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Pre-note: when I use the word I, it’s Paul, and when I use the word We I mean your Agile Coach Camp team.

As a final wrap-up to Agile Coach Camp, we’d thought we’d share some of the thoughts in planning and in particular our budget and choices in expenditures. We hope this will prove useful to those planning their own Camp and provide a level of transparency we hope others will follow suit. It allows you to see our thought processes and debate our choices if you decide to set-up a Camp or similar unconference.

First we established a prioritized backlog of things we needed; basically just a list of items in the order of importance to make the Camp as successful as possible:

  • Team – people who are willing to help you with a myriad of things
  • Venue – you have to have a place
  • Facilitator – someone to help hold the space open for the right dialogs to occur
  • Theme – something to create a draw
  • Supplies – stuff to capture information and for people holding sessions to use
  • Snacks
  • Lunch
  • Breakfast
  • Happy Hour Friday Night
    • We broke this down further into food, then libations.
  • Happy Hour Saturday Night
    • We also again broke this down further into food, then libations.
  • Swag
    • We elected for optional shirts at an additional cost.
    • Buttons – they were a big hit in Indy
    • Cushions – the seats we originally knew about weren’t cushioned
    • Stickers – something to decorate you space or computer with…

If we had gotten considerably more funds, we may have expanded the Saturday Happy Hour into a full blown dinner.

We had two additional side goals: be able to give some money to charity and be able to pay forward some amount to whoever runs the next Camp.

Starting with team, I reached out to Andrea; she had been to a couple of Camps and was local and someone I formally worked with… It’s always nice ot have an enthusiastic partner. We added to the team over time adding Brandon and Julie and then eventually Sean. Of course, we also considered our facilitator part of the team as well, but I’ll discuss that a bit separately.

Next up was Venue: we toyed with all sorts of things, perhaps taking over a vacant/gutted office floor (as long as it had power) as well some other places we had seen. Once requirement I stipulated was it had to have natural light. In the past we have had two Camps where the light wasn’t natural and they were both low energy. It was the only consistent correlation I could make – the facilitators, event, etc. were all similar. We settled on the Thurgood Marshall Center (Andrea had held an event there before); it was about as affordable as we could get for the size and availability possible. (DC venues are very expensive and most don’t have natural light.) Because of the decision to have this just prior to Agile2015, we elected NOT to have a separate, but related workshop event prior as it would be just a hugely long time for people (in the past we have had Games Days). We thought perhaps if anything we might have a half day afterwards (which we realized with Daniel Mezick’s OSA workshop). We toyed around with having only a one day camp or a two day camp; we settled on keeping it our traditional one and a half days. This meant we had to pay for two days of the venue: $4430 for the Center including all conference rooms and the basketball court.

Next up facilitator: I’ve been involved with most US Camps, the second Camp in Raleigh, we paid for the facilitator – she was very good. The next Camp after that, the wonderful Mike Sutton offered his OST facilitation services up for free just pay for his travel. That was the model we took for every Camp I worked with ever since which brought us Olaf Lewitz and Deb Hartmann-Preuss as facilitators. (I was not involved with the Atlanta, I think that Doc List was paid, but I am uncertain.) I had reached out early to Rachel Davies this time, but she wasn’t available. Andrea threw out a request to some OST facilitators she knew about and Tricia threw her hand up and I am so glad she did. We paid her a $200 stipend to travel from Pittsburgh to DC to help defray her costs. Hands down IMHO, it was the most value for money for setting up of the event.

She helped us set a theme: we toyed with not having a theme as one always emerges slightly different from any particular one set, but ultimately settled on one via a conference call late April. The theme: “Expanding our art to sculpt effective 21st century organizations” seemed to have been realized by the emerging topic dialogs very well. We had 3 that I noticed that emerged for improving our craft (in order of what I took away – YMMV): invitation to take the Agile Journey, improving our ability to communicate technical practices more effectively (and in particular their importance), and how to focus on overall organizational agility.

Next up was supplies – to include nametags, flip charts, stickies, markers, sharpies, dot stickers, and certainly other things I am forgetting at the moment. I was able to find a few threw various thrift shops (including half of the name tags); these aren’t in the charges. The rest were ordered from Amazon ($374.90) except for some last minute Index cards ($15 – which I still haven’t gotten around to paying her yet for it). We had left overs, these will support upcoming unconferences: agiledialogs.org and glasscon.org and meet-ups (DC-SUG, GALE, etc.); they will not be used for any standard conferences. If any still remain after these and the next ACC US is within driving distance of DC, I’ll offer to bring some to help reduce the costs.

Snacks were provided from two locations: Amazon (for all the gluten-free and vegan snacks and the gluten-free muffins for breakfast); these cost $389.35. The second set was picked up by Julie from CostCo consisting of sodas, pretzels, pita chips, and fruit and was $206.49.

Lunch was $1600.50 from Dirty South Deli; we wound up with more food than needed (better than not enough). We gave all the left overs to the Center for their tenants. Most of the sandwiches survived through Sunday….

Breakfast was $1160 for both days from Bread & Chocolate. Again we had left overs and these were given to the Center.

Going back to snacks for a bit – Ice Cream Socials are a typical Southern tradition and since everyone was south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it seemed fitting to have one. Ice cream itself would have been too messy, so I went with a local popsicle company I have adored since I first tried them: Pleasant Pops. The feedback I got was everyone loved them. I think it made for some pleasant convos and a raise in energy mid-afternoon. This cost us $466.25.

For Happy Hour on Friday, the intent of which is to let people get to know one another a bit before Camp, we didn’t have but about 32 respondents, so we planned for 40. We elected to go to Chinatown’s La Tasca based on the basement space. (I had lunch with a friend thought it would be good – I had hoped to have the whole space, but that would probably have wound up being cost prohibitive.) Another tidbit, for both happy hours, we elected to only pay for food and sodas, trying to get decent libations just was too expensive and even if we had, it still wouldn’t have been satisfactory for everyone. Cost was $2022 and I thought the service was awesome so that included about an additional $150 over the included gratuity. I was a little disappointed personally that no one took the invitation to do a lightning talk, but I embraced “whatever happens is the only thing that could have” and I am all better now 🙂

Happy Hour for Saturday was planned for 70 (I knew we’d lose some locals due to family commitments and driving). Lost Society proved to be a good spot. They worked with me on the amount to keep the costs right, but I think they underestimated a bit on the amount. I think it still made for a nice place to let people relax and chat further. (I know I really enjoyed my convos!) The service could have been slightly better though (I felt it was standard) so I didn’t add over and above the included gratuity. This cost was $2755.38.

Swag: buttons were a huge hit in Indy so I got a bunch again (we had a small amount left over); cost was $182.98 for $200. Stickers were $78.35 for 250. The seat cushions (which hardly anyone took x-| )were $256.27; when we first talked with the Center they only had regular metal chairs, we wanted to ensure some comfort, so we ordered the seat cushions. 150 was the minimum order I could make for these.

Miscellaneous: we hope to make a photo book for Tricia as token of our appreciation (please post links to photos!!!). I have $60 set aside for that to have it made and for mailing it. We also made a donation to AgileLib.net of $25 for their outstanding site. This is our second year using their event log.

In total our outlay is $14,222.37.

We raised $8355 form ticket sales and $5909 from sponsors. The reason for the odd number is Markus had bought us a ticket, then couldn’t make it so he paid the difference in what his ticket cost to the $500 donation. There was a pay forward of $2717.42 from ACC US in Indianapolis. Our shirt sales didn’t hit sufficient quantity for any discount and in fact due to taxes and shipping costs we lost $71.35. I attribute this to missing the last responsible moment to get these up for sale as I tried to find a way to add it on the EventBrite system as opposed to a direct Paypal payment. The purchasing window became rather narrow.

Our ‘revenue’ was $16,910.00.

Our current balance is $2287.93. We still have about 20 some people to pay for their Agile Alliance membership (which is why we asked questions about whether you were attending the conference or not as that paid for it already.) So we expect to pay forward $2087.93 for next year is currently.

Lastly, I have $1244.83 sitting in the Paypal account I set up for the event and $1490.32 in the NFCU account I set up for it. Some stuff has not been billed yet, so once that all comes in, we’ll be all square and I can pay forward the amount to the next Camp.

If you have any comments or thoughts, please drop a comment here, tweet to @acc_us (please also use the hashtag #accus, note underscore in account name) and/or blog post about it.  You have about 4 days to also post items on our AgileLib events log; this is truly important to us as well as photos.

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