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Top Ten Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them:

Common mistakes while mobilising a project, along with tips to prevent them from happening.

We always talk about successful mobilisations however, do we ever remember the 'close shaves', the incidents and challenges that nearly knocked us off track?

#1 - DATA

We can mobilise without data, it does not matter?

Actually data is the most critical component of the whole process. From pre-award right through to stablisation.

Every decision that is made during the bid stage and (if awarded) mobilisation is based on the quality of the information received.

Pricing the bid, if you do not have TUPE information for example, how can you evaluate your risks and liabilities, insurances and internal resourcing costs? If employee data is not present you must request it, time spent without data impacts on your mobilisation timeline and escalates your risks.

Serviceline data: Any gap in service information creates a risk to your baseline budget, service delivery, resourcing and supply chain strategy. If working on a total facilities management project, it is important to check each service line by line, note down any questions that come to mind, check through documentation provided from both the Client, your bid and operational teams. Any gaps ask questions and obtain the detail as soon as possible. If you are working in partnership with a supplier you have a duty of care to ensure they can provide the best possible solution for you and your Client.

Building Information: Floor plans are always great however we do not always have access to them (the reason why is not really important), what is important is finding a way to understand the building(s) you are going to be managing.

Thank goodness for Google Earth and Satellite technology that allows us to get some perspective of the building(s).

Always take advantage of site visits they are invaluable for understanding the building assets, their condition and flag up any potential risks and issues.

#2 - TUPE

Don't worry the staff will all transfer on day 1…

This assumption can lead to sleepless nights and hours of phone time trying to find resources to cover a location because you have not considered, or just assumed that staff who have the freedom to choose whether they want to join your company or not will transfer.

Heavy engagement with the existing operational team goes a long way to creating confidence and building trust with the employee. Make the decision easy for them to 'without question' join your company and continue delivering services.

It is a win : win and you get to retain invaluable building knowledge which, when a long standing employee moves on is simply lost.

The digital age, SharePoint, Teams etc.. now make knowledge more transparent and easy to capture thus reducing the risk building and service data being not being retained for the site. Make sure you have contingencies in place either through internal resources, your supply chain partners or recruitment agencies. Depending on the remoteness of the services you will be delivering, you may need a combination of all three as a solution to cover and manage any staffing requirements.

Ensure employee contracts are developed and signed as soon as all consultations are complete. This will provide some assurance.

­­­­­­#3 - LEAD TIMES

We have got this in the bag the timescales …Oh S****!!

Why do we always think we have enough time when we have to mobilise technology, licenses, install infrastructures, order IT kit, furniture, set up our Redcare lines and transfer fire and security alarms to our monitoring control centres? the list is not exhaustive however these key servicelines can get missed. Understand your project timelines, how much slack you have, what your critical path is and stick to it. Understand the firewalls, open and closed protocols for your IT and integration with Client portals and/or systems, start all the discussions which have potential long lead times early, the worst scenario is;

1. having new employees onboarded with no tools to work and learn about your business from day 1

2. no access to building services

3. alarms on buildings not being responded to or supported.

Always opt for prevention, do not wait, if you do, it will be too late.


Communication remains King in any given mobilisation and project especially when incumbent suppliers are being retained

The supply chain plays an integral part in the success of your mobilisation and ensuring no disruption of payments when changing from the incumbent to the new service provider should be given high priority.

Suppliers that have delivered services to a Client for many years are often loyal to the Client and as such are (in the majority of cases) unlikely to just stop delivering their services when you take over. I say this with confidence however, the fact remains that we must make clear what new payment arrangements are and how the suppliers are to communicate with you when submitting their invoices (once costs and service levels are confirmed and finalised).

As a suggestion prioritise services by due date into High, Medium and Low. Focus on the high priority services which will include, life safety, fire and security. If you are mobilising a high volume of suppliers across multiple locations, it is important use this method to keep track and keep control. Email merges are great to sharing the same message with multiple suppliers. Be careful, remember to personalise your messages and change content to reflect different legal entities and invoicing methods.

Make sure you make clear to the supplier what they should do up to the day before and after you take over.

Call to Action - Five points;

1. Provide the legal entity and billing address

2. Specify the invoicing format (i.e. excel sheet with breakdown of services backup)

3. Specify the invoicing method (i.e. via email or service provider portal)

4. Important dates for billing and statements

5. Points of contact for queries and invoice support


When are consultations going to take place with employees to transfer?... Have the Helpdesk team been briefed about points of contact at all levels of the new organisational team structure? Are you keeping up your Client briefings?...

Your HR mobilisation lead and team must engage at the earliest opportunity with the potential employees to transfer. You must ensure that the helpdesk are not forgotten in the mobilisation process. The helpdesk may be the focal point for all callouts, escalations and at times (depending on your structure), raise purchase orders for your suppliers.

Ensure you have a communication strategy, develop a RACI matrix to identify stakeholders that should be included in your communication plan. Remember to ask yourself, who is responsible, accountable, neds to be communicated with and who needs to be informed. This will put you in a good position ensuring the right people in the process are not missed.


Limiting your liabilities - Access to Contracts and understanding service notice periods

We discussed the importance of data as part of mobilisation. Understanding when services terminate has to be raised to the forefront when working out your procurement/sourcing strategy. Timing is governed by the go live dates you have and where the termination periods for each supplier occur for their services.

These periods will drive decisions for service and supply chain and confirm if it is okay to take on services from day one without any financial termination penalties.

As a rule, vending, leases or hire equipment should be on your watchlist. Discuss and raise issues with your mobilisation lead on discovery.

Termination periods will not always impact on your mobilisation when the Client agrees to terminate all contracts as part of the mobilisation process on commencement of the project. Yes welcome reprieve from worrying about termination periods?

No call to action, you still have to;

1. Cross check the Client has terminated all contracts and obtain a copy of the termination letters from your Client

2. You must obtain express permission from the Client in writing to open up discussions with suppliers you may want to engage with as part of your supply chain strategy

3. Be mindful that some contracts may be discovered during the mobilisation process -your due diligence is a process that will continue for the duration of the project.

Benefits of Client terminations are that there are no novations, working to terms outside your control and you are free to contract and negotiate on your terms and conditions thus limiting your contractual and commercial liabilities.

#7 - Client Approvals

You really should seek Client approvals when you come across variations to the bid, your proposal or findings during your due diligence process. This is a short section because it is very straight forward, a change and variation process must be agreed with the Client in order for the mobilisation to run smoothly. Just be open and transparent. No surprises from either party. Ensure you track and document all findings and changes, include variations as part of your reporting process.

#8 - Contract Sign Off

Do you have a signed contract? If not how are you going to protect your company and your people.

Admitted at times your projects are going have such a short lead in time you cannot physically complete the contract in time, or can you? The quickest we ever completed a contract was 24 hours from issuance to signing by both parties.. Impossible you may say but actually it is not.

There is a lot of credence in building strong relationships with your preferred suppliers. There is an absolute necessity to have forms of contracts that you can work with in your business. From the supplier perspective be prepared to work with large corporates on their terms and conditions (of course there is room to negotiate some clauses), however, the terms to accept will more often than not be back to back with the Client agreements already negotiated and at times already signed.

During mobilisations, the contract negotiations tend to run parallel and we will always strive to have all contracts in place for Day 1. You may ask what a full blown contract? 70 pages?!! Not always the case. A purchase order reflecting the terms and conditions is a contract, a letter of intent is a form of contract. You need to assess what can be put in place in the time that you have and keep talking to your Client and your supply chain partners.

#9 - Due Diligence

Seriously you not gonna check that?

Due diligence is a word we use frequently when mobilising. It is the backbone to your success and is you best friend. The activity can be very time consuming however, without it, how will you know what is actually going on operationally, with the staff, in the buildings, with the suppliers? Your due diligence aides decision making, prevents, errors during the process and is your ‘crystal ball’. Information received for all of your workstreams and servicelines without question has to be validated and challenged.

From the supply chain perspective, part of your due diligence has to incorporate understanding when services are due be it before, during or after go live is key to mitigating and managing your service delivery transition.

Scenarios Q&A?

Q: What if a service you are taking over occurs before go live?

A: The service should still go ahead and will be part of the incumbent/Clients responsibility to pay if payment falls due before go live

Q: What if payment is due after go live for the service?

A: Ensure that the budget is transferred across to you so that you can pay the supplier

Q: What if the service occurs after go live?

A: Note when the service is due and prioritise ensuring the services close to go live are in place first. Payments will be directly from the new service provider

Due diligence remember is about using your common sense, if there is a gap or a query, question it, challenge and find the answer. Escalate if you have to.. any gaps in knowledge or information are identified as risks to your mobilisation.

#10 - No Mobilisation Plan or Risk Register

You’ve got to be kidding me! – You do not have a mobilisation plan?

Rule number 1 even if you write it on a scrap of paper, you absolutely have must have a plan. We are all working to tight timelines and yes at times you don’t even have time to complete and keep the plans updated collate the information form multiple teams then pull it altogether before the next reporting session is due.

Guess what? Fast paced mobilisations this comes with the territory and you have to find a way to manage the admin that is associated with it.

Some quick tips

1. Make information accessible to all through a portal or sharepoint

2. Encourage group chats that keep the email traffic down and enable you to keep up with what is happening

3. Try and use a single source one version of the truth, instead of multiple documents – one document can be repurposed, sliced and diced for multiple types of reporting required as part of your project.

The risk register – Hummm. Who ever has a perfect mobilisation? We certainly have not however, I have to say the risk register has been my close companion during some quite complex mobilisations.

You may ask what am I classing as a risk? Well for the purposes of mobilising, a risk is anything event, action, whether it be financial, operational, legal, technical, resource related (and the list can go on), that throws you off plan or has been discovered once you have embarked on the project.

It is important to record, monitor and track risks to resolution whenever possible.

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