Supplier risk – the challenges of buying for temporary events (part 3)

This third blog from Daniel Ball of Wax Digital in his "avoiding temporary tantrums" series continues to explore the challenges of purchasing for temporary sporting events and festivals. This time Daniel focuses on the importance of vetting suppliers to ensure they have the capacity to supply for large numbers…..

When it comes to any large scale gathering, be it a music festival or sporting event, risk can rear its ugly head in many different forms. Crowd safety has to be the number one priority of course, but organisers also need to ensure that the suppliers they engage with are equipped to cope with the large number of attendees the event is likely to attract.

London 2012 was an extremely good example of this. Who can forget the high profile debacle over security at the Olympics? G4S was unable to meet its contractual obligations to provide 10,700 guards for the event, at a high cost to both the security firm and the event organisers who were forced to call in the army to solve the problem.

While this shows that procurement processes are a key part of delivering successful large scale events, it also highlights a major challenge: one-off events of this size require ‘a peak’ investment from suppliers – which in their normal mode of business they simply may not be able to service. While G4S was just one high profile example of ‘peak procurement planning’ we all got to hear about, it’s unlikely to be the last.

Event organisers have to get security right and luckily, the Olympics turned out to be a huge success. But it’s how an event’s organisers handle crowd safety, insurance and third party risks that all determine the ultimate success of the event.

If you’re asking a supplier to scale up for an event, regardless of what it is they’re being asked to supply, it is essential to check you’re not asking them to scale up beyond their ability:

  • Can a relatively unknown artist deliver on the big stage?
  • Can a specialist catering provider cater for a large crowd?
  • Does your waste management company have the capacity to clear the site within legally required timescales?
  • Is your ticketing provider equipped to cope with demand?

For procurement teams this means ensuring suppliers are fully vetted in advance of an event to ensure they are up to the job and don’t leave you exposed to risk. This is where eSourcing systems can help by shortlisting only those that meet strict selection criteria.

Once the supplier shortlist is in place, the event’s procurement team can work closely with them to ensure that they are unlikely to expose them to any risk. It’s important to ask them how they plan to accommodate such large numbers; can they provide case studies from events where they’ve catered for big crowds previously? What investment in their products or services do they plan to ensure they’re ready for event?

Risk is a common trend in all manner of supply chains and this issue highlights the need for all critical supplier relationships to be collaborative and information driven. It’s a case of being able to communicate and work with suppliers, especially when service or product levels are at a peak, and ensure that they are taking the risks as seriously as you.

In a sector where many events are produced out of love for music or the arts, organisers may have a tendency to believe ‘it’ll be alright on the night,’ but unless the appropriate vetting procedures have taken place, there’s a real risk that it won’t be. This can have a damaging effect on the whole event experience that people take away with them and could affect the future performance and reputation of your event – a subject we will cover in our final blog in this series.

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