DrupalCamp Bristol 2016 - Chairman's Write-up
DrupalCamp Bristol 2016 was held over this last weekend, and I hope I'm not the only one to say it was an enjoyable and very useful weekend for many. Although there were a couple of usual hiccups, feedback from attendees was very positive and certainly made it all feel worthwhile. Let's hope that wasn't just the beer talking!
Last year I wrote up some tips and feedback after the event, and as the Chair of the DCB Committee I thought it would be great to share my thoughts again this year. After all, Drupal as a community is based upon being open, so behind the scenes camp organisation should be too!
What went well?
Let's start of with the positives:
- Business Day - In general the Business Day was a fantastic success. We had an increased number of attendees this year which included a larger number of client types, the talks were well varied and lived up to the high expectations set last year, and our new venue - Colston Hall - was a fantastic choice. The weather was brilliant and attendees were able to chat with each other outside on the roof terrace which was a great feature.
- Quality of Saturday talks - I'll give a bit more insight into the talks shortly, but this year we managed to put together a larger number of talks without sacrificing any quality. Last year almost all of the talks were of a technical nature, but this year we managed to get a better variety which is the first step to brining in newer faces.
- Sponsors - This year we completely changed the Sponsor tiers up, allowing us to reduce the number of agency types involved. We had 4 key Organisational Sponsors, a Recruitment Sponsor, and a couple of "Brunel tier" Sponsors, which was well received. I think I'm correct in saying that most of the Org Sponsors have an existing relationship with the Recruitment Sponsor, so we were able to pick somebody we trusted for the exclusive Sponsor role.
- Quiz - This year we ended the Saturday talks at 3.30pm and finished with a Quiz instead for a lighter end to the day. Admittedly the questions were a bit hard and in some cases....different, but the teams soon began to laugh at it and with a load of prizes to give away it was a win-win situation for everybody!
- Social - We invested heavily in bar tabs both Friday and Saturday, with a total of £1K budgeted between both evenings, and this was definitely worthwhile. For the Business Day attendees the socials are where the networking is most prominent, and for developers the socials are where most people really seem to bond. Personally I think the relationships which are forged at the socials are key to ensuring the regular faces return each year, as this is where you get a real sense of community and team spirit.
- Sprints - We held a day of Sprints for the first time and we had to stop ticket sales as this had reached maximum capacity. Thanks to Torchbox for letting us use their offices for this one.
- Use of Slack - The committee was much more dispersed this year, but using Slack as a communication tool made things much simpler and ensured the remote factor didn't play against us.
What didn't go so well?
There were a few things that concerned me, and although some where event specific I think there's some wider problems that are becoming apparent in the Drupal Community. I'd be really keen to hear how we as a community can go about improving these:
- New talent is lacking - It was great to hear during Sheena Morris's Apprenticeships talk that agencies in the North and in London have adopted their Apprenticeship program so well, but Saturday's attendees showed that there is a huge lack of new Drupal talent. Emma Jane won "Learning Drupal 8" during the Quiz which was kindly provide by Inviqa, and gifted it to the person in the room who was newest to Drupal. The person in the room with the least Drupal experience had just less than 2 years!
- Female speakers are sparse - Speaker diversity is a problem which isn't new to us, and this year we only had one female speaker per day. What's troublesome about that is that we didn't have a single talk submission from a female to choose from; it was committee members who sourced both of those speakers.
- Last minute program changes - I guess this one is unavoidable, but 3 speakers dropped out of Saturday within a week of the event, and upon arriving at the venue on Saturday morning we were told the main lecture theatre was out of use and we had to direct talks to another lecture theatre. Typical! It would be interesting to know how other camps deal with this; maybe we shouldn't include the Saturday schedule in the printed programme, but instead ensure attendees use the website as the primary source of this info?
Camp Funds, DCB 2017, and the Committee
We've estimated an income of £11K this year, with expenditure of just short of £10K. We started the year with a cushion of approximately £4K from last year's camp, which gives us around £5K to rollover. I personally think it would be great to invest some of this into the local Drupal community, perhaps sponsoring more regular talk nights and Sprints? I'd be interested to hear of any suggestions - tweets to @DrupalCampBris.
The committee will be having a wash up meeting over the next week to discuss next year and see what we can do to improve the event, but I can guarantee you DrupalCamp Bristol 2017 will certainly be happening. Organisation will begin again later this year, and as the committee is always in need of new members we'd be interested to know if anybody new would like to join the team? Again, simply tweet @DrupalCampBris if you'd like to get involved.
Finally, I'd like to take this chance to offer up the Committee Chair position as I've decided to take a step down to a more back seat next year. I've thoroughly enjoyed leading the team over the first 2 years, but I think it would be good to see somebody else step into the role next year.
A massive thank you to everybody who attended, thank you to all the Speakers who volunteered their time over the weekend, thank you to all the Sponsors who made the event possible, and a huge thank you to all the committee members for pulling everything together and making the event a success.
See you all next year!