As G4S fails to secure Olympics, can we learn from the fiasco?

When asked if his company had overseen "a humiliating shambles" Nick Buckles, the CEO of G4S, the security provider now famous for all the wrong reasons, replied, "I cannot disagree with you".

After failing to supply sufficient numbers of security staff for the Olympic Games, kicking off next week, and only revealing the fact last week, Buckles faced the music during a grilling in the Commons.

In the £284m contract his firm had committed to providing 10,400 security guards for Games venues around the country, yet now can only hope to provide around 7,000 - although no one really knows who will turn up to work on the day.

As it stands, 3,500 soldiers will now be filling in the gaps, performing basic security duties - many of whom have recently returned from service in Afghanistan and are due to be on leave. The Home Office is ready to call up to 2,000 more should they be needed.

With the company's reputation in bits Buckle admitted he regrets ever signing the contract to provide such huge numbers, but he insisted that the firm had not taken on the contract for the money. It was mainly to boost their reputation. Just imagine, after successfully undertaking a task of such a magnitude they'd be well prepared for anything coming their way.

Needless to say G4S will now not be seeking to provide security for the next Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. Or the next World Cup. They may well still be re-building the company's reputation in four years time.

While Buckles struggled to explain what had gone wrong, it is obvious that it wasn't down to just one error. From the off, G4S clearly took on more than it was capable of, no one discovered any problems while there was still time to deal with it and the recruitment difficulties were relayed far too late to the relevant people.

There was no plan B in place, nothing to spell out what to do if the team failed to find enough recruits. Astonishingly, even now G4S can't say how many people will turn up to work for them.

The whole performance will cost the company between £35m and £50m and so far its share price had fallen by 17%. It's likely to also cost Buckles his job.

The G4S Facebook page tells its own story of a shambolic recruitment process with the communication problems evident.

The firm is no newcomer to handling large contracts, the company already runs big security jobs in the UK and the rest of the world - it operates in more than 120 countries and has plenty of experience. Staff work in prisons and policing, they supply security to airports and big events such as Wimbledon.

The company seemed a safe pair of hands to deal with arguably the biggest job of the London Games.

However, the Olympic organising committee may have avoided a potentially catastrophic situation by splitting the security contracts up and inviting more and smaller firms to tender for the contracts. It would have made problems infinitely easier to deal with plus smaller firms are likely to have better communication at management level.

Any problems could be dealt with efficiently and quickly and should a firm find that they are unable to fulfil the commitment it is easier to find a replacement. As things stand now, only very large companies of G4S size would be able to come in and supply the workers. Or the armed forces.

On the other side of the coin, any company looking to go for public sector contracts, would do well to read in to this story, note the details and make sure that whatever you do don't take on more than you are actually able to deliver. It's easy to assume your promises will be scrutinised before being awarded the contract but that's clearly not always the case.

Sure, it's tempting to promise more than you can deliver and hope for the best, but the G4S episode, played out in such an excruciatingly public way, should be more than enough reason to steer clear of this strategy.

The last thing you want is to oversee a humiliating shambles. As Nick Buckles can tell you.

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