The last couple of years have left TheUserGroup.org with a stronger relationship with Infor, a higher profile as a distribution thought leader, and several Special Interest Groups that are shifting their day-to-day to work to a broader, more strategic focus.
My term as TUG Chairman has gone by in a blur, but as I look back over the last 24 months, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve all achieved together.
Infor Partnership Delivers New Enhancement Request System
All relationships take work, and the partnership between TUG and Infor is no exception. We’ve been paying a lot of attention, Infor has, too, and I really think the relationship is stronger now than at any other time since I became involved with TUG about a decade ago.
We communicate clearly, honestly, and frequently. Infor executives are very responsive to our needs. And TUG is fulfilling its role as a vehicle for the user community to speak to Infor as one, rather than 450 disparate voices belonging to different companies.
The new Enhancement Request System that Infor released at TUG Connects 2016 gives our Special Interest Groups a direct conduit to Product Management, enabling us to make the case for the features we need to move our businesses forward. It’s taken a lot of time and effort to get this done, and it’s a huge milestone! Until now, it’s been very difficult to track enhancement requests once they were submitted. Now, anyone can log in and get a clear picture of a request’s status, who thinks it’s a good or bad idea, and whether it’s getting any traction at all.
That’s just one example of what happens when a user group like TUG and a company like Infor can build open, transparent lines of communication.
Thought Leadership: Focusing on What’s Next
It’s been very important to me to build TUG’s standing as a distribution thought leader. TUG members all operate in different industries, but at the core, we have a lot in common as distributors, particularly as distributors of a certain size. Our executive track at TUG Connects has helped our members focus on what’s next. As a result, I think many of us are running better companies than we may have been two or three years ago.
The executive track covers a mix of different topics, but succession planning is a great example of a big, looming issue that many of our members haven’t had time—or made the time—to properly address. All of our employees want to know their jobs will still be there when the owner decides to retire, so we should all be trying to train our replacements. The reality is that none of us is indispensable, and it’s up to us to make sure our companies continue to thrive when we pass the torch to the next generation.
In addition to the executive track, we’ve held some useful webinars on how to set up training plans and mentor tomorrow’s leaders. And we’ve been practicing what we preach, working with our SIG leaders to improve their presentation skills. Leadership development has been a major theme for us across the board, and I would expect to see that continue.
Special Interest Groups: Changing the Conversation
The last couple of years have seen a few of our Special Interest Groups shift their work and develop beyond a narrow niche, focused on a particular product. The Storefront SIG is a great example.
Storefront is still one of our most important groups, but we’ve also seen members form an e-Commerce SIG to look at the wider universe of platforms that interact with our back-end ERP systems. And it’s amazing to see how that has changed the conversation: Instead of talking about where a particular widget should be on a Storefront page, it’s all about how we move our businesses forward in an e-commerce world.
In much the same way, the EDI SIG has morphed into the Business Process Automation SIG, moving beyond its earlier, more narrow focus to talk about how we automate our business processes and minimize the number of touches on every transaction. Because fewer touches means driving costs out of our businesses and making them more profitable.
It all adds up to a pretty good return on your investment in a TUG membership.
Lots to Look Forward To
I’ll be staying on the TUG Board as Past Chairman, and I’m looking forward to contributing over the next two years. We’re very fortunate that Don Green is taking over as Chairman—he’s a high-energy guy, he’s just full of great ideas, and he’ll be backed up by a good, solid board filled with very bright people.
My company will still be heavily involved with TUG because it’s a great resource that brings value to the business and value to our people. Really, I struggle to picture where we would be today without the user community to support us.
David White is about to finish his two-year term as Chairman of TheUserGroup.org. He is President of Kyana Packaging Solutions in Louisville, Kentucky.