Ian Solomon, chair of the AEO Ops Working Group, looks back on some of the group’s recent initiatives, and introduces a new one.
Many event professionals agree that the ops function is the go-to function for advice, support and guidance on how an event should and shouldn’t be managed and what can and cannot take place. It’s flattering to be so in-demand, but it can also be mind boggling.
To be a great ops professional, you need to understand the challenges, the pressures and the realities that all of the various stakeholders have at events. This is true whether it is exhibitors, visitors, venues or suppliers as well as peers within other functions of the business. The key to success is to find a solution with the right balance for all parties. Basically, if you’ve considered a career as a diplomat you’ll have all the perfect traits to be an ops professional!
This is certainly the view taken by the AEO Ops Working Group, which is why it’s been so successful ni helping to overcome some of the larger challenges that our industry has faced such as changes in electrical and CDM (construction design and management) regulations and issues in health and safety such as highlighting the need for safe working at height.
The AEO Ops Working Group is made up of almost 20 very active ops directors which means there’s a broad cross-section of businesses working together to find solutions to common issues and, because of the dedication of the group, the speed of implementing change has been particularly impressive.
Stop the Drop, for example, was launched 18 months ago specifically to promote safe working at height in the events industry. The initiative has now been widely adopted with many contractors, organisers and venues using the resources, such as training videos, posters and risk assessment templates, on site to train staff and inform customers during build-up and break down.
Some venues and contractors have even rebranded their livery so the safe working at height message reaches an even wider audience. The resources have been so well received that the AEO team has had other industries that work at height, such as rail and utilities, asking if they can use them for their own audiences. There is clearly a need for this type of easy to understand information and, as a result of greater visibility onsite, members of the working group have seen a definite improvement in safety procedures and the use of the correct equipment.
The Ops Group is now working on a suite of resources developed by the Cross-Association Security Sub Group to support event security and enable members working in the ops function to raise the importance of security with customers, colleagues, contractors and other stakeholders. Current security resources include an example of a good Dot plan, a security risk assessment, a guide to security planning and a supplier assurance questionnaire for the detection of explosives.
To house all of this important information, the AEO has just launched the Ops Hub where these and other resources can be downloaded to help ops professionals help others. All AEO members have access to the Ops Hub which is in the Member Zone of the AEO website – if you’ve not got your log-in please contact the AEO team and they’ll be happy to help you.
The idea for the Ops Hub was born out of the security session at the AEO Conference in 2017 and, since then, AEO has worked closely with sister associations, AEV and ESSA, to develop security related content for members. In addition, the Ops Hub features general health and safety information, posters and statistics developed by industry experts to compliment established guidance produced by the HSE and other regulators and supporting bodies.
The Ops Hub will continue to evolve, and we hope it becomes a vital information portal for anyone working within operations. Our next priority is to create best practice guidance on rigging for complex structures.
If there are other topics you would like help with please let us know and we will include it on the agenda of the next working group meeting. AEO is also working on the content for the Ops Forum in January, if you have a subject you think would help you or your team send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you work in ops, there are so many people to please and you’re expected to be an expert in everything. There is, however, support available. It’s just knowing where to look – check out the Ops Hub and let us know what you think.