Northeast PA User Group Was Not Dead–Just Cocooning
December 13, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The members of the Northeast Pennsylvania Computer Users Group (NPCUG), which is located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and which is a long-time user group devoted to the AS/400 and its successors, met in November and came this close to shutting down. But rather than do that, its 20 members have decided to transform the organization into a broader user group to server the IT community of that mountainous region of the Keystone State.
Jim Flannery, a senior systems analyst at Convergys, a customer relationship management software provider that does work with AT&T Mobility, is NPCUG’s most recent past president, and he says that back in November the user group had a near-death experience. The cost of maintaining a Web site and doing other miscellaneous activities was eating up what little dues the organization had.
Flannery did not have any precise figures for membership at NPCUG when it was an AS/400-only group, but back in the early 1990s the membership fluctuated between 100 and 200 members. “We have some pretty good attendance over the years,” Flannery recalls. But since the mid-1990s, the size of the group has been shrinking for a variety of reasons, mainly because it was increasingly difficult to get speakers from IBM or experts from surrounding AS/400 shops to tell their stories and it was equally difficult to get members to find the time to attend. It didn’t help matters that large numbers of companies in Northeast Pennsylvania moved off the platform in the past decade, either.
“The pool is shrinking and there is less and less interest in an AS/400-specific group,” Flannery explained to The Four Hundred last week in an interview. “The plan now is to convert it to a true and broader computer user group that includes the iSeries.”
Charles Prothero, the chief information officer at Keystone College, in nearby La Pluma, Pennsylvania, has taken up the challenge of revitalizing the user group. Prothero has temporarily set up a Web site for the group at http://web.keystone.edu/npcug/ and has also created a Facebook page for the group right here.