GPUG All*Star 2019 Voting

This is not my typical #TipTuesday blog. I’ve missed the last 2 Tuesdays, and I promise to get back to a regular schedule by end of this summer!

In its place is my take on what I look for when considering who to vote for in the GPUG All*Star awards voting process plus a little bit about the difference between a Microsoft MVP and GPUG All*Star.

So, let’s get to it! It’s that time of year again – GPUG All*Star voting] time! First, here is some background information for those of you who may not yet be familiar with these programs and awards.

What is GPUG?

To start at the beginning, right from their website, GPUG is the “(Dynamics) GP User Group”, run by Dynamic Communities Inc. (DCI for short). DCI provides educational & collaboration opportunities via their various user group sites as well as running events for their user group communities.

Here is a pic of all of the user groups they run and manage:

What’s a GPUG All*Star?

Each community (User Group or “UG”) has their own All*Star program (at least most of them do!), and the program is the same or similar in each one: to reward and recognize individuals who have a passion for their product and have made significant contributions of their time to the community/UG. This is the definition:

The GPUG All-Star Award program recognizes GPUG members who have a passion for Microsoft Dynamics GP and have made significant contributions of their time and expertise to educate and connect the greater GPUG community.

GPUG website

The GPUG All*Star award recipients are nominated and voted on by community members annually.

The specific criteria on which the GPUG All*Star award is based is:

  1. Leadership – has dedicated significant time and expertise to educate the community and is an active participant in numerous GPUG activities.
  2. Passion – has demonstrated passion for teaching and sharing their Dynamics GP knowledge and experiences to help other users leverage their product investments.
  3. Resolve – has shown willingness to help others with their challenges.
  4. Advancement – has worked to pursue individual and organizational growth and development.

The voting deadline is August 30, 2019. The only 2 “rules” are you cannot vote for someone in your own company and you must be a current GPUG member to vote.

What’s a Microsoft MVP?

From Microsoft itself, here is one of their definitions:

The Microsoft MVP Award Program is a way for Microsoft to say “thank you” to independent technology community leaders who have demonstrated exemplary ongoing commitment to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft MVP Award team

What’s the difference between them?

There are a few differences, as much as the definition of what they are based on sounds very similar. Make no mistake, both are an honour!

  • Getting nominated & awarded:
    • GPUG All*Stars are nominated and voted on by their peers in the community.
    • Microsoft MVPs are nominated either by Microsoft or a fellow MVP/RD and selected by Microsoft program managers and MVP leads (all internal Microsoft employees).
  • Frequency of the award:
    • The GPUG All*Star award is a lifetime achievement award (meaning you can only be awarded once in a given community). It’s awarded annually, at GPUG Summit.
    • Microsoft MVP awards are announced monthly for new MVPs but once you’re an existing MVP, you are only renewed (or not) on an annual cycle on July 1st. MVPs must submit their contributions for review every year (to Microsoft) to be considered for a renewal award, kind of like putting your portfolio together to present to Microsoft.
  • Community reach:
    • The GPUG All*Star award is GPUG-centric, meaning the intent is rewarding a user’s involvement within the GPUG community, not so much for the involvement outside of the community per se (although that can be a factor).
    • The Microsoft MVP award is rewarding a user’s involvement in the entire community around a given Microsoft product or set of products & services, whether that’s within GPUG or outside of it.
  • Eligibility:
    • GPUG All*Stars can be anyone in the community, whether that be someone working for Microsoft, Microsoft partners & ISVs, independent consultants or Dynamics GP customer organizations.
    • Microsoft employees are the only people not eligible for a Microsoft MVP award, although there are many former Microsoft MVPs who now work at Microsoft (and vice versa).

I’m one of the lucky few who have been awarded both a GPUG All*Star award (last year in Nashville, TN) and a Microsoft MVP award.

Bob McAdam, myself and Lisa Lucas on stage at GPUG Summit 2018, receiving my award.

I feel quite honoured to be one of a very short list of those who have or had both at a point in time. There are 22 GPUG All*Stars so far, with 5 of us being current Microsoft MVPs and 4 more of the list being former MVPs, not to mention an impressive group of outstanding individuals who have contributed in various ways to the GPUG community over the years. I’m thrilled to be included in this list!

Why Vote?

If you are a GPUG member, whether you’re a User Member or Partner Member (partner/ISV/consultant), it’s a great way to recognize someone that has stood out for you in the community as going above and beyond the call. You may find you don’t know someone on the list, which is OK, you don’t have to vote for both a user-member and a partner-member!

What do I consider when voting?

Everyone is on the list because someone nominated them – or I suppose because they nominated themselves (although I hope that’s not the case, if you do good work, you will be recognized!).

While I don’t necessarily know all the User Member nominees, there are certainly several names that are familiar to me, having seen their contributions in the Open Forum or meeting them at a conference like GPUG Summit. Many names will be recognizable to those engaged in local chapters across the country & in the communities outside of the USA. If you see someone in your local chapter who consistently is giving back, please consider voting for them! In my opinion, those in the local chapters are often most overlooked since many users who are voting don’t know them!

When it comes to voting for User Members, I’m looking for people that have contributed regularly but I am often wearing blinders of who posts on the Open Forum unfortunately as there is no regularly active chapter near me. My personal criteria are to look at how they communicate as well, choosing to vote for those who make quality, meaningful contributions in their own way.

When it comes to voting for Partner Members, I have a different, higher set of standards that I’m (personally) holding someone to if considering voting for them.

  • I’m looking for quality vs. quantity of contributions. There are some people that seem to chime in on every post and that’s not what I want to see from a Partner Member. I feel very strongly that it’s not our place (as a partner myself) on a USER group to be answering every question. If you want to do that, go to the Microsoft community site and help answer questions there, where there are no such expectations that it’s intended for users to help other users. Partner contributions are always welcome there.
  • I’m looking for those who are consistently contributing, year in and year out. I’m not contradicting my statement above, I’m not looking at volume of contributions, I’m looking at consistency. I have been voting for the same one or two Partner Members for the past few years, alternating based on how they contribute in that particular year, because they are always there, either on the forums or at the conferences and they are consistent.
  • I’m looking for those who aren’t constantly pushing their own agendas, whether that be their product (for ISVs) or their services (for Partners & Consultants). The vast majority are respectful and abide by the guidelines, but there are always a few you can expect their answer to be a plug for their product or service. I’m a firm believer that if you are helpful without expectation of a sale, people will recognize that.

Every few years, there’s a trend in the GPUG Open Forum where one or more partners or consultants will seemingly answer every post whether it needs answering or not, without allowing users the opportunity to help each other. Every consultant can easily sit there and answer every question, that’s what we do, but it robs users of the chance to help each other out first. To me that feels like a blatant disregard for the spirit of GPUG and user groups in general: it’s a USER group, not a help desk. We seem to be in that cycle again, and it’s disheartening to see. For me, when I see that, I pull back from contributing because either (a) every question seemingly is already answered (but not always by users!), or (b) even if I do answer some people think it’s useful to pile on with no real added value. Those reading this who wonder why I’m not on the Open Forum much these days, that’s why. I’m choosing not to be a part of that and will wait for it to inevitably die down.

I am passionate about the community but also jaded in things like this. I recognize my place is to let users help users and pitch in when I see no activity or potentially when I see a thread going sideways with possibly inaccurate or misleading information. I will almost never comment on an existing post unless I feel the answers have been inaccurate or misleading or it’s the type of question soliciting a wide range of opinions (as opposed to a “how do I” kind of question). That’s how I operate, that’s not how everyone operates and that’s just fine.

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