Lessons Learned From Being Part of the Sitecore MVP Review Process

Each year, thousands of applications are received from those wishing to become a Sitecore MVP. Current Sitecore MVPs volunteer to do the initial review of these applications, which helps the Sitecore MVP team finalize all reviews in a timely manner. Today I'll share some of my experiences and provide some tips to those interested in applying next year.

What is the Sitecore MVP Program?

You can read all about the MVP program on their official site, but it boils down to recognition for those who contribute to the community in a few different ways. There's perks to receiving MVP Award, such as recognition for your hard work, early access to products, exclusive access to forums, discounts to conferences, and an invitation to the MVP Summit (Fun!).


Supporting Each Other

This year I participated as a mentor in the Mentorship Program. How this works, is current Sitecore MVPs contact the program to volunteer, and are paired with those who are seeking to get their first-time award. Meetings are set at a frequency that works for everyone, but it's usually a couple times a month.

During this time, we review the mentee's plan for contributions to ensure they hit all the marks needed to be awarded MVP (more on this below). Usually, the first couple of meetings will be the heaviest since we want to ensure the applicant is on the right path, by either identifying too much contribution in only one area, and/or not enough in another. Later, we act as sounding boards for new contribution ideas and provide feedback.


The Review Process

This was my first year being part of the review process, which was an eye opener, since I found that I had made some mistakes even with my own application after being part of some internal discussions.

To participate, you contact the program and indicate that as a current MVP you'd like to sign up. After this, an email is received with all the information needed to participate. I won't be including screenshots of this process as it's clearly not meant to be shared.

The first thing we do is log in to the MVP Review portal, where a list of applicants which are assigned to you are shown. These people are not currently MVP, as those who are, will skip this initial review stage.

After choosing to view an applicant's submission, the first thing you see what they wrote for the year's summary, under the area “Eligibility”. This is a good starting point, as people want to tell their story in their own words. The Objectives for next year is also displayed here, as well as the name of the mentor they had, if any.

Under this general area there is a list of contributions, which fall under categories such as:

  • Blog Post
  • Bug Report
  • Social Media
  • Video
  • Speaking
  • Feedback
  • and more...

Each contribution is reviewed and graded for their quality, quantity, and visibility along with some short notes that other reviewers can read (there are about 4 per applicant). We can also have real time discussion and feedback on the process in a private Slack channel.

Regardless of the quality and quantity of the contributions, if there's only one category used, it's not going to be a good sign. I'll explain, as this has penalized myself as well in the past.

An applicant's contributions must be diverse, spanning across many categories.

  • Content - Blogs, Videos, Podcasts, White papers, Case studies, Open source modules, but even long format Questions and Answers on StackExchange.
  • Engagement - Social media, Community forum, Slack, Discord, Telegram, StackExchange, Reddit, etc.
  • Public Speaking - Sitecore User Groups, SUGCON, Symposium, corporate events (DX, Experience Day, etc.), industry conferences, webinars.
  • Feedback/References - Support tickets, Product feedback through MVP channels or to PMs directly, beta testing products and trainings, customer references, Customer Success Manager recommendations, Partner Advisory Council or Customer Leadership Board attendance.

So, even though someone could have 5 public speaking events, which is in my opinion the most effort of all above, we need to see things spread out.


My Advice for Applicants

To ensure a smooth application, I would suggest some of the following.

  • Plan your contributions early - Even if you just have the idea, observe its category, and set a date to start preparation. Some items like public speaking must be planned early, unlike a blog post.
  • Don't wait until October - Since the applications must be complete in November, we see someone who has done nothing all year, then suddenly, bam. 5 blog posts. Your contributions need to show you have some spirit about all of this, and that it's a year-long effort.
  • Find those potholes of contributions - After your contributions are planned you should go back and see where you have gaps. You don't have to hit every mark, but as I said, diversity counts.
  • Enter your contributions throughout the year - You can fill out your MVP application and revisit it as often as you want over the year to update it. Make that your single source for everything you've done.
  • Make sure your contributions have evidence - So many times, we are asking each other, how do we know this happened? Someone claims they spoke at an event but there's nothing online to support it, and they just have a photo of themselves outside the event. It must be more than that.

Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list. You need to build your own strategy, but I hope this helped.