pmo planning for significant events like the OlympicsWhile writing post “Keeping projects on track over the summer holidays“, it made me think about the plans that many organisations make when major events are held such as the Olympics, World Cup, etc.

For example, when the Olympics was held in London in 2012, many organisations in and around London made contingency plans.  The reason for this was that for the duration of the Olympics and ParaOlympics, it was highly likely that there would be a number of challenges to the normal working day:


Increased number of visitors to the areas in an around the stadiums.  All of these people needing to get to the stadiums meaning the travel systems being placed under extreme stress.  The daily number of people using the travel systems greatly increasing making it a challenge for workers on their daily commute.

Road Closures

For some major events, it can be common practice to close or divert roads.  This makes driving very difficult, delay buses and push more people onto other modes of transport such as the underground (making the problem even worse).

So what…..

The ‘so what’ in all of this is that all the extra people and transport challenges will make it difficult for people to go about their normal working day.  During the London Olympics many organisations made plans for staff to work remotely, not to arrange any key face to face meetings in London and, generally accept productivity will reduce.

PMO Action

In a similar way to proactively manage staff holidays.  Similar assessments should take place for the significant events (such as the Olympics) (see post on Project Holiday Planning).  This will allow the PMO to identify potential problems and help put mitigating plans in place early.

Take Away Thoughts

While you may think the Olympics in London is very specific, the principles of identifying potential events that will impact project delivery is universal and timeless.  The Olympics will be held every 4 years like the World Cup.  There are other key events that will impact particular Cities and countries.

The lesson is that a good PMO or project leader should automatically be thinking and identifying events that will impact the projects under their control and take positive, proactive action.