What is a better way to recognize excellence than organizing an award program? 

An award program not only rewards individual achievements but also helps build a community for shared interests and sets a benchmark for the highest standards. It is important to support your industry’s excellence while achieving high exposure for your organization.

How is data important for enhancing your award program?

  1. Informed Decision-Making: Gathering your own data on candidates helps in making an informed judging. It ensures that the selection process is based on quantifiable achievements rather than subjective data. The data you collect may include key performance indicators, business metrics, success rates, or other measurable outcomes that demonstrate the impact of the nominees’ work.

  2. Benchmarking for Realistic Evaluation: You can use data to establish benchmarks or performance standards within your fields. By comparing nominees’ achievements against these benchmarks, you can identify exceptional individuals or organizations that stand out from other nominees.

  3. Identifying Trends and Patterns: Analyzing data from multiple awards editions can reveal some trends and patterns. This analysis can provide insights into emerging innovations, prevailing challenges, and evolving best practices, allowing the award program to adapt and remain relevant over time.

  4. Feedback and Improvement: Data collection can include feedback from participants and nominees. Analyzing this feedback can help your award programs identify areas of improvement. These surveys can include questions on the application process, learning experience, communication effectiveness, …etc. This data should help you improve to better meet the needs of future candidates.

  5. Enhanced Transparency: You can build trust and credibility for your program by sharing relevant data with the public. This can demonstrate that decisions are based on measurable criteria and rigorous evaluation. For example, sharing participation numbers and demographics, evaluation criteria, reviewers’ profiles, application distribution in various award tracks and domains, and winners’ profiles.

  6. Data-Backed Communication: Using data to inform award communication messages and marketing activities can increase effectiveness and relevancy to the audience. You can highlight previous achievements and quantifiable impacts of past winners. Using this information in the award program messaging can attract more relevant candidates and sponsors. 

  7. Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics is a branch of data analytics that makes predictions about future outcomes using historical data combined with other tools. Such as statistical modeling, data mining techniques, and machine learning. In awards management, it can be used to predict future trends and identify candidates with potential for outstanding performance. This proactive approach can lead to the discovery of hidden talents and innovative projects that might otherwise be overlooked. 

In order to make the best use of the previous data activities, you need to identify your program’s objectives and KPIs. 

Let’s look at the steps you need in order to set up your award program for being data-driven. 

Steps to A data-driven Award Program

1. Defining the purpose of your award program

Setting clear program objectives can help you systematically collect, analyze, and interpret data to evaluate your program’s performance.

It helps to make your objectives clear and SMART. For example, let’s say your award program has two objectives: 1. Capture the highest number of initiatives, and 2. Support the most impactful ones. Some SMART objectives could be: 

1. Reach a number of 1000 applications in 3 months. 

2. Shortlist 20 high impact initiatives, and give funds to three winners within six months.

The above objectives are easier to track and provides clear idea of the metrics you need to measure.

2. Identifying desired outcomes and goals.

Next, you can set the KPIs to measure your objectives. For the above objectives, your KPIs could measure the following:

1. Number of website visits.

2. Total number of submissions and the number of nominations that meet the minimum eligibility criteria.

3. Impact score for shortlisted initiatives.

4. Winner selection to funds transfer duration.

Notice here that we created a metric called impact score to quantify the impact of initiatives. The impact score can combine impact-related metrics with weights according to your organization’s definition of impact.

Here, the objective could be to fund the top 3 initiatives with an impact score of 8.5 or higher.

3. Establishing key metrics for evaluation

Collect the necessary data to correspond to your KPIs, for example:

1. Website traffic data: By tracking your award website traffic data you can ensure you are meeting the traffic objectives. It can also help you take the necessary corrective actions during the open applications phase. 

2. Nominations impact data: Whether you are planning to use the application form data or public information, make sure the data you collect corresponds to the impact score metrics you previously defined. 

Since you have more control over the data you collect in the application form, make sure to ask all the questions relevant to the impact part. For example, how does the nominee measure impact? What is the benchmark for similar organizations? How much exposure do they have among your target audience?… etc.

4. Setting up data sources

Data sources can differ for each metric. You can use Google Analytics for the website data integrated into the program dashboard. 

The application form is your main data source for the impact metrics for nominees. You can manually collect data through their website and social media, check their reach, video views, audience feedback, …etc. 

To measure program performance, you can use post-program surveys to get feedback from participants, judges, and other stakeholders.

5. Drawing Insights

The data you collect informs decision-making as you run the program and gives insights for the next program editions. 

As the applications are open, make sure marketing data reports the expected number of traffic. The traffic converts into program registrations, or otherwise you may need to adjust your campaigns. 

Also, as you start receiving registrations, check the relevancy and eligibility of nominees.

Finally, surveys and feedback should inform what went well and what needs improvements for future editions. This takes us to the final step, reporting. 

6. Reporting

With comprehensive reporting and documentation of your program outcomes, you empower decisions for your future programs. Reporting should include an overview of your program numbers, objectives, KPIs versus real outcomes, etc. For the qualitative part, you need to document the lessons learned, corrective actions, and future improvements.

In conclusion, utilizing data is becoming necessary for awards programs to grow at a healthy rate and in the right direction. Effective utilization of data can inform program planning, outreach, monitoring and evaluations, as well as decision making. It is not a simple task to start leveraging your data power. However, the good news is you can start small now and scale later.