ALL ABOARD - Four Key Considerations When Migrating to a New RE Services Provider

There’s no getting around it. The prospect of onboarding your vital corporate real estate workstreams - brokerage, project management, transaction management, facilities management, lease administration, technology, and data - to a new real estate services provider can be daunting. But, while concerns about business disruption and risk may be valid, they are merely functions of the migration process itself.

A methodical, strategic, and collaborative approach to onboarding, led by subject matter experts, will not only mitigate risk and minimize disruption, it will provide a strong foundation for future operations.
This blog highlights four key considerations when an organization decides to migrate to a new real estate services provider.
1.    Collaboration and subject matter expertise is a must!
The goal of any service provider should be to deliver a seamless onboarding process, one that ensures its client’s day-to-day business runs unimpeded. The key is collaboration - ongoing, structured engagement between the service provider’s consultants and the appropriate stakeholders within your organization, during both the pre-planning and project execution phases.
The provider consultants you collaborate with will include individuals permanently assigned to, and specifically trained in new client onboarding; however, in a best-case scenario, the team should also include on-demand subject matter resources, individuals with real-world expertise in, and a working knowledge of best practices in each of the workstreams.
The consultants should explore with you your organization’s priorities, its internal and external processes, and any company initiatives or projects – underway or planned – that could be impacted by onboarding/transition work. Likewise, collaboration should yield a solid understanding of business objectives, any contractual constraints, RE acquisition plans, any 3rd party Service Level Agreements. Insight into each of these factors and a proactive plan to confront or work around them will minimize business disruption, associated costs, and legal risk.

2.    Pre-plan, Pre-plan, Pre-plan. Then, pre-plan a little more.
Pre-planning and collaboration are inextricably linked. The collaborative, discovery-oriented activities, such as those discussed above, should be front-loaded, feeding critical information into a 2 to 3-week pre-planning/mobilization period, which then drives the outcome everybody wants – a successful, seamless onboarding process. 
Other critical steps in the pre-planning/mobilization methodology include:
•    Establishing data ownership and a data transfer process
•    Developing a change communication philosophy (to prevent anxiety among rank-and-file personnel)
•    Identifying ‘hot’ projects and ‘in progress’ project lifecycles and priorities
•    Preparing a detailed onboarding/transition plan collaboratively
3.    Speed leads to risk.
The lure of speed impacts the way some service providers and their clients approach the onboarding process itself, tempting them to compress it into a 90-day or shorter completion window – an assurance commonly made by many providers. 
A desire to complete the transition quickly is an understandable one; however, compressing schedules inevitably leads to mistakes and increases the risk of business disruption.  The pre-planning phase may uncover issues (workstream teams reviewing data could identify issues with data quality, for example) that require additional time and attention during the onboarding process. It’s dangerous to believe that every client and every onboard process is the same, that there’s a one-size-fits-all plan; it’s just not true. A well-executed pre-planning phase will allow the service provider to tailor a schedule suited not only to your business operations but to resolving any issues exposed through the collaborative pre-planning process.
You need to expect some modification to the standard onboarding methodology and prepare to be flexible.

4.    Always remember the core objective.
It's important to view onboarding beyond the real estate workstreams. Both you and the service provider need to adopt an enterprise-wide perspective, evaluating the operational impact on projects that may not be related to real estate – all in the service of proactively mitigating risk and delivering the onboarding/transition process together.
The main objective is a smooth, well-planned migration process that strengthens your operational foundation, setting the stage for future success.

LeighAnn Lilly
Global Head, Account Transitions, GCS

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