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What Do We Want from PASS?

By Steve Jones,

PASS LogoThe 2009 PASS Elections are complete, and we have 3 new board members. Congratulations to the new board members: Jeremiah Peschka, Thomas LaRock, and Brian Moran.

This election was a change from previous years in that the voting was done before the annual Summit. Typically I've scrambled to find some time during the Summit to vote, and haven't always remembered to do so. This year the candidates were a little more accessible electronically, with bios posted on the PASS site, and a great series of Interviews from Brent Ozar (Thomas LaRock, Brian Moran, Matt Morollo, and Jeremiah Peschka). The one with Matt Morollo was particularly engaging with lots of comments and debate in the discussion. It was a little controversial, and I think with good reason. It's worth a read, and it got me thinking about what we want from PASS, and what we want our board members to accomplish.

This topic has gotten me more than a little upset at times over the years and I actually blogged a bit about it today as well. I like PASS, have been a member since it was started in 1999, and think it could be a great organization for SQL Server professionals. "Could" is the important word because I think for much of the time PASS has been around, they haven't really accomplished much beyond organizing  a yearly conference.

So I decided to take a step back and ask: what should a professional organization do? What do we want out of PASS? What do you, specifically you, the reader, want or expect from the Professional Association for SQL Server? I'd love it if you readers that have never posted, or rarely post, would respond. I think sometimes the 50 most vocal of us end up driving things our way, and not necessarily yours.

In my career I've been a member of a few groups, IEEE, ACM, and Tau Beta Pi, in addition to PASS. I've linked in their benefits pages so you can see what they offer.  I also looked at what is offered by some other groups: ASME, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and The American Institute of Architects.

 Most of these organizations offer similar benefits: information (online books, magazines, newsletters), insurance, and networking. A few offer interesting benefits like salary surveys, billing/processing help, and discounts on other products or services. However most of these other professions aren't quite as wired as software professionals, so what should PASS do for us?

I don't have a huge list of things that I'd like to see PASS do, but I do have a few. PASS could offer do yearly, or even twice a year, salary surveys. Let us know where we stand in relation to others. We could see discounts for resources like books, or even online subscriptions. We talked about a certification a couple years ago, but that never went anywhere. However PASS could easily offer some resources to help people get certified, maybe even some coaching or discounted classes. I am somewhat stunned that there isn't some small discount for PASS members on the SQL exams from Microsoft.

Insurance, help for consultants, maybe discounted or expedited calls to MS support, all are things that I might expect from PASS. Or that I'd like to see them implement. With PASS finally showing some of their finances last year, and being in a more secure monetary footing, why shouldn't PASS offer some more reasons to join, and participate.

One last thing I think is critical, and I'd ask others to call for, is accountability from our elected board members. I think we deserve a specific 1-2 page report from each board member about what they did this past year. I know what a couple have written updates, but it seems that we have a lot of board members and not a lot obviously being accomplished. I think this ought be due every September 1, letting us know that the organization is truly working for its members. Interim reports every quarter would be nice as well.

Let us know what you think, and if you believe in an organization for SQL Server professionals, please add your opinion and thoughts.

Steve Jones


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