28 April 2017

While on the road promoting the new 2017 application process, Jane Bond take a few minutes to discuss what makes a successful application.

Hi Jane, can you tell a bit more about your job?

I am VIBES technical co-ordinator. I work behind the scenes on the application forms, guidance notes and support applicants while they are writing their application. I also take part in the site visits, feedbacks and other planning activities.

What is the aim of VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards?

The awards aim to encourage the efficient use of resources, enhance the competitiveness of businesses, improve environmental performance and support the wider goals of sustainable development including social benefits through community and staff involvement.

What makes a good application?

A wining entry will have:

  • Senior management commitment and the involvement of all staff
  • Improvements that have environmental, economic and social benefits
  • Quantitative evidence of the benefits
  • Innovative ideas
  • The potential to make a good case study
  • Need to ‘stand out from the crowd’

What are the most common mistakes in applications?

The application form is our first contact with businesses. Some businesses fail to showcase their businesses. They do not tell us what is different, what is innovative about their business nor why should we choose them as a winner.

VIBES is a rigorous application process. You not only need to say “I am the best”: you need to back it up with some data. Graphs, figures, bullet points of key initiatives… businesses have to let us know how they are different from other businesses, what makes them exceptional.

Often good details are provided on the economic and environmental impact but limited information is provided on the social benefits being achieved.

What surprises you on the site visits?

The site visits are there so we can get more detailed information to justify the details provided in the application form and to be able to feedback information to the final panel.

Going on site visits, we get good and bad surprises. Some businesses claim on their application to be better than other products on the market, or have environmental benefits but do not have the studies or data to back this up. For us, it is really important that all information is justified. Tracking data and performance is very important for businesses as it will give them credibility.

On the other side, we are positively surprised to discover initiatives that businesses consider being “business as usual” whereas in many cases this can set the business apart from others . They should promote it in their application. Businesses should make sure all their environmental initiatives are covered in their application as it could be a missed chance to be shortlisted or a winner.

What final tip could you give us?

  • Take your time to read the guidance notes.
  • Have a look at the exemplar application form.
  • Identify the key points you should put in your application.
  • Back up your application with data, graphs, figures
  • Try and keep your application as clear as possible: use bullet points, space up your paragraphs, do not use a too small font size.

Application deadline: 5pm on 26th May 2017.

And if you are still in doubt: contact us by email (vibes@sepa.org.uk) or phone: 03000 99 66 99

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