As the time comes to consider your entry for our awards, Sue Copeman answers your questions

Around this time of year, when readers are thinking about preparing their submissions for the StrategicRISK European Risk Management Awards, they often contact the editorial and events team with questions relating to their entries. So we felt it would be helpful to give the answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Q: Which category should I enter?

A: This is probably the most common enquiry, because entrants often find that their achievement during the year overlaps several categories. For example, you may have put together a bespoke team that provides a superlative training programme. Should you enter for the European Risk Management Team of the Year or the Best Risk Training Programme award?

The answer is – both. Having said that, although each entry will probably contain similar core material, the focus needs to be slightly different to bring out your strengths in the relevant category. Our awards brochure gives guidelines here.

It is worth entering more than one category if you feel this is appropriate. There is nothing more disheartening than to hear the judges comment that an entry would probably have justified an award if it had been entered in what they feel is a more relevant category!

Q: We've achieved a lot over the last year but much of this is the result of a programme that we've been putting in place over several years. It hasn't just been executed in the last year so do we qualify to enter?

A: Our judges are risk management professionals who know all too well that Rome wasn't built in a day! An ongoing programme initiated several years ago that has produced measurable benefits in the last year certainly qualifies. But the reverse is also true. Entering on the basis of something that has just been introduced, but whose benefits cannot be measured because it's at such an early stage is unlikely to justify an award.

There have been instances of someone designing a programme, product or service during the year, which appears to be excellent but which has not produced any tangible benefits simply because there has not been time for it to do so. This is disappointing for the judges, who often remark that they hope these entrants will re-submit next year. Sadly, many don't; they feel there's no point as they've already 'lost'.Timing is important. It's the year of achievement that matters rather than the year of the initial blueprint.

Q: I work in a company whose headquarters are based outside Europe.

But we're a multinational and our achievement has had significant impact on our European subsidiaries. Are we eligible to enter?

A: This is a difficult one! The answer has to be that, if you have significant holdings in Europe and can demonstrate that your particular initiative or solution has had a major impact on them, you are eligible. But you may need to work harder in your entry to highlight the significance of your achievement for your European companies and their involvement.

“It's the year of achievement that matters

Q: I submitted an entry last year and didn't win. Since then, we've developed our initiative further and achieved more but is there any point in submitting another entry?

A: The answer here is an unequivocal 'yes'. You may have been outvoted last year because you failed the timing test (see answer to second question) or because your achievement at that stage failed to match that of the winner in your category. Also (see answer to first question), reconsider the category(ies) that you entered and possible expand them. But if you are re-entering, you will need to show that your work has moved on in the last year. Please don't be put off by a previous failure. The number of entries in each category is generally high, so anyone who makes it to the short list has done extremely well!

Q: Can I send back-up material to reinforce my entry?

A: You need to refer to the awards brochure for this. Service or product providers are encouraged to send backup material including testimonials. But if you are entering the section one (risk manager) awards, you would do better to encapsulate any additional relevant material within your entry.

Q: What value will I or my organisation derive from winning an award?

A: Well, it's good to know that you're doing something really well for a start! But if you need convincing, here are just a few of the testimonials from last year's winners:

'We were delighted when we found out that we had won the award for Best Loss Prevention strategy this year. In the early stages of our strategy it was difficult to see the gains being made. The award helped us to highlight just how far we had come with the strategy and the impact that this had had on our claims results and culture. The award also generated a significant amount of recognition within internal and external trade press, which was great for boosting morale.' Jenny Ladkin, National Express StrategicRISK European Risk Management Best Loss Prevention Strategy 2007

'The 2007 Award for European Risk Management Team of the Year meant quite a bit for the 'ABC'-Team (ABC stands for Audit, Business Continuity and Compliance) at Qimonda. It provided credibility to our activities, and motivation to the employees showing that risk management adds value to the processes of an organisation and indeed to the organisation itself.'

Steven Bechhofer, Qimonda AG StrategicRISK European Risk Management Team of the Year 2007 'Winning the StrategicRISK award has given us stronger credibility inside our organisation and allowed us to develop our work. Further, since winning we've been asked to give several external presentations on professional issues.' Sophie Echardour, Unedic StrategicRISK European Risk Management Best Risk Management Approach in the Public Sector 2007

'Winning a prestigious StrategicRISK award and thereby achieving recognition by a jury of internationally respected experts of the risk community, created unique credentials for our initiative and significantly helped buy-in of new concepts and practices in the central banking sector.' Jean-Charles Sevet, European Central Bank StrategicRISK European Risk Management Enterprise-Wide Risk Programme of the Year 2007 'This award has been extremely well received within my company and has been perceived as an official recognition of the relevancy of our risk management approach.' Franck Baron, Firmenich StrategicRISK European Risk Manager of the Year 2007. What more can I say but – good luck!