Procurement is the 'cornerstone' of London 2012's commercial function

11 October 2011

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11 October 2011 | Adam Leach

The procurement operations of LOCOG are the cornerstone of all commercial activity and central to all of the group’s functions.

Speaking last night, Gerry Walsh, procurement director at The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), told an audience of buyers and business directors that his team plays a vital role in enabling the event to be delivered successfully. He said by buying well and keeping costs down, other departments were able to spend money where it is needed.

During his speech at an event jointly hosted by CIPS and the Institute of Directors, Walsh said vital to the team’s success so far were getting a strong, dedicated team of experienced procurement professionals; placing people in different operational units to increase teamwork and communication; and starting early with a clear strategy. He said that as of yesterday, LOCOG procurement was around 80 per cent complete and he expects it to be finished by the end of Q1 2012.

He also explained that the unique features of the Olympics posed some very specific challenges. For example, while he was able to attract a top team, it was a challenge: “The one thing you’re absolutely guaranteed of is being made redundant.”

The immovable deadline also creates an unprecedented amount of pressure so it’s vital any chosen supplier can deliver within the timeframe. Walsh also said some of the purchases the team has had to make have been taxing. “We had to buy 55 horses of equal ability, if a horse could jump particularly high, it just wouldn’t be fair.”

Describing the pressure and scrutiny that purchasing was under from the public and media as a result of the profile of the games, Walsh said: “The eyes of the world are upon us so we need to show that we are conducting a fair procurement process.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has praised the work of the LOCOG procurement team. They will be working on the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2016 Olympics in an advisory capacity.


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