Laying Solid Foundations: A Guide for Major Event Programme Management

This guide helps major events to start their planning in the right way: with knowledge of programme management essentials, industry best practices, smooth and efficient reporting, and a clear understanding of risk

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Introduction - The Importance of Best Practices in Programme Management

Clive Stephens, Director of Operations at Expo 2020 Dubai and General Manager of the Olympic Park at London 2012, gives his thoughts on project management, risk management and reporting


Programme Management

Laying out key strategic organisational tasks and milestones at the outset of the project provides the framework for all functions to build their project plans. It ensures clarity and consistency of direction - and allows the organising committee to begin the process of cross-functional integration, identifying where the interdependencies lie as well as potential areas of risk. This provides reassurance of organisational direction for the leadership, and allows uncertainties to be identified, recorded, linked and managed accordingly.

Optimized-medal ceremonyRisk Management

Mitigating risks before they turn into issues prevents the project from stalling, enabling continuous and consistent progress towards successful delivery. Projects are subject to risks across many areas and within many functions. The importance of identifying these, recording them, and being able to review them and their potential impact is vital if the project is going to be successfully delivered. Risks should be considered at a micro level (functional) and a macro level (organisational), and with external stakeholders too. Every effort should be made to ensure that risks are prevented from becoming issues, but this may not be possible in all cases. This, in turn, leads to the need for mitigation and contingency planning.


These best practices hold true whether delivering a project with a relatively low number of functions (5-10) or a mega event with 30 to 50. The information is complex: it needs to be recorded, easy to retrieve and delivered out of one system in bespoke reports. Reporting against progress and identifying critical milestones, projects and risk mitigations is a crucial project in itself. Functions report weekly on milestones, enabling a senior PMO (Project Management Office) team to track progress against the project timeline and be aware of milestones that are slipping. This awareness enables the PMO to drive tasks, remove barriers preventing delivery, or take informed decisions which allow the task to slip without having dire consequences on the overall project.

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Inside this guide

Building Out Your Programme

Whether you're an experienced programme manager or working on your first major event, this section gives you and your team the information you need to succeed:

  • Project Management for Major Events: The Basics
  • 5 steps to develop your milestone roadmap
  • Growing your Organising Committee
  • Understanding Change Management
  • Mega-Event Acronym Buster

The Power of Digital: Choosing Project Management Software

This is one of the biggest decisions to make at the start of your project's lifespan - getting it right will give you the collaborative and efficient planning and reporting that you need. Good project management begins with good software - not with spreadsheets:

  • The value of using project management software for your major event
  • Six reasons why project management systems fail and how to make sure they succeed for you

Managing Risk

Considering risk from the very start of your programme management makes your planning proactive rather than reactive - saving you time and money down the line:

  • Best practices for managing risk in your major event programme

Learnings from London 2012

WeTrack Managing Director Peter Ward worked at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the idea for WeTrack was conceived out of his experiences there:

  • Risk, Issue and Opportunity Management
  • Incident Logging and Resolution
  • How LOCOG led to WeTrack

WeTrack: Built for Major Events

WeTrack gives you the solid foundations you need to plan and deliver a successful major event:

  • The best events need the strongest foundations
  • WeTrack's project management system gives your organisation best practices
  • How WeTrack onboards a major event for programme management
  • How WeTrack helped to deliver the spectacular 2019 Cricket World Cup

External Resources

Want to learn more about major events and programme management? Check out these resources that we have consulted in the making of this guide:

  • External Resource Catalogue

WeTrack for Organising Committees

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Our software gives organising committees the solid foundations you need to plan and deliver a successful major event.

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