20/10/09

Moving Office can be a complicated, time consuming, stressful and potentially expensive journey into an unknown world. Statistics from the International Facility Management Association reveal that, “on average, 2/3 of employees who are given the task of managing an office relocation are fired or quit within six months of the move.”

Jeremy Carr-Smith, Managing Director of Moving Office Ltd, believes that there some fundamental reasons for this frightening statistic. Moving Office’s own research shows that on average a company will only move office once every seven years and in 70% of cases the person assigned to manage the office move is doing so for the first time. This means that the office move project is typically managed by people without the experience, skill-set or time to handle such an important role. Secondly, in Carr-Smith’s opinion, companies moving office do not follow a strategic process when mapping out and implementing their office relocation project.

Carr-Smith outlines the key areas where an office move can go wrong and offers some practical guidance about how to avoid them.

1. Having no clear direction
Unless everyone is clear as to the rationale, requirements, objectives and limitations behind the move, subsequent planning and the execution of the move will be severely hampered. There are some big decisions that must be agreed, by the key decisions makers within the company, as the start point and which will form the basis of the subsequent detailed planning process. These include:
• WHAT: moving to smaller, bigger, better, cheaper premises?
• WHERE: do we want to move to?
• WHEN: do we have to be in by?

2. Not having the right moving office project team
Having a poor office move team can only increase the chances of a chaotic, stressful and late move which is over-budget. One person must be put in charge of the move. The Project Leader (typically a Director or Senior Manager) must have enough time to devote to the office move project — and should: have the trust of senior management; the authority to act on behalf of the company; be senior enough to be able to make decisions; be a good organiser of people and processes; have experience of setting and working within budgets; and be a good communicator.

The Project Leader must then assemble a team to help plan and execute the office move. The Office Move Project Leader should be appointed as soon as the decision to consider moving office has been made.

3. Leaving it too late
If you start your planning late, it can lead to a botched move — with rushed decisions, increased costs, fewer options and a less favourable negotiating position. There’s a lot to do, so the earlier you start the greater the chance of achieving a successful office move. It’s impossible to start planning too early. Best practice says that you should start reviewing your options 9-18 months prior to your lease expiration (or lease break) regardless of whether you are considering renewing, renegotiation or relocating.

It is vital that you allow enough lead-time to increase the amount of leverage and competition between the various options — which can result in substantial savings for you.

4. Lack of project planning and preparation
If you fail to prepare, you may well be preparing to fail. Moving office is a major project and needs to be planned properly. There are so many things to consider when you move office, not least having to continue to run your business and focus on your existing workload and commitments. No wonder moving is ranked as one of life’s most stressful events. The prospect of organising an office move is a daunting process. But like any process, it can be broken down into a series of simple tasks and checks.

5. Unrealistic budgeting
An office move with an unrealistic budget will lead to an overrun on costs. Moving office without a clear and realistic idea of budgets is as ludicrous as trying to navigate without a map.

A rough budget may well have been set at the outset, but this will need to be fully developed to incorporate all moving office cost items at the current/appropriate levels. You will need to get quotes about everything. If you do, you will remain in control of your move costs; if not, you will get cost creep. The best weapon against overspending is to set a realistic budget and stick to it.

6. Trying to do it yourself
Thinking of trying to save money by taking on the component parts of the office move yourself? Think again. It is highly likely to end up as a false economy. Moving to a new office is a major operational and financial commitment and a successful office move requires a collaborative effort, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of moving office professionals. Their fees are not large when considered against the total costs of a lease over the length of its term. In fact, when compared against the costs of making a move to the wrong building, or even to the right building on the wrong terms, they are very small indeed. Similarly, trying to do the office refit and removals on the cheap may well cost more in the long run.

7. Poor communication
If you don’t keep the lines of communication open to all interested parties, internal and external, frustration and poor execution will result. There will be some people, both internal and external, who you will need to consult for their input to the planning process; there will be others who need to be informed; and everyone needs to be regularly updated to keep their interest and motivation levels high.

You can download the full Seven Deadly Sins of Moving Office document along with more free information, guides and checklists from Moving Office

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