Transitions cost both parties a considerable amount of sweat equity and financial resources. Supply chain personnel and security stakeholders are typically exhausted from weeks or even months of RFP development and evaluating bids before selecting a winner. But if the actual preparation prior to and during a handover to a new 3rd party provider isn’t part of the selection criteria or is mishandled, then the drain on those internal resources will continue.
Continuity of operations while the incoming provider manages the learning curve is the key risk of any transition. There are a number of considerations and critical tasks that need to be addressed with client stakeholder involvement in advance to ensure the transition doesn’t become the part of the iceberg you didn’t see. A detailed transition plan and schedule are critical to keeping the ship steered in the right direction. To accomplish that it should be a crucial element in the bid evaluation and a clear plan of action should be in place.
Critical time can be lost after a purchasing decision and award has been made due to the negotiation of terms and conditions, contract execution and purchase order issuance, among other things. Suppliers commence incurring costs in recruiting, equipment, expenses, and management time almost immediately after an award is made to support a transition. While much of this cost is not billed to the customer, the time and lost productivity of key stakeholders involved from the buyer side are also squandered when the official commitments are not available to action off of in advance of the transition date.
It’s often joked that the new provider will just come in during a transition and change the patch on the security personnel uniform sleeves and be done. While incumbent staff members are advantageous to retain given their site knowledge, it is a much more involved process than this. Incumbent staff are communicated with and encouraged to apply for the successor company. However, they must go through the new provider’s application and vetting process as well. Inevitably there will be some that do not meet the new employment standards or have a possible transgression in their background that needs to be adjudicated.
Contract changes can be stressful for employees and there are also likely members of the incumbent staff who may not wish to change employer. Remember that a single 24/7 security post entails approximately 5-6 employees to staff given work schedules. It takes time to properly recruit, vet, hire, and train personnel in a highly regulated environment. It’s important for involved parties to communicate early and effectively throughout this process to limit the impact of staffing issues throughout a transition.
Collaborate with your internal stakeholders and provider, both incoming and outgoing, to set a timeline and work collectively towards it. Document a detailed transition plan which outlines tasks and milestones with a schedule that are to be completed prior to transition. Once a transition plan has been finalized and a date set, it should not be shrouded in mystery for the outgoing provider and ultimately their employees. Coordinate that announcement with the incoming supplier so that they can contact employees in close succession to limit the fast passed nature of the rumor mill.
If it turns out that you are not ready to throw the switch and change on the initially planned date, extend the incumbent on a month to month basis until you are. There is no reason to rush the changeover if it can be postponed until an orderly well managed transition can take place. The last thing all parties need is a rushed deadline approach that jeopardizes continuity of essential security services and introduces risks that could have been avoided through a professional approach. It’s common in the industry for contracts to change hands. When a supplier’s customer has decided to end services they will typically appreciate an adequate time to plan ahead, play a role in the handover, and transition out competently.