No surprises on Olympics build [Video and podcast]

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Posted by APM on 26th Apr 2012

Project managers working on the Olympics have turned soothsayers in a bid to ward off any unwelcome surprises. But instead of gazing into a crystal ball, it is the careful application of quality assurance that has kept the multi-billion pound project on track ahead of this summer’s event.

Speaking at Wednesday night’s APM Learning Legacy event in London senior figures from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and delivery partner, CLM, stressed the importance of creating a no surprises culture.

“There’s always the criticism that project managers don’t look too far into the future,” said Russell Newman, head of risk management, CLM, when outlining the steps taken to mitigate the risks associated with such a high profile build programme.

“We held a whole series of activities that went on, on a regular monthly or quarterly cycle, that enabled us to get a view in advance of what was coming up.

“The idea was to be as visible as we possibly could about changes that were coming on and to try and have as few surprises as possible; generally speaking, I think we succeeded.”

Client representative Gordon Alexander, programme assurance executive from the ODA, agreed: “There was an expectation that when you went to the monthly project reviews, you weren’t likely to find out about something for the first time in that room.

“We tried to create an environment where you could never preclude surprises so I wouldn’t say that they didn’t happen, but we certainly tried to manage the environment to minimise that.”

The successful delivery of key objectives – sustainability, health and safety and legacy – was paramount in the minds of all involved. For former ODA programme assurance executive Paul Seller this meant utilising the breadth of skills and experience available. “Assurance isn’t just about writing reports,” he said. “For me, it is an independent view of performance.”

Often this meant getting a second, third or even fourth opinion in order to improve confidence in the delivery stakes.

According to Alex White, programme quality manager at CLM, the quality promise, advocated on the Olympics build, could easily be transferred to other projects and programmes. She said by implementing initiatives to help manage quality at the very beginning of a programme, it was possible “to secure a product that the client wants to receive”.

The final Learning Legacy event is titled ‘Delivering the Olympics legacy through the construction programme’. It will be held on Wednesday 30th May at the same venue, the Charing Cross Hotel in London – book your place today.

Watch videos of all speakers

Listen to the event podcast

Previous events:
23rd Jan: Learning legacy launch debate: Lessons learned on the construction of the Olympic Park

29th Feb: Bringing an Olympic nation together – context, governance and setting up the programme

28th March: Greatest show on earth - delivering the Olympic Park

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