OPERATIONAL READINESS – ARE YOU PREPARED FOR YOUR NEXT EVENT?
Are you and your team ready for your next event? Are your procedures and policies organised and ready to be executed? Have you completed numerous operation readiness simulation exercises?
Here at the AISTS we have been organising the SEMOS (Sport Event Management and Organisation Seminar) since 2001. Held annually in Lausanne in October – and for the first time this year in Singapore in November – this event will get you get ready for any sports event by bringing together leaders of International Sport Federations and other academic experts of the AISTS network, including the International Olympic Committee and sport event organisers, to deliver 5 days of lectures, case studies, panel discussions, group activities and operation readiness exercises.
We all know that organising major sporting events involves meticulous planning, complex coordination and dynamic multitasking. Event managers must be able to think outside the box and get problems resolved. With the list of deliverables sometimes appearing never-ending and the unexpected issues increasing day by day, we have put together 5 key action-points that event managers should follow to ensure they deliver that sporting event that their fans have been waiting for.
Here are 5 tips that we think will help ensure your next event runs smoothly.
1. Know your clients well
In large-scale sporting events the event managers do not need to know the sport in detail – that is the role of the competition manager. The event manager is the event expert; the competition manager is the sports expert. The key is to ensure that the event and competition managers have a very strong working relationship with each other and communicate effectively. It is the role of the event manager to know and understand every client group. This means knowing who they are (e.g. VIP’s) what their specific needs are (e.g. broadcasters), what their flows are in the venue (e.g. athletes must not cross paths with media) and what their culture and behaviour are like (eg. spectators and fans).
2. Define and know your procedures and policies
Event managers need to be hands-on, dynamic thinkers and in tricky situations be able to make a quick, informed decision. To be able to do this effectively, you must put policies in place and know them inside out. Policies often exist already from international and/or national federations, host cities or previous organising committees and all will have detailed policies for crisis management. Find them, learn them and share them with your team. Each area manager should master their own policies but the event manager needs to have a working knowledge of all of them.
3. Have an excellent plan but be ready for the unplanned
One of the perks of working in events is that all projects are different and each has its own issues and unexpected happenings. Even if the exact same system is implemented a second time, the project will be different: each client group will have different requirements, the spectators will be different or the project team members will have different ideas about certain procedures. Whatever the scale of the event is, the event manager should always be prepared for the unexpected. The best way to avoid the unplanned is to have a detailed plan. Study previous editions, map risks, have contingency plans and train your team for operational readiness.
4. Have regular team meetings
Regular team meetings not only strengthen bonds and work relationships among members but also keeps the teams on track regarding updates, developments and deadlines. The Event manager needs to be well prepared to host these meetings and demand preparation from team members as well. The meetings must have a solution orientated rather than complaint orientated focus, with the main goal of each meeting being to provoke dialogue between functional areas and find solutions for common issues that are occurring. Having the entire team on the same page at all times is key for a successful delivery.
5. Plan event simulations
Once the event manager has planned and mapped all risks, operational readiness or event simulation exercises should be run. These functional exercises should be as close as possible to the reality of what may happen at an event and their purpose is to validate the plans, policies and procedures set by the events team. The goal of these simulations is to practice communication flows between the impacted areas, so that the right people can be informed and therefore take the right decisions. The goal is not to have the right answers for the various scenarios. A full debrief must be executed after each exercise.
As part of SEMOS Lausanne and SEMOS Asia participants will take part in Operation Readiness exercises. These scenarios help managers to develop strategies and procedures for all possible scenarios. During the seminar, participants will need to tackle scenarios such as:
- Due to an infrastructure accident, the media entrance has been blocked. To get to their area in the venue, they now need to use the athlete’s entrance. How to proceed?
- On the way to the venue, one of the athlete’s buses gets stuck in a major traffic jam caused by an accident. The athletes are likely to arrive late to the venue for the first competition. How to proceed?
Photo courtesy of Singapore Sports Hub Facebook
About the AISTS Open Modules
The AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) was founded in 2000 by the International Olympic Committee, EPFL, University of Lausanne, University of Geneva, IMD Business School, Ecole Hôteliere de Lausanne, City of Lausanne and Canton of Vaud. A not-for-profit foundation, the AISTS is committed to professionalising sports management through continuing education, applied research and an engaging platform for industry connections. The AISTS Open Modules integrate theories into practical applications, through case studies, presentations and discussions, enabling a rich exchange of ideas and experiences. Our modules are taught in English by academics and professionals from different sport organisations including the IOC, various International Federations and sport agencies.