When most people think of Lotus, their minds automatically leap to Lotus Notes—or if they’re a bit more mature in their IT careers, perhaps Lotus 1-2-3. But Lotus offers products in addition to the core Lotus Notes/Domino product line, such as Sametime, Lotus Workflow, Domino.Doc, Discovery Server, and QuickPlace. You can list these products on your resume, but if you want to prove your product knowledge, you might look in to the recent group of Lotus certifications in the Collaborative Solutions path.

Lotus Certification

For an overview of Lotus certifications, check out this article.

What are Collaborative Solutions?
I’m sure somebody at Lotus received a pat on the back for coining the term Collaborative Solutions, but it is a bit nebulous. Basically, it’s a fancy way of referring to the products that help people work together and communicate. The core Lotus product, Lotus Notes, provides the groundwork. The list of previously mentioned products enhances the collaboration. For example:

  • Sametime provides a secure instant messaging platform for corporations. It mimics the functionality of AOL Instant Messenger but within the Lotus environment.
  • Lotus Workflow allows a workflow process to be easily designed for use within the Lotus Notes environment.
  • Domino.Doc provides a document management system along the lines of Documentum, but on a much smaller scale.
  • Lotus Discovery Server is a platform for managing corporate information and providing a portal for corporate users to easily access it.
  • QuickPlace is the Web-based solution for creating team workspaces for collaboration using Domino as the platform.

As with Lotus Notes/Domino certification, there are both system administration and application development paths to follow within the Collaborative Solutions track. Let’s take a closer look at each, beginning with application development.

Can you develop collaborative solutions?
Developing applications with any of the collaborative products requires an understanding of the underlying infrastructure (Lotus Notes/Domino). As with all Lotus certifications, you may achieve one (or more) of the following levels:

  • CLS—Certified Lotus Specialist
  • CLP—Certified Lotus Professional
  • PCLP—Principal Certified Lotus Professional

The exams on the application development track include:

  • Developing Instant Collaborative Applications with QuickPlace 3
  • Domino.Doc Customization 3.0
  • Developing Applications Using Lotus Workflow 3
  • Developing Web Application in Sametime 3

Passing one of these exams earns you CLS application development status. Passing any three of the exams provides the CLP level; pass all four exams and you are a Principal CLP.

To pass these exams, you must have thorough knowledge of the products, so reading a book and installing the product will not suffice. The exams blend real-world questions with concepts from the accompanying study guide on the Lotus Web site. The same approach is applicable to the administrative track, but the knowledge necessary to pass the exams is different.

Can you administer collaborative solutions?
Serving in the role of administrator for any application or platform requires a different set of skills from those an application developer needs. The administration of the Lotus Collaborative Solutions requires extensive knowledge of installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting the products. In addition, they run in conjunction with Lotus Notes/Domino (installed on a Domino Server), so base knowledge of the server platform is necessary for success.

The exams on the system administration track include the following:

  • Administering QuickPlace 3
  • Domino.Doc System Administration 3.0
  • Administering Sametime 3.0
  • Implementing Lotus Discovery Server 1.0

Passing one of these exams will earn you CLS System Administration status. To achieve the CLP level, you must pass any three; you must pass all four to become a Principal CLP.

You need extensive experience with administering these products before tackling the exam. Like the application development track, the tests rely on real-world knowledge blended with an understanding of the various aspects of the system.

Prepare yourself
At the time of this writing, the following exams are still in beta mode:

  • Administering QuickPlace 3.0
  • Developing Instant Collaborative Applications with QuickPlace 3.0
  • Developing Web Applications in Sametime 3.0

You’re given two hours to complete them, and they contain close to 100 questions. The ending date for the beta period has not been announced.

The normal, or gold, exams contain approximately 45 questions. You have one hour to complete each exam, and I’ve always found the allotted time to be more than sufficient. The questions are multiple choice, and some questions have multiple answers. The answers are often similar, so thorough knowledge of the material is necessary to make the correct selection. Check out the Lotus education Web site for more detailed information on exam objectives.

Is it worth it?
Holding a certification can be a valuable asset when you’re job-hunting, because it allows you to provide proof that you know what you are talking about. There’s also an element of personal satisfaction in earning certifications. I’ve often used my own certs as a personal gauge to make sure I’m staying current with the technology. These certifications may not catch the eye of every prospective employer, but they could be your ticket to landing a job in a Lotus shop that relies on these collaborative technologies.

How do you use these Lotus products?

Have you implemented a change to your workflow or otherwise saved time and money using any of the Lotus collaborative solutions products? If so, we’d like to hear from you. Send us an e-mail or post about your experience below.