Positioning Your Project for Award Success

You’ve just completed a successful project. You can dust off your hands, finish the paperwork, thank the project team and move onto the next.

At some point it may occur to you that “Hey! This was a great project… we should really earn some recognition for how awesome we were on this project!”

Clearly and effectively communicating your expertise, execution and impact are critical elements to catching the eye, interest and selection of award committees.  Below we break down the best ways to position your project specifically for award success.

Building an award-worthy project and receiving awards that recognize your effort are two totally different things.

Look way ahead and start planning yesterday.

It’s not enough to have a great project, you need paperwork that proves it. Documentation of varying sorts is required for almost all award submissions. Unless you know in advance what awards you are intending to pursue once a project is completed and are working just to those specs, the best way to plan ahead is to keep documents on everything.


You may not know what you’ll need – even within some awards the requirements change year-on-year – so collect whatever you can early. Statements from project owners and stakeholders are not only easier to collect during and immediately after a project, they’re fresher too. Even if the award you’re submitting to isn’t due for another three months, assuming that everyone will be available and willing to help do award prep in three months time is risky. Gather everything you can, when you can. Think ahead.

Go the extra mile, or two.

During the project, go the extra mile. If it’s a partnered project, don’t just have an “informal” partnering process – formalize and document it. You’ll immediately qualify for more awards. Keep meeting notes. Write things down. Take the time to impart this philosophy to other project participants. It is to everyone’s advantage if a project wins an award and helping gain buy-in from subcontractors, stakeholders and project team members can make the difference between a project being overlooked or shortlisted and winning.

Take (a lot of) photographs of things that matter.

This may sound obvious, but almost every submission for every award now requires multiple high resolution, high quality photographs of the project and – this is quite important – the project team. Take them as the project progresses and take a lot – it’s better to have a lot of choice and be able to pick those photos most relevant to the award you are submitting to.

Remember: small details matter. For example, don’t include photos where team members aren’t wearing hard hats in a construction area and be sure to check every piece of exposed rebar for a cap. You may not notice this when reviewing your photos, but a selection committee sure will.

Choose your targets wisely.

Not every project can be submitted to every award. Think carefully about what you think made the project successful, and target awards recognizing those areas. If you can’t write a convincing argument why your project should win the award in a way that goes beyond “on time, on budget,” you shouldn’t be submitting to it. Accept which awards you can’t submit to. Even if you think your project had amazing partnering coordination, if the submission guidelines require a formal charter and you don’t have one, there is no point in applying. Understand the requirements and respect them.

Know the deadlines.

Few award submissions require minimal preparation. Most require considerable lead time for team interviews, data tasks and technical narration. Almost all award submissions will require you to gather together some documents or source responses from third parties, and expecting people to do this on a short timeline is unrealistic. Know when the submission deadlines are for the awards you’re interested in and plan appropriately.

Know your acronyms.

Get to know the awards universe. There are a staggering number of professional bodies that offer award programs, so simply applying to your local AGC chapter is keeping your field artificially narrow. Even small or new professional organizations have awards to distribute and most have a nominal or no application fee. Find those that are relevant to your project, make a list, and apply to as many as you can. You have nothing to lose and may end up winning an award from a technical group or a growing organization that will look fantastic in years to come.

Not every great project wins awards, but without planning and investing some time, your project can’t win, no matter how fantastic it is. Do the legwork and your chances of success are much higher. And remember: awards and accolades don’t just make your project look good, they make you look good – and could be the edge you need on that next project procurement!

Every year Amy Orr manages Mission Critical’s award preparation and submission efforts on behalf of our clients.  Her expertise in coordinating content and data development, ensuring compliance, and meeting deadlines is met with proven results.  Be sure to check out the results of her latest efforts on our News Page.

About Mission Critical

Combining technical expertise, fanatical creativity, and world class resources, Mission Critical writes, manages and designs winning responses to competitive CM@Risk, CM/GC, Design-Build, JOC and P3 procurements.

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