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How WRG Produced and Managed the Budget for the G20 Summit

The London G20 Summit took place at a time when the world faced the worst economic crisis since the Second World War. The aim was to bring together leaders of the world’s major economies and key international institutions to take the action necessary to stabilise the world economy, start recovery and preserve jobs. Leaders faced the complex challenge of averting an even more severe downturn whilst restoring growth in the short term, stabilising the financial system, preserving world trade, and laying the foundations for long term economic recovery.

Summit organisers at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) faced the complexity of creating and managing the event to host 25 world leaders and their delegations of over a 1,000 people, plus nearly 1,500 representatives of the world’s media, all to be housed in a secure environment with a requirement for near infinite space flexibility. More than 1,200 phone lines had to be installed with internet connection made available for nearly 6,000 devices that had to provide unlimited bandwidth. The event was to be broadcast worldwide and the content and discussions were to be made available to the public, both by the traditional media and online.

The sheer scale and profile of this global event, taking place under the gaze of the world’s media at a very difficult time, had its own challenges. Converting a 65,000m² space at London’s ExCel into a venue appropriate for 1,100 delegates from 28 countries, entailing five miles of trussing and 3,000 lighting units.

Registering and accrediting the world’s media and a production crew of 1,300 people, including security and police personnel, caterers and venue staff. With only a four day on-site build time and the additional requirement of a pre-summit reception at Buckingham Palace and dinner at No. 10.

The FCO issued a tender document specifying the detailed requirements for the Summit in search of an event management company with the experience and dedication to deliver.

Mike Kent, Project Director – Media Facilities, at WRG comments, “Given the tight timescale involved we decided to approach the tender process as if we had already been appointed to run the project. We identified guaranteed equipment partners to supply all of the required equipment, furniture, cabling, technology, security, AV, lighting and broadcast suites and accurately priced each individual element. This meant we were in good shape to hit the ground running when the contract was awarded by the FCO.”

From the start of the pitch process, WRG had full responsibility for producing and managing the budget for the entire project and did this using Procim. Procim is specifically designed to handle the management and control of complex projects, including budgets, cost tracking, document generation, workflow and process automation.

Kent continued, “With minimal input from WRG, the software was able to produce what the end client (FCO) needed: an accurate and full budget produced directly from Procim. At the same time WRG was easily able to identify its own elements of revenue and cost, and ensure that the whole project was delivered on-time and within budget.”

Procim has a rather unique approach to managing the actual spend against budget. As purchase orders are raised against the original budgeted lines, the software performs a number of checks before allowing the purchase order to be issued. WRG configured Procim’s workflow module to handle any deviations from budgeted spend and such transactions were electronically routed to authorised persons for approval. Managing the actual spend from the 130 suppliers and subcontract companies involved in the G20 in this way ensured that costs stayed within budget and that appropriate levels of purchase authorisation were held for all purchases.

In practice of course there were multiple revisions to the requirements and budget both up to and beyond the point of acceptance by the foreign office. It was important that the handling of all subsequent changes included a formal change request process and that the revised budget could easily be presented to the FCO. Change requests were priced up at the earliest opportunity and the costing duly amended. Procim delivers an integrated Project Change Notice (PCN) mechanism which identifies any changes in the project since budget sign-off, and includes them on a change notice document. These PCNs were regularly issued to the FCO for approval before undertaking the changes.

The software also provides an effective project reconciliation process that was utilised by WRG once the event was complete. Variances of actual spend from the agreed budget were highlighted by the system and where appropriate, these differences were then included in a final Project Change Notice to the FCO.

Kent said, “Because budget change issues were progressively managed by the software, 95% of all changes had already been communicated to the FCO prior to the event taking place, leaving only 5% to be dealt with during the final reconciliation process. This meant budget reconciliation took very little effort and time after the end of the project.”

The G20 was a large scale project of the highest profile. Importantly it was also regarded by many attendees as a huge success, described by the Prime Minister as ‘a superbly run summit that not only met but exceeded expectation’ and ‘an extremely well organised and effectively run event’ according to President Barrack Obama.

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