London Olympics delivery success: the lessons for nuclear

What did the nuclear industry learn from the London Olympics delivery with respect to the key areas of Commercial, Project Control and Delivery?

Staging the London Olympics required unprecedented levels of co-ordination and planning, with issues ranging from financial and project controls to construction and infrastructure as well as political and cultural sensitivities – plus much more.

Sellafield Ltd, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the supply chain have benefited from a ‘lessons learned’ session presented by the Olympic Delivery Authority new window (ODA) team and their delivery Partner CLM, who were in Cumbria for a series of half-day events earlier this year.

The presentations focused on three key areas of Commercial, Project Controls and Delivery, with one of the recurrent themes being ‘Do the basics well and with rigour’ and centred on how the delivery programme was managed.

More than 250 senior delegates took advantage of the opportunity to attend the presentations and question the ODA team about details of the complex, multi-billion pound programme which included:

  • 19 major projects;
  • Almost 1,000 planning applications;
  • Delivery of 27,000 activities and milestones;
  • A workforce of more than 15,000.

Event organiser Sean Moules, of the NDA, said: “When reading about the Olympics, I was immediately struck by the huge number of parallels with the Sellafield site – when you look at factors such as the numbers employed, the rate of spend, the security and stakeholder aspects, funding mechanisms, brownfield site issues, project control aspects and a host of other metrics, both programmes have major similarities.

“The sessions gave us a valuable insight into the scale of the programme and how it was delivered. The feedback I’ve had so far has been extremely positive and there has been interest from other site licensed companies as well. ”

NDA Chief Executive John Clarke said: "Thanks to all those who attended both to share their experience and to learn from that sharing. Although there are clearly major differences between delivering the Olympics and the nuclear complexities at Sellafield, there are also many parallels where large-scale challenges have been addressed and overcome, and major demolition and construction projects were delivered to time and cost. It was instructive to understand how London 2012 was delivered and there are many lessons we can apply across our estate."

Scott Reeder, Deputy Managing Director - Major Projects, Sellafield, said: "The recent Olympic Delivery Authority learning event provided a valuable opportunity for the project management community from Sellafield to understand the principles applied to meeting the Olympic challenge for large-scale major project delivery to fully meet the immovable commitment date. All of us in the Project Management profession take pride in what was delivered for the recent London Olympics. We will seek to apply the learning from the ODA to the challenges we face at Sellafield. We greatly appreciate the generosity of the ODA team in sharing their experience with us."

A range of material, including video podcasts of the four presentations, is now available via the NDA website new window .

Further follow-up activities are now in progress to disseminate useful documents more widely and to develop action plans for a number of areas. Please contact Sean Moules for further information.