Board minutes for 2015, 2017, and 2018. Can you confirm that Seattle will be the location for 2016 per the comment from Bill Graziano at the Q&A last year? As a follow up to that, when can the members expect the Summit to be held somewhere besides Seattle and how will that selection process work?
  2. Will the BAC always be held in California and why isn’t it held in Seattle instead?
  3. Andy Leonard asked last year about having a budget summary prepended to the annual budget to help members understand changes. That was not implemented for the FY2015 budget. Can we expect that to happen for the FY2016 budget?
  4. What is the total set aside for “finance reserves” at present and how much has that changed from the amount in reserves last year?
  5. The volunteer portfolio has been disbanded for the second time and it was noted in a blog post by Thomas LaRock that the volunteer responsibilities will be shared by the Board. Does the Board believe the needed work for that portfolio was completed? If not, what work remains to be done and what goals are being set to complete that work?
  6. Why are virtual chapters and chapters two portfolios instead of one? Wouldn’t it serve the members better to consolidate those and maintain the Volunteer portfolio, or perhaps a membership portfolio?
  7. Is there a plan and commitment to fix voter registration/qualification prior to the CY 2015 Board election?
  8. The BAC seems to be struggling to find focus per the discussions in the 2013 minutes to date. What goals need to be hit to continue the BAC beyond 2015 (noting that dates have been reserved for 2016 and 2017 already)?
  9. Has the Board considered replacing BAC with a BI Conference, something that Microsoft held several times with good success?
  10. This year the Board announced that “SQL Server” would only be used as part of the PASS name when legally required and the minutes preceding that announcement contained the statement that “the legal name no longer reflects the mission, membership, or direction of the organization”. I have a three part question?
  1. If the legal name doesn’t reflect the mission, membership, or direction, why not change the name?
  2. Was this change made to alleviate concerns from BAC attendees or potential attendees that it was a “SQL Server” event due to it being hosted by PASS?
  3. Does the Board believe it acted in the best interest of its members by making this change and what if any input did the Board solicit from members prior to making the decision?
  • There has been much discussion about the “BA community”, yet PASS seems to struggle to identify influencers for the BAC, has not driven the expected growth of the BAC, and there seems to be little activity to grow BAC chapters or SQLSaturday events. Does the Board believe that grassroots efforts are important to the success of BAC and if so, what steps will be taken prior to the 2015 BAC to grow the grassroots portion of the community? What goes have been set for BA Chapter growth in 2015?
  • Many Board members seem reluctant to communicate via blogs or Twitter due to concerns about their NDA and the language in the by-laws that only officers can speak “officially” for PASS. Is the Board considering issuing any guidance that would allow Board members to speak publicly about their portfolios and their participation in Board discussions?
  • The Board posted goals for the portfolios for 2014. With several portfolios changing owners, can we expect to see a summary of goals met/not met for those that are changing and for the remainder at the end of the year?
  • Is the “speaker bureau” project still on the active list and if so, when can we expect it be completed?
  • The selection process for the Summit was criticized this year for lack of transparency and concerns about an officer being selected to a present a paid seminar (for which payment was declined). What changes can we expect in the selection process for next year to address those concerns?
  • Was there a final analysis completed of the 2013 Summit and if so, when will that be published? Specifically with regards to member, speaker, and sponsor feedback, costs, and logistics.
  • I have the perception that the Board doesn’t think any public disagreement with decisions is fair given that they are volunteers. Is that a fair perception? Does the Board believe it is effectively engaging with those who take the take to voice an opinion, even if the opinion is critical?
  • What does the Board think of what has been written on the PASSWatch blog?
  • Can we get the numbers for how many meetings were held by each chapter and how many attendees were at each meeting for CY 2014? How many chapters were added or lost this year?
  • PASS has had a number of security incidents this year. What plans does PASS have for a comprehensive security review in CY2015? Is there budget to support that effort?