Using Iventis to Orchestrate a World Cup Bid

Iventis was developed to make planning large-scale events easier and more efficient for organisers. However, before a Host City, country or region has even been selected a significant amount of work goes into the bid which must be prepared for the overseeing body such as FIFA or the IOC.

Watch our interview with Simon Johnson as he explains what's involved in bidding for a World Cup.

There is no guarantee of success, so with limited money and resources available at this early stage, a small team has to pull together a large amount of information to make their bid as confident and attractive as possible. A number of key decisions must be made which, if successful, form the blueprint for the event itself.

This was the challenge faced by Simon Johnson, as the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the England 2018 World Cup bid. Simon is a seasoned sports executive who was recently appointed as a director of Iventis. Simon is also the Chair of the Rugby Football League and a former Executive at the Football Association.

Simon’s experience of working on the bid highlighted how valuable a digital tool like Iventis could be to the bid process, and subsequent delivery of a major event.

As the UK and Ireland considers a bid for the 2030 World Cup, we’ll look into what was involved, and how Simon thinks the Iventis platform could have helped. Here’s what he had to say.

How was the World Cup Bid Organised?

Simon Johnson
Simon Johnson was COO of England's 2018 World Cup Bid.

The England 2018 World Cup bid began following the completion of a feasibility study. This involved the creation of a separate company that was responsible for putting together the bid on behalf of the FA, in line with FIFA’s strict guidelines. More than 20 people were involved in this organisation, including a technical bid team, marketing, sustainability, and a range of specialist consultants and suppliers.

The bidding process involved putting together a series of Bid Books that contained around 20 chapters. These were incredibly detailed and looked into areas such as the host stadiums, transport infrastructure, environmental protection, training sites and base camps, accommodation, security, medical services, insurance, finances, and other ongoing events. The bidding team had to contact all 12 potential home cities and obtain all required information about the above subjects, as well as securing certain government guarantees.

All in all, the World Cup bidding process took two-and-a-half years

A project of this magnitude required a multitude of stakeholders to deliver on the technical requirements of the bidding process, and ensure that all of FIFA’s guidelines were being met. All in all, the World Cup bidding process took two-and-a-half years from its commission right the way through to the final decision.

What Difficulties were Encountered?

Organising the World Cup bid was labour-intensive and costly. It was very time-consuming, especially for those at senior management level. This is because we had to man-manage every single consultant and third-party.

England 2018 Bid book
A large amount of work goes into a major event bid, usually with limited resources.

We wanted to showcase the very best of what the country had to offer, and present it in the most engaging, attractive and optimistic way possible. Because of this, and encouragement from FIFA, we decided to present a lot of the information visually.

When it came to designing the bid books, we would first of all have to supervise the collation of an array of information. We held regular meetings to ensure everything would be delivered on time and continuously monitor progress to identify any areas that were behind schedule. This all had to happen without the benefits of real-time updates.

Not only was the senior management team responsible for collating the required information, but we also had to coordinate the design work. All of the documents had to be formatted the same way to ensure consistency. Once again, there was no opportunity for real-time updates, so we would have to arrange meetings if we wanted to check in on progress. If we discovered an error, we would have to go back through the process again. This cost us both time and money.

I estimate that around three months of senior management time was spent collating and coordinating all the relevant input.

I estimate that around three months of senior management time was spent collating and coordinating all the relevant input. In fact, I remember at one point that I had to spend three weeks working in a designer’s office to oversee the design of each of the books, which consisted of around 1,800 pages in three volumes. As you can imagine, this was very inefficient.

How could Iventis have Helped?

One of the main problems we faced with the bid was that we were unable to be dynamic in our approach. The Iventis platform would have changed much of this, as it would have provided senior management with everything they needed to oversee all functional areas, facilities and geographies in one place.

Iventis would also have enabled us to monitor progress in real time, rather than having to check in manually when projects were supposed to be completed. We would then have been able to easily identify areas that were behind schedule and direct resources accordingly. Changes could have been made easily and shared quickly, saving consultants a considerable amount of time and cost.

Not only that, but Iventis can integrate into your budget plans. This lets you see the cost impact of any changes you would like to make, so you can avoid costs potentially spiralling out of control.

The Iventis platform would have ensured that everybody was on the same page from the beginning, thereby saving us a lot of time.

Another area where Iventis would have helped is when it came to ensuring all of the bid books’ designs were uniform. Because we were dealing with the third-party designers individually, we would sometimes find that the work did not conform to the specifications we set out. The Iventis platform would have ensured that everybody was on the same page from the beginning, thereby saving us a lot of time.

As per the requirements from FIFA, and our own high standards, we wanted the bid books to tell a story. The enhanced visual elements that Iventis provides would have enabled us to do this in a much better way.

Iventis Stadium
Iventis provides a collaborative platform to bring plans together from vaious sources.

Overall, the Iventis platform would have made the entire World Cup bidding process a great deal more efficient. In particular, it would have freed up a lot of management time, and who knows what this extra free time could have achieved.

Would the Outcome have been Different?

Despite all of its advantages, I do not believe that access to the Iventis platform would have meant that the outcome of the bidding process would have changed. That being said, it would have enabled us to allocate a lot of time and money elsewhere and make everything much more efficient.

For example, we may have been able to cut the manpower needed for design in half, potentially saving the project a lot of money. I estimate the bid books themselves cost around £2.5 million. This could have been trimmed down significantly if we had access to Iventis.

How would Winning the Bid have Benefited England?

If England had been successful in winning the World Cup in 2018, it would have had a huge effect both on a national and regional level. For example, I believe it would have enabled us to come out of the recession a lot sooner than we did.

The whole country would have benefited from better infrastructure, with projects such as Crossrail already having been completed instead of still being in progress. More stadiums would have been built quicker, such as Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground. There would also have been new stadiums in Liverpool, Nottingham, Bristol and Plymouth.

On a more regional level, cities such as Sunderland, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Plymouth who had shown so much civic pride when they were announced as host cities would have benefited from inward investment. This would have included city-wide improvements, a widening of tourism and improved transport and social infrastructure. Winning the bid would, at a stroke, have transformed national perception of these areas and created untold opportunities.

Once we lost the bid, many projects were delayed or shelved entirely. The Northern Hub, for example, a rail integration project, was indefinitely put on hold. If we had won, it may have rendered the current Government policy to “level up” the North as redundant, as the levelling up would already have happened. The economy would already have been balanced and the North, far from being left behind, would have been at the heart of capital investment.

How Could Iventis Help Future Tournaments?

The way major sporting events tend to be awarded now, especially in the case of major football tournaments, is to numerous countries working together. To facilitate this, there needs to be a software that allows collaboration to take place not just between different consultants in the same country, but also in different countries, jurisdictions and languages.

All of this will prove to be a real test for the software involved, and I am extremely confident that Iventis has the ability to do it.

England 2018 Bid book map
Events are increasingly awarded to several countries, which requires a greater level of oversight and co-ordination.

As you can see from Simon’s comments, using Iventis makes planning large scale sporting events easier and more cost-effective. While England’s bid may have still been unsuccessful, the team would have had an easier time putting together such a monumental task.

Communication would have been stronger, time-scales and deadlines would have been easier to stick to and monitor, and the entire World Cup bidding process would have been more efficient and less labour-intensive.

If you're interested in learning how Iventis can support a bid or major event you're involved in, contact Iventis today to book a free demo.

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