London Olympics 2012 should be a Showcase the UK Construction but Companies are Under a Publicity Embargo

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Paul Naybour
Paul is a project management consultant and account manager with particular expertise in the analysis, process development, and implementation of change program management, risk management, earned value management, and bespoke project management training development and delivery. Paul is the Business Development Director of the company Parallel Project Training

The London 2012 Olympics and Para-Olympic Games show the UK construction industry at its best. It has delivered what many other countries have failed to do, fantastic Olympic venues, open on time and to budget. Even the transport system is performing well. This is not by luck, but  the dedication, leadership and hard-work of all those involved in the London 2012 Project, from the senior executives at the Olympic Delivery Authority to staff at Transport for London.  They all deserve our recognition and support. However the companies involved are under a publicity embargo until 2013.

London 2012 demonstrates first class project management

The Association for Project Management has done a good job of working with the Olympic Delivery Authority to capture the legacy learning from the project. The “doing the basics well” message is coming across loud and clear. Denise Hone, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery summarises these key lessons as

  1. Apply rigorous project and programme management.
  2. Use a combination of vision, ambition and conviction to lead from the front on key issues such as health and safety.
  3. Get the right people in on the project. We had to trust the delivery partner to bring expertise in when needed in areas like planning and construction.
  4. Set a realistic budget. We looked at what happened in Athens and Sydney to set contingencies. Also make sure all the monies go in on day one without recourse.
  5. Put detailed planning up front.
  6. Spend time on issue management and apply robust risk management and project controls throughout
  7. Remember it’s a team game.

Now is the time for UK PLC to capitalise on this success and sell our project management services to the world. However the companies involved in the delivery of the games are under an embargo until 2013, they cannot use any the 2012 success as part of their marketing material. This included great British companies such as Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and Carillon and consultancies such as Arup and WS Atkins, to name just a few of the many hundreds of suppliers involved. These are great British brands that should be making the most of their contribution to the games.

Capitalising on the success of London 2012

John Armit the chairman of the ODA has written a report a Global Showcase for UK plc – in which he calls for these marketing restrictions to be lifted with immediate effect.

His recommendations are:

1. Government should adopt the principles of the procurement and programme management for projects and use a balanced score card incorporating factors such as sustainability and health and safety not just cost and time.

2. UKTI should establish a task force of contractors who worked on London 2012 to target overseas opportunities.

3. Government and business organisations should make sure that SME’s a fully aware of the support available when working overseas.

4. A range of marketing tools should establish to help organisations involved in building the London 2012 games to promote themselves in the market.

5. Government seek to ensure that the restrictions on marketing that apply to London 2012 suppliers are removed as soon as possible.

6. The tendering network CompeteFor should be retained for future contracts.

7. The website used to capture ODA legacy knowledge should be contained and expanded.

8. The learning from the games should be integrated with in education programmes.

In particular we feel the marketing restrictions that apply to those construction companies involved in the games should be lifted as soon as possible. This would enable these organisation to market their capability around the world. This is especially important give the economic conditions facing the UK construction sector. The UK construction sector is undergoing significant decline, with construction turnover down 5.2% over the last quarter. With a forecast to shrink by another 6% fall over the next 18 month, as further spending cut feed into public construction. The only bright spot is the continued growth in rail projects with the investment in Crossrail and spending by Network Rail on improvements to the national infrastructure.

Export Led Recovery for the UK Construction Industry

UK PLC has delivered London 2012, despite the expectations of many in the media. It has demonstrated the competence, capability and teamwork required to deliver a high complex and challenging project. The UK construction industry faces a bleak future and needs the support of the UK government to deliver an export led recovery. John Armit’s idea for a small task force is exactly what is needed, but the time is now not in 2013 when the world has moved on.

Read more about maximising the return from the olympics for uk construction on the Parallel Project Training blog

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