The 2018 APICS Awards of Excellence deadline is fast-approaching, so I thought it would be useful to share some tips on what really makes an entry stand out. To do so, I first asked our judges what they’re looking for. Then, to get the inside scoop, I spoke with two-time winner Michael Morand, CFPIM, CSCP, CLTD, senior manager of supply chain at Johnson & Johnson. He wrote winning submissions for both the APICS Award of Excellence — Education and the APICS Award of Excellence — Emerging Supply Chain Leader.
Following are 10 things to keep in mind when completing your award entries:
1. Follow the directions. Read instructions carefully, and create targeted responses. Make it simple for our judges to understand why you deserve the win. Address the criteria point by point, and be sure any required documents and images are uploaded in the proper format.
2. Give yourself enough time. Writing an effective entry often takes longer than you think. It’s critical to approach things strategically. For Morand, the process was iterative, taking 4-6 hours in total to complete. “Prospective submitters and candidates should give themselves several weeks to finish an initial draft, solicit feedback and quantify any results,” he advises.
3. Solicit feedback. Although it’s probably best to have one person in charge of the actual submission process, crowdsourcing ideas for what and whom to nominate and the supporting evidence to be provided is essential. Morand notes that he budgeted extra time to hear from teammates and sponsors in order to ensure the inclusion, and accuracy, of key entry elements.
4. Showcase your most successful initiatives and individuals. When choosing what to submit, focus on what will impress the judges most. Compare initial objectives with results, and always try to be as objective as possible. It’s a good idea to involve the people who worked directly on the project or those whom you plan to nominate. “For both of our entries, there was a strong focus on the results my teams have delivered for our various partners and customers,” Morand says. “There was also a focus on demonstrating a certain consistency and sustained effort over time, as opposed to focusing solely on isolated events.”
5. Use supporting evidence to reinforce your claims. Providing context, background, facts and figures validates your entry with our judges. If you include charts and tables, be sure to explain what they represent. “For the APICS Award of Excellence — Education, I was eager to document and celebrate the contributions of our lean program all-volunteer team that has made a tremendous difference in the development and success of many of our colleagues,” Morand says. “Between the content development, training, coaching, and all the other activities that our team had led and invested their efforts in, there were a number of efforts and tangible results to highlight, which made writing the entry and highlighting the team’s efforts easy!”
6. Avoid PR speak, jargon and acronyms. Be honest, direct and clear. Don’t assume that the judges will understand the industry terms you commonly use. Keeping your language simple will make your entry easier to read and digest.
7. Be persuasive and passionate. Write in a way that demonstrates your own enthusiasm for the initiative or individual you are nominating. Use compelling words and an active voice. If you’re excited about it, chances are, our judges will be too.
8. Watch the word count. Our judges have a lot of reading to do; sometimes, the package I send for their review equals the page count of a few novels. Making their lives a little easier can only reflect positively on your submission. Get to the point, include only relevant information, and always remember that less truly is more.
9. Read, and read again. After you put together your submission, get it in front of the talented writers and editors at your organization. A fresh pair of eyes helps ensure the copy flows well, eliminate typos or grammatical errors, and fix anything that is unclear or superfluous.
10. Go for it! “When a colleague recommend I apply for the APICS Award of Excellence — Emerging Supply Chain Leader award, I was a bit hesitant at first,” Morand admits. “But I also felt that it was a good opportunity to reflect on my career to date. After drafting the writeup and reviewing it with a longtime mentor, I felt a tremendous sense of fulfillment from the exercise and was grateful for the opportunity — win or lose.”
The APICS Awards of Excellence are for corporations and individuals demonstrating superior performance and dedication to advancing the field of supply chain management. The deadline is May 31, 2018.