Iain Patterson, 2012 CIO has an Olympian task

All CIOs face pressures from chief execs to increase efficiency and save money, but when you're involved in one of the most high-profile construction projects the UK has ever seen, overspending and slipping deadlines soon come to the attention of people more fearsome than even the most ruthless shareholders - the national press.

Not that Iain Patterson, CIO of CLM, the consortium building London's 2012 Olympic venues, has a lot to fear from the fourth estate. He was brought into the project in September 2007 to reduce the cost and improve the performance of the IT systems supporting the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the 202-hectare Olympic park in East London. With integrated systems contributing to the construction of the stadium starting three months ahead of schedule and at a forecast saving of £30m, Patterson has made a big difference to the Games effort.

The challenge was unique in many ways, and not just because of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that drew Patterson to the role. CLM is a consortium of three construction companies - CH2M Hill, Laing O'Rourke and Mace - which was appointed by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) as its Delivery Partner in October 2006, with the task of project managing the venues and infrastructure programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The ODA itself is a public body created by an Act of Parliament, but liases closely with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) - a private company charged with organising and running the Games themselves.

Although CLM's parent firms had experience with major construction projects - including Heathrow's Terminal 5 - London- 2012 presented a whole new challenge.

"You've got a startup, in line with a consortium, working with a government body. From an IT perspective, that makes it unique," says Patterson.

"You'd think that with the Olympics happening every four years, you've got a template that just gets rolled out. That's true of the event itself - the events system is fine-tuned and will get dropped in here, but the actual construction processes are always different."

When he arrived at CLM's Canary Wharf HQ, Patterson found a firm settled into the mobilisation phase but yet to embark on a delivery programme which would involve designing the stadium, velodrome and aquatics centre, preparing the site for the construction, building the venues and finally handing them over to Locog.

The ODA had already established strict timeframes for each stage of the build, and Patterson's main concern was to unite the different stakeholders and disparate IT systems with a single IT strategy and a single IT team.