MCA Management Awards 2010: Technology

Category winner

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Atos Consulting with CLM

Staging the London 2012 Olympic Games means completing one of Europe's biggest and most innovative construction projects ever. In September 2006, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) appointed the CLM consortium to build all the new venues and infrastructure needed for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. CLM is made up of three construction firms: CH2M Hill, Laing O'Rourke and Mace. The Olympic Park will cover nine state-of-the-art venues, including the Olympic stadium, velodrome and aquatics centre.

Such an immovable deadline put huge pressure on the partners to deliver multiple world-class projects to budget. Central to all of them was IT - from zero IT capability at the start, CLM and the ODA had to rapidly develop all the technology infrastructure required by a FTSE 250-sized firm - systems that would normally take years to evolve.

CLM needed to deliver about 45 applications quickly, juggle more than 100 development projects and an IT spend of around ú140m across multiple budget sources. Unfortunately, complications arose between the respective IT functions of CLM and the ODA, which had different but overlapping responsibilities and needs. The IT strategy was pretty embryonic. IT itself also needed to improve its performance fast to serve the needs of the business. If it didn't, the construction programme would be at risk, exposing CLM to the risk of cost penalties.

In September 2007, CLM asked Atos Consulting to investigate the problems, establish a high-performing IT department, and then manage the development and implementation of all technology needed for the 2012 construction programme.

Atos acted as adviser to CLM's new head of IT to transform the entire IT function. Consultants took key roles within IT to ensure that delivery deadlines would be met. The Atos team, which reached 20 at its peak, comprised a mix of skills in technology, business, information security, change management and programme management.

Atos immediately proposed new governance: a business-systems change board brought together executive board members and senior business representatives from the ODA and CLM to drive high-level strategy requirements and changes. Reporting to this was a steering group, to maintain oversight of delivery, with a series of project boards directing and reporting project progress.

A new, integrated organisational structure put each discipline in place to manage the development of applications through the lifecycle. Atos then defined an overarching IT strategy that outlined the overall 2012 Olympic vision, and the organisation, sourcing, finance, processes, innovation, environmental sustainability, security, infrastructure and applications needed to complete construction.

Other Atos interventions included enterprise architecture, which gave the big-picture view of the organisation, its processes and how they related to IT applications and services. The consultancy identified and delivered improvements in operations using Information Technology Infrastructure Library best practice.

The consultancy worked with CLM to form one integrated IT function with the ODA that served both organisations; it spent time on intensive team-building, performance management and communication, and centralised dispersed budgets and managed them so that priorities could be better set and expenditure controlled. It established a set of common standards, policies, project-management processes, planning and forecasting.

With reporting lines and responsibilities clarified, performance and morale improved immediately and the new team felt motivated as an integral part of the construction programme. By the end of the project, Atos had helped CLM produce detailed plans, specifications and budgets for delivering the technology for the construction phase.

The new integrated systems were a big factor in the construction of the Olympic stadium starting three months early and at a forecast saving of ú30m - and also enabled the construction of the aquatics centre to begin two months ahead of schedule.

Says Peter Shipley, chief administrative officer of CLM: 'Atos Consulting was instrumental in the successful delivery of the technology programme, showing commitment and tenaciousness in the face of considerable challenges. Its team flexed and adjusted its resource model to field just the mix of technical and business skills and experience we needed to deliver in this unique environment.'

TAKE-HOME TIPS

In the pell-mell rush to build the major venues for the 2012 London Olympics, CLM needed urgent help with its own internal structures, notably IT. Fielding a team of mixed skills, Atos set up a governance that enabled the consortium to work closely with the Olympic Delivery Authority, devised a structure to co-ordinate input of different disciplines, and defined an overall strategy for an integrated IT function - a big factor in putting CLM ahead of schedule on the main stadium, saving an estimated ú30m.

- Embed consultants within client and delivery teams to break boundaries between organisations, and keep the focus on making the programme work.

- Stop scope-creep early on by exercising robust governance.

- Strike a balance between flexibility and rigid controls when in a fast-moving environment.

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