Positioning Your Project for Award Success

Award submission layout

You’ve just completed a successful project. You can dust off your hands, finish the closeout 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. A potentially award-winning project! We should really get some recognition for how awesome we were on this project!”

Building an award-worthy project and actually earning awards for your effort are two totally different things.

Below we break down the best ways to position your project specifically for award success.

  1. Plan ahead. 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. 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 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.
  2. Go the extra mile. During the project, go the extra mile. If it’s a partnered project, don’t just have an informal partnering process – 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 making this point to subcontractors, stakeholders and project team members can make the difference between a project being shortlisted and winning.
  3. Take photographs. This may sound obvious, but almost every submission for every award now requires multiple (usually 8+) high resolution, high quality photographs of the project and 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. You may not notice this when reviewing your photos, but a selection committee sure will.
  4. 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 recognising those areas. If you can’t write a convincing argument why your project should win the award, you shouldn’t be submitting to it. And 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.
  5. Know the deadlines. Some award submissions can be thrown together in a week. The majority, though, require a little more lead time. 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.
  6. 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 those that do are a result of pre-planning, follow-up throughout the project, and a solid, original write that catches the attention of the selection panel. 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!


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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