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!