Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How to win a Lotus Award


By David Gewirtz

As the filing deadline for the 2009 Lotus Awards approaches, many companies providing Lotus-related products and services are working hard on their applications. Winning a Lotus Award is always a boon for a Lotus business partner, and it's especially so in our challenging economy. I've been a judge on the Lotus Awards (and before that, the Beacon Awards) for more years than I care to count.

"Here are the first three things you can do to get eliminated quickly."

Each year, we see a few stand-out submissions, a few middle-of-the-road submissions, and a few companies who seemed to just "phone it in". Each year, some of the applicants seem to go out of their way to not win an award. If you work for a Lotus business partner and want to make sure all your hard work isn't recognized or appreciated, there are some simple tricks you can follow, and I'll discuss them in this article. I'll also discuss what it takes to win.

To round out our discussion, I asked some of the other award judges, including DominoPower Senior Technical Editor Mick Moignard, who's also judged the awards many times, to share their thoughts on this topic.

My judging process

While at the top end, the quality of the submissions are excellent, I'd like to see the bar raised and, hopefully, convince more companies to really prepare their submissions for the Lotus Awards. In particular, my personal hot button is I like to see the solution -- either a video or an actually login account to see the work in action.

I've been a technology editor for decades now, which means I've done my fair share of product reviews. I approach Lotus Awards like I do product reviews, and it's a pretty efficient process.

The first thing to realize, like with product review submissions, is that there are a lot more submissions than I have time for. I, like all of the other judges, am exceedingly busy. We all donate our time to the judging process and none of us appreciates having our time wasted.

To reduce the time impact, I put the applications through an almost instant elimination process. This takes about ten minutes for the whole portfolio of submissions and if you don't make it through this filter, you're not even going to get a vote. Here are the first three things you can do to get eliminated quickly:

  • If you don't have a live demo, or at least a screencam demo, you're out. Period.
  • If you don't have any references, you're out. Period.
  • If your submission is clearly in the wrong category, you're out. Period.