And the Gold Goes To…

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The flame will soon be lit (although the sporting events have already started – go USA women’s soccer!), the crowds will be cheering, the opening ceremony will be spectacular (in the best understated British tradition I assume) and thousands of voices will be singing God Save the Queen in their very, very British accents.  And all the planning that has been going on for years will be on display…and so will thousands of British soldiers making sure the Games are secure.

Soldiers at the Olympics you ask?  In the land of the unarmed bobbies?  In fact, one of the selling points of the London Olympic bid was just that…unarmed bobbies for security.

By now you have probably heard about the security fiasco and the name G4S.  It’s quite an irony that London’s risk management process was itself full of risk.  From what can be gathered so far, G4S was contacted to supply about 2,000 security personnel and then in December it dawned on the organizing committee that they really needed 10,000 personnel.  G4S said no problem and everyone went away feeling very secure…till it came time to deliver the 10,000 and that’s when the proverbial %^$# hit the proverbial fan and now people are trying to wipe it off their faces.  Enquiring minds everywhere want to know what happened and especially those of us in the Supply Chain/Sourcing community so I took the liberty of positing a few questions:

  • What kind of “Demand Planning” was going on in the committee that made them increase their requirements 5 fold – JUST MONTHS BEFORE THE GAMES!
  • Was the supplier involved in helping them craft their solution requirement (ummm sir, are you really sure you need ONLY 2,000 personnel??)
  • When the increase in the requirements was placed, did the committee ask for some kind of fulfillment strategy from G4S?
  • Was the lead time and process to “create” (screen, hire, train, deploy etc. etc.) these security personnel ever discussed and validated?  If so, how could the fulfillment strategy for the increased numbers stand any kinds of scrutiny?
  • Was there any discussion inside G4S before accepting the increase?  Who says no to additional business in your company and when do they say no? Does sales ever say no? Does “manufacturing” (fulfillment capability)?  I have yet to see/hear of any disciplined process that would allow a company to say no to a fivefold increase from a customer.
  • Was there any kind of ongoing progress monitoring of G4S put in place to ensure that they were on track?

I’m assuming that by now, this is starting to sound like a fairly common supply chain problem that we all deal with on an ongoing basis.  We have poor demand planning, lack of supplier involvement in the solution (perhaps), no supplier capability validation, no ongoing risk monitoring of this supply chain, etc. etc.  And remember, this is a risk management solution with no intrinsic risk management – kind of ironic.  I now wonder what kind of supply chain/sourcing expertise did the committee have access to?  If none or very little, then may we expect other supply chain problems to crop up as the games go on?  While I’m sure that the games will go on flawlessly and hearing will be held and fines levied and suits filed, I’m sure that the committee could have done without this major last minute glitch and the subsequent bad publicity.  I’m also quite sure that there are many conversations within G4S on whether they should have accepted the huge risk that they took when they went along with the significant increase in demand.  If only they would have called upon some of our British professional brethren because here is the kicker…”Somehow, G4S was awarded a sole-source contract by the organizing committee in a process where little transparency exists.”

Your honour, I rest my case!!

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Dalip Raheja is President and CEO of The Mpower Group (TMG). Dalip has over 30 years of experience managing large organizations and change initiatives. He has worked across the spectrums of supply chain management, strategic sourcing, and management consulting.

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