Wanting to give yourself the competitive edge over your Project Management Achievement Award (PMAA) submission? Read our guide below for some expert advice.

While a great place to start your submission for the 2022 PMAAs is by reading our guide to entry and familiarising yourself with the steps to entry, we have prepared some top tips from a PMAAs judge to help point you in the right direction.

PMAA Deputy-Chief Judge Anthony Wood FAIPM CPPD recently presented a webinar entitled, How to nail your PMAA submission. Anthony Wood has years of experience in projects across a wide variety of sectors and has been a judge of the PMAAs for over 10 years. In the webinar, he went over some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Project Management Achievement Award (PMAA) submissions and offered advice to improve your submission.

Here are some key tips for your PMAA submission.

Choose your category carefully

The guide to entry stipulates the different categories available. Read over these sections again to ensure you have familiarised yourself with each category’s requirements. You may like to adopt a process of elimination and rule out the categories that don’t apply, until you reach the category that best aligns with your application. Be sure to keep the category description in the front of your mind throughout your submission, to make sure you have covered the necessary requirements for that category in your submission.

Focus on excellence, not expectation

It’s already expected projects are delivered on time and on budget. Judges are wanting to look beyond this, and for applicants to demonstrate how they dealt with challenging circumstances. Remember, it’s about excellence in project management, not expectation in project management.

Ask yourself, what were the extraordinary challenges in the project and how did you deal with those?

Break it down

Nobody likes reading large chunks of text. To ensure clarity and flow, break large chunks of text down into smaller paragraphs, which will be easier for the judges to read, and ensure your submission omits unnecessary filler. Even if a section is 800 words, avoid making one large paragraph and break it down into digestible chunks. Remember, concise narratives work better than lengthy paragraphs. Helen O’Neill, the Australian Institute of Project Management’s (AIPM’s) Content Marketing Manager, says “a great example of breaking text down into easy-to-read chunks is this blog you’re reading right now”.

Keep it relevant

Remove anything that does not address the judging criteria. Filler will not get you anywhere, and the lack of relevance may cost you something. On your hard copy you can tick off each piece of judging criteria you have covered. If when you get to the end, there is criteria left unticked, go back and ensure you have addressed the missing pieces.

Make it about quality, not quantity

Submissions are not a competition to see who can write 500 words, it is about what you write within those 500 words. Be sure to include details and explanations, as the submission with the greater detail is more likely to win than the submission with less detail. Judges are looking for you to demonstrate substance in your answer.

Use narrative flow

All good stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Much like any piece of writing, you want to ensure your submission flows smoothly between sections, making the most of the submission structure being split up into sections with individual word counts.

Judges are looking for how you have achieved excellence throughout multiple stages of the process and building your story in sections is an important part of conveying this message.

Draft your submission

Don’t write your submission directly into the submission platform. Use a platform such as Microsoft Word or a similar tool which has an in-built spellchecker, to ensure you limit grammatical and spelling errors, and can continually refer to your submission before it is finalised. A few typos won’t fail your submission, but due to the high competition, those small details may differentiate the winner and runner-up in your category.

Write like a journalist

Consider reading over Paradigm Shift Magazine for an idea of the writing style for your submission. While you may not have much journalistic experience, it’s important to write in a clear, concise manner, avoiding excessive acronyms and technical jargon. If the judges cannot comprehend what you are saying, it may be hard to award the points you may deserve.

Helen O’Neill also suggested, “If you aren’t feeling confident about the quality of your writing ability, look to a colleague in your communications, content, marketing, or media team to assist you. They are used to producing public facing content and will know how to craft your messages. If you don’t have anyone on your internal team, you could always outsource it to a freelance writer.”

Read over everything

Anthony recommends printing off a hard copy of the guide to entry, which will allow you to make annotations to the document. Use coloured pens, pencils, highlighters, and markers to make note of key information and to refer to easily. Using colour as a visual cue can help you to remember important pieces of key information in the document, keeping these at the forefront of your mind as you write your submission.

Have someone else read your submission

While reading over your submission repeatedly will help you to catch any additional errors once you’ve finished writing, it can be helpful to have someone else read over your submission. Consider asking someone from your office that is a detail-oriented person. Someone with high attention-to-detail skills will be able to look through your submission with a fine-tooth comb, picking up errors and inconsistencies that you may have missed, ensuring everything flows and is logically structured.

Applying for an individual award?

Focus on what you have done to make you stand out from others – what makes you so unique? Explaining your unique skills and experience you have brought to the project will help set you apart from other applicants. Another important point is to align your submission with your AIPM RegPM™ (registered project manager) certification level. AIPM offers multiple levels of RegPM™ certification, and the individual PMAA categories align to project professionals of different levels. if the alignment is not there, you may need to rethink your category.

Hurry, submissions close on 6 July

Creating a PMAA submission is your first step to gaining professional recognition, increasing morale in your team, and enhancing your organisation’s positioning in the project profession. With these key insights, you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning submission. Submissions close on 6 July, so don’t delay creating your entry to the 2022 Project Management Achievement Awards (PMAAs).