100 days to go until London 2012

18 April 2012
The stadium is built, the medals have been sourced and the horses have been benchmarked to make sure that no competitor gets an unfair advantage. In just 100 days, the London 2012 Olympics will begin. Of course, SM has followed the story as it has progressed, and I thought it would be good to reflect on what has come out from the marathon that has been procurement for the games.

Even before London won the right to host we reported the bid team was trying to learn procurement lessons from previous events, as they promised to drive economies of scale and hold closer supplier relationships.

With the embarrassment of other delayed and over-budget construction projects fresh in the memory, there was scepticism whether Britain could handle a project of this scale. But the size of the task did not appear to faze head of procurement at the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) Morag Stuart when SM caught up with her. With 1,000 days to go at the end of 2009 the progress was positive, even with the nation suffering the effects of the financial crisis. And the ODA’s efforts to procure the supplies and contractors required to build the infrastructure for the games – including the Olympic Stadium – saw them awarded the overall prize at the 2011 CIPS Supply Management Awards. It’s fair to say that in general, procurement plays a behind-the-scenes role in organisations. But not when it comes to the Olympics. Speaking at an event last year, procurement director for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) Gerry Walsh explained his team is right at the centre of operations. He told the audience his boss had said procurement was the “cornerstone of the commercial function”.

As characters in the sitcom Twenty Twelve - the BBC’s comic take on games preparations - delight in pointing out, sustainability is one of the key measurements of success for the games. One of the more eye-catching sustainability aspects was that guns and knives collected by the Met Police were melted down and put to good use in building the Olympic stadium.

And in keeping with the Olympic spirit, procurement representatives from public sector bodies, including Transport for London and local authorities, have been collaborating to minimise the impact of 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,” Phil Cholewick, head of supply chain management at the Government Olympic Executive explained to SM.
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