Sunday, 6 April 2014

Water: Bottleneck item that stopped the 'official' Sheffield Half Marathon

I've discussed bottleneck items before - remember the lethal injections and laptop hinges. Yes, these are the low value items which frequently end up classified as 'tail spend' which lack glamour but when things go wrong with them, they can have really big negative impacts.

Today, bottleneck items were making the national news in the UK: Sky, ITV and BBC included this procurement story in their headlines. For those of you who missed the headlines Sheffield Half Marathon was cancelled, for the first time in 33 years, owing to the water for runners not being delivered. In a separate twist many runners were unaware of the announced cancellation and continued regardless with the local community standing in where procurement fell down. The chair of the organising committee apologised:
It is with huge disappointment and regret that we were forced to cancel the 2014 half marathon because of a problem with the delivery of water. We apologise to all the runners, their families and friends and anyone who has supported the event. 
Even the Deputy Prime Minister found time to talk about procurement:
I know thousands of people have trained long and hard for this event, with many running for some outstanding local charities and others coming from around the country to take part or watch. I can only imagine how disappointed they must have been when they learned that the race was cancelled as they were on the start line ready to set off. 
Everyone involved deserves a full explanation of how this farcical situation was allowed to happen. Sheffield is an outstanding city of sport. The extraordinary scenes today shouldn't tarnish that reputation.
Is the quest for 'big spend' involvement forever destined to distract from making a real contribution because we don't take seriously enough the risks of Bottleneck items which lie in The Tail? Tonight procurement has taken another step backwards in credibility, not just in Sheffield but nationally. Tonight, one bottleneck item, I suspect, is causing a lack of sleep for some, and a laugh for many; let's hope the rest of us learn from this lesson.

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