Purchasers join forces to manage Olympic risk

5 March 2012

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6 March 2012 | Adam Leach

With fewer than 150 days to go until the London Olympics, procurement chiefs from organisations affected by the Games have been collaborating to manage the potential risks.

For the past two years, the Government Olympic Executive (GOE) has been bringing together the heads of purchasing from organisations such as the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), Transport for London, the Greater London Authority and local authorities in the capital to share information and work through issues, such as getting enough security guards.

Phil Cholewick, head of supply chain management at the GOE, explained to SM he set up the Cross Programme Procurement Group (CPPG) shortly after he took up the position in 2009 on secondment from his role as deputy commercial director at the Home Office.

“It set out to basically exchange information across the Olympic partners and to set out two things,” he said. “First, to look at managing risk and second, that in terms of procurement, we would be delivering value for money across the bodies.”

The size and scale of the Olympics - the non-construction spend is well over £1 billion - and the immovable deadline means the operation is unique. “That puts a dynamic around it and increases the tension for everybody,” said Cholewick.

The need to increase the number of security guards working at the Games by up to 20,000, which could have a knock-on effect on supply and demand elsewhere in the market, is an example of where the group has got together to discuss the potential impact.

“Security guards is a big one at the moment. There was a requirement, the security people reviewed that requirement and the number went up,” Cholewick added. “That meant we all had to work together to make sure that there were security guards around to be able to provide that.”

The CPPG has also worked closely with industry bodies to inform them of their requirements as early as possible and to check that there will there enough certified security guards available during the Games.

“Clearly, 2012 is not a usual year so there will be more demand than supply ordinarily can provide, so that’s why we have worked with industry by providing them with as much forward information as we can,” he said.

Sharing information also enables the group to gain greater detail when assessing supplier capabilities. “We’re able to say: ‘Look, we’re all using company A. Can company A really do this or is it just [subcontracting it]? How will that work?’” said Cholewick.

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