All Good Things Must Come to an End: Reporting from the Olympics, Part 3

Posted: August 16th, 2012 | Author: Ralph Booth | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Well it’s true, all good things must come to an end and on Sunday night we fondly waved farewell to the London 2012 Olympic Games! This is also the third, and final, post in my series drawing parallels between project management and the Olympics. In this concluding post, I’ll focus on how to properly wrap up a project, or in other words, hold its Closing Ceremony!

On Sunday night we watched the festival of British Music mark the end of the Games with performances by George Michael, Queen and the Spice Girls! We also saw the athletes celebrate their medal triumphs during the ceremony – after all, this is an opportunity to recognise their achievements, say thank you, and take a moment to reflect on future possibilities.

For any event or project, the closing ceremonies hold just as much significance as the opening ones. At Comptel, the Europe West Services team places great emphasis on properly closing a project. And while our project closure activities are not as jaw-dropping as the Olympic Closing Ceremony, they do share many of the same objectives.

Recognising achievements:

The project closure phase is an opportunity for teams and individuals to be rewarded and thanked for their efforts. Recognising when a project has been successfully delivered is important for morale and team building. During the London 2012 Closing Ceremony, for instance, a section of the show was set aside to honour and thank the thousands of volunteers who have helped make the Games such a success.

Formally marking the end of a project:

It is also important to formally mark the end of a project, allowing resources to be re-allocated to other initiatives and ensuring loose ends, like the project financial accounts, are properly closed. By marking the end of the project, the team can also begin to concentrate on finding their next venture. Furthermore, it’s an ideal time to provide a thorough handover to the support teams who will look after the customer as part of business as usual.

Documentation and materials:

The materials and assets relating to the project, like effort estimates, need to be updated and saved to the communal areas/libraries for use by subsequent similar projects. Take, for example, transportation – considered one of the main concerns around London 2012. Prior to the Games, there was talk about whether the city’s old transport system could cope with the additional journeys that were sure to come with the Games. This was no small task, with around 4.3 million journeys being taken every day! Detailed plans were put in place to help the city handle these additional journeys, and the next host city of Rio de Janeiro will certainly be looking to these for guidance on overcoming transportation issues for 2016.

Lessons learned:

It’s important to perform a lessons learned exercise to build upon what went well and understand how to improve other items for next time. In terms of the Olympics, team Great Britain won their greatest-ever record haul in over 100 years, centred on the great successes from the cycling and rowing teams that dominated their sports. Other nations, as part of their lessons learned, will be assessing how they can improve and compete with Great Britain at the next Games.

Ongoing legacy:

Finally, you want to make sure there is an ongoing legacy, or in other words, another related project following on from the one you have just completed.  But moreover, it’s important to ensure the relationship with the existing customer is maintained. At Comptel, the customer is transferred to a dedicated client manager who provides ongoing support and care for them. With the Olympics, the transition to Rio for the 2016 Games was marked with the Mayor of Rio arriving and acknowledging the handover by waving the Olympic flag for all to see!

So we come to the end of my Olympic project management related posts. This blog covers the steps we complete at Comptel’s Europe West Services team to ensure that our projects end properly and on a high note!

And on a personal level, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympic Games in London; the whole country has been swept away by the excitement and spectacle of hosting one of the greatest events on earth. For me it was sad to see them come to an end, but now our focus and anticipation switches to Rio in 2016… And I, for one, cannot wait!

Going for Gold with Project Management: Reporting from the Olympics, Part 2

Posted: August 7th, 2012 | Author: Ralph Booth | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, I’m amid a kick-off session of my own for a major Europe West Comptel project and discussed some tips for a successful project launch.  Now in the second post in my series, I’ll focus on the implementation phase – and how this parallels with the Games!

Firstly, I’d like to mention this year’s amazing Opening Ceremony, which not only rewrote the rule book for kicking off the games, but also showcased Britain’s collective passion, strengths and sense of humour to the world. What a fantastic show and start to the Games! Now with the kick-off phase behind us, both my client project and the Olympic Games have moved into the marathon implementation phase.  Here are some tips that I use as a project manager on Comptel’s Europe West Services team to ensure the implementation stays on track for a podium finish.


From watching the games in full force, what has struck me is the level of organisation that is required –from the food stalls to the medal makers, to the facilities and even the technology. All of these items required planning, tracking and organisation – and this is all about being prepared and knowing who needs to do what and when they need to do it! A project implementation phase is no different, as it requires a properly thought-out project plan that can be used to prepare, monitor and drive this phase, ensuring every work item is delivered on time and all dependencies are understood.


Reporting is vitally important – after all, the London 2012 Olympics can be enjoyed on the television, mobile devices, the Internet, Twitter and through various newspapers. Similarly, project reporting is just as important. For instance, understanding what’s going well and what requires additional focus helps the entire project team concentrate on the essentials. Agreeing to the type of reporting and meeting structure upfront is vital to ensure everyone is informed and the progress is transparently tracked.

Team Work:

Whilst watching the cycling road race on the first day of the Games, I was struck by the level of team work required for an individual to win a medal – and with it all the glory. Project implementation phases parallel this sense of solidarity. It is imperative to create a team spirit and ensure that, where required, your implementation team works together to keep the project on track.

Strong Leadership:

During the implementation phase strong leadership is essential to ensure the project is delivered on time and all issues are managed effectively. The role of the project manager is vital to coordinate and drive the project to completion.

Focus on the Goal:

Finally, as in the Olympic Games, there must be a steady focus on the goal in order to come out on top. It is easy tobecome distracted during the implementation phase and, for example, look at bringing in additional scope. But you must remain dedicated to fulfilling the original requirements for which the project was created. Take, for instance, Michael Phelps – he has remained focused throughout the Games with the sole intent of securing as many medals as possible. This unwavering drive and concentration is the key to securing success and, combined with his talent, has made him the most decorated Olympian ever.

On a personal note, on Friday 3rd August, my family and I headed to the Olympic Stadium and watched the first day of the athletics, the highlight of which was the Women’s Heptathlon opening rounds with team Great Britain’s ‘face of the games’ Jessica Ennis competing.

Upon entering the Olympic Park, I was struck by the sheer scale of it. The stadium is enormous and really quite inspiring with the fantastic Orbit sculpture dominating the view. There was a real buzz of excitement around the place as spectators made their way to their respective events. Upon first glimpse inside the Olympic Stadium, it really does take your breath away and once it’s full, the atmosphere in the arena is incredible – the whole stadium enjoying being part of the Olympics and urging the athletes to do well.

I truly got the sense that Britain is very proud to be Olympic hosts and to have this incredible once-in-a-lifetime event in our capital; to the point where the crowds were going to make sure they enjoyed every second of the experience and spectacle! The London Olympics was intended to inspire a generation to take up sport and our great city has certainly stamped its personality on the games, grabbing the world’s attention along the way. It will be quite sad to see them come to a close!

Speaking of, my next post will sadly turn to reviewing the Closing Ceremony and my tips for what we do within Comptel’s services team to ensure that a project is properly concluded with all the lessons learned.

Looking forward to the Opening Ceremony!

Posted: July 26th, 2012 | Author: Ralph Booth | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

The emphasis, excitement and media coverage surrounding this Friday’s Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games, is an imminent reminder of the importance of getting off on the right foot for any event or project. After all, the opening ceremony sets the tone, the atmosphere, the momentum and brings unity among the participating athletes.

Coincidentally, I am currently organising my own ‘opening ceremony’ in the form of a kick-off session for a major Europe West Comptel project. Whilst my ‘kick-off’ sessions are pretty tame in comparison to the blockbuster opening of the Olympic Games, they share similar objectives: team building, gaining credibility, marking the event and creating the drive and focus to succeed.

Of course, the Europe West services team believes in the importance of well-organised, structured and informative ‘project kick-off’ meetings, as well. And from our experience, an internal kick-off meeting should be followed by a more formal introductory meeting with the customer’s team. The ultimate objective for both of these meetings is to ensure the success of a project, by bringing the team together, outlining the project goals, and uniting everyone in the effort to achieve these. Based on this, I’ve developed a checklist for successful project kick-offs:

Basic introductions:

Introduce the customer to the project team, highlighting their needs and preferences. Establish the key stakeholders, walk-through the customer’s history with the company, and summarise their current technical architecture. In addition, such a session should include an introduction of the internal team members and establish agreements regarding the frequency of subsequent meetings and project reporting required.

Confirm scope and objectives:

When confirming the scope of the project, focus on what is to be delivered and what is needed to meet objectives. This is also an excellent time to answer any last-minute architectural or solution-based questions.

Align everyone to the plan:

The kick-off is the ideal time to share the overarching plan, in addition to project deadlines and milestones. Doing so is critical to ensuring the team members are aligned, driven and motivated to meet their deadlines. As with any good project plan, be sure to include identified issues and risks to prepare for any anticipated challenges.

Break the ice:

Remember, project kick-off meetings help break the ice, foster a sense of team spirit, and explain who is doing what and when! They also give the team a chance to ask associated product experts any questions that will enhance the delivery.

Hit the ground running:

Above all, the kick-off meeting is designed to enable the team to hit the ground running! With a good kick-off meeting, the team should begin on familiar ground with the customer and immediately understand the project details and their requirements.

This Friday, I will be watching the Opening Ceremony on television from East London, as the Olympic ‘project team’ officially kicks-off the Games. The spectacular event will only reinforce the importance of formally marking the start of a project — a sentiment that we share at Comptel and express through our project kick-offs.

And next week, with the Games in full swing, we’ll see what happens after the Opening Ceremony, as the project moves into full implementation! Furthermore, I am lucky enough to have a ticket to the Games themselves, so I will share my first hand experiences of events from London!