The success of the Olympics will rest on what Ray O’Rourke and the CLM consortium does in the next 90 days. Mark Leftly considers the race ahead, and how it will be tackled

By Ron Brooks’ understated standards, it was an ecstatic response. “I’m absolutely delighted,” he said after he received the call to tell him that his CLM consortium had been selected as the delivery partner for the 2012 London Games. The consortium, which comprises contractor Laing O’Rourke, project manager Mace and US construction group CH2M Hill International, had won a contract worth £100-200m to act as the client for the Olympic construction programme.

Brooks is the chief executive of the consortium, but the real victory was for its chairman, Ray O’Rourke, who had spent millions of pounds to co-sponsor London’s bid to host the Olympics. At last week’s press conference announcing the appointment, O’Rourke couldn’t stop smiling. He promised to take logistics, health and safety and supply chain management “to new levels” for 2012.

Although the Olympics is still nearly six years away, the next 90 days will be crucial to its ultimate success. David Higgins, the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, wants to use the time to finalise the construction programme. He said: “It’s only fair over these 90 days that CLM gets the chance to review what the ODA has been doing before committing to the programme.”

Four groups of “task orders” need to be prepared during this period. These include setting up office systems and evaluating matters arising from construction, such as the health and safety and security regimes. CLM’s payment will be assessed using key performance indicators, and to begin with these will measure its success in fulfilling the task orders.

O’Rourke couldn’t stop smiling. He promised to take logistics, health and safety and supply chain management ‘to new levels’ for 2012

Few people in the UK have much experience of this type of arrangement, but David Trench, who was director of site and structure at the Millennium Dome and redevelopment director at Ascot racecourse, offers some advice. He believes it is vital that CLM sorts out the mechanics of the client role within the next 90 days. One key document will be a booklet of about 25 pages that sets out the structure of the organisation. “It should state who’s got authority, how much authority they have, and who hasn’t got authority,” he says.

Trench argues that this would make it simpler to set up clusters of teams, dealing with individual sports, as well as general projects such as transport, logistics and the Olympic village. He says each cluster should comprise about six people, headed by a chairman from the consortium. The aim is to create clusters with a sufficiently broad range of expertise. For example, in the swimming cluster one person might deal with the height of diving boards and another with the technical arrangements for water polo. Each cluster should then produce a 100-page technical brief for the designers and builders.

The Millennium Dome had 20-25 clusters, or “litmus groups” as they were known. The Olympics, of course, is on a far greater scale. A source close to the project suggests that there could be as many as 40 collaborative teams, covering about 30 venues and infrastructure works.

The games, then, are afoot.