June 15, 2023

How to Conduct a Successful Relocation Management Company Implementation

Top 5 steps to take to ensure a seamless transition

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” 
– Socrates

Onboarding a new relocation management company is a multi-layered, complex process, but it shouldn’t be a difficult one. Achieve a smooth transition by following a set of essential steps and focusing on the new relationships and solutions you’re building for better experiences. 


As you embark on an implementation, there are a few essential things to keep in mind:

  • Stay Flexible. Having a firm project plan and timeline in place is key, but where possible, maintain agility throughout the process and be ready to adjust as needed.
  • Document everything. Communication is key, and you’ll want to ensure all parties have access to the discussions, decisions, changes and processes agreed to. This will not only help you ensure an easier transition but will be your go-to guide when educating other stakeholders in the business about how, when and why decisions were made.

Step 1: Know Your Goals

The goals and priorities of your relocation program must be clearly defined and well understood by all. Are you experiencing service failures or seeing increasing numbers of policy exception requests? Is your program growing, requiring you to expand your relocation service offerings or geographic reach? Are you focused on minimizing spend, or is delivering a more competitive or flexible suite of services your top priority? 

These questions will undoubtedly have been answered and your goals defined as you began exploring your service partner options, well before implementation begins. However, that process takes time. There may have been some market or business changes prompting slight shifts in priorities. Or, you may have had a few illuminating “ah-ha” moments uncovered during the discovery or request for information (RFI)/request for proposal (RFP) stages that make a re-visit worthwhile. If anything needs to be adjusted from a process or policy perspective, now is the time to do it, and ensure all your stakeholders agree. Which brings us to…

Step 2: Define Your Key Stakeholders and their Roles and Responsibilities 

Different individuals will be brought into the process at different times, but it’s important to identify the complete list of every person needed and what their roles and responsibilities will be. As you build your timeline, you can ensure their availability and willingness to commit to the tasks that require their input and expertise for the implementation to progress. Investing the time to do this right early on will help you keep on track. At a minimum, the list of essential individuals will include representatives from your HR/global mobility team, business unit leaders, IT/HRIS, accounting/payroll, tax, legal, executive-level sponsors, any other relocation services providers you are working with and of course, your RMC team. Including recently transferred employees (or bringing in anonymous survey data) will give the team the benefit of direct customer experience feedback as well.

Step 3: Tailor Your Project Plan and Timeline to Your Engagement Scope

Every implementation process is unique. How many people are involved, how long it will take and what specific actions will be needed will depend on such factors as:

  • Your program size including how many policies you have for different workforce populations, such as homeowners, renters, domestic and cross-border moves, and tiers of support by job level
  • Your program scope and the benefits that align with each policy type
  • How many employees are currently in transition  
  • What types of relationships are in place with other service providers, including any contractual, preferred or other types of service agreements
  • Your HRIS or other related payroll and reporting systems and to what level you will integrate these with your RMC’s tech solution
  • The availability of all participants to engage in the necessary meetings and complete interdependent tasks

How much time should you allow? 

Generally speaking, you should plan on a minimum of 6-12 weeks, but your specific timeline will depend on the variables noted above, and what’s driving your transition. If you are experiencing urgent service failures, for example, your new RMC will work with you to expedite the process.

A good rule of thumb is to build in some buffers around your target go-live date to allow for quality assurance testing AND the unexpected – technology hiccups, for example, or an unplanned lack of availability on the part of key participants.

“The best policies are built by exploring a holistic set of data points: program goals, size, scope, primary geographic regions, company culture, budget, employee demographics and feedback. All these need to be looked at together to make the best mobility program development decisions for your company and your mobile talent.”

Liz Portalla, VP, Client Services and Innovation
Sterling Lexicon

Step 4: Establish Your Processes 

It’s helpful to break the implementation process down into manageable phases across the entire relocation journey, from initiation all the way through to employee satisfaction measurement. Here is where you will review your current policies and processes to define and agree on such key things as:

  • Initiations and workflows
  • Approvals
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Expense disbursements and how they will be delivered 
  • Invoicing requirements and process
  • Tax treatment of relocation expenses and possible tax assistance
  • Which preferred service providers the team is required to work with, if any
  • System integrations
  • Exception management
  • System tailoring to client specifications and data fields
  • Progress tracking and reporting

This is the stage at which you will define how all service providers will work together and decide how to treat those employees currently in transition. If a move has been initiated but not yet started, it can likely be successfully handed over to the new team to manage, depending on the urgency of the need and your project timeline. For those employees who have started their moves, it’s probably best to complete them with your prior provider to avoid too much disruption.

Step 5: Test and Train

Once you’ve agreed upon policy and process specifics and completed all testing to ensure integrations are fully operational, it’s time to conduct in-depth training sessions with all account management and administration team members and a final round of testing and reviews on connected systems and reports.

Once go-live day comes, don’t forget to measure and report on the implementation process – a step that’s as important as tracking the relocation service program itself.  When done exceptionally well – and thoroughly documented – the relocation management company implementation can serve as a model for other areas of the business onboarding new service partners, too.


Kristin White

Kristin White

Kristin brings nearly 30 years of experience in global workforce mobility, PR, marketing, editorial planning and communications to her role as a member of the thought leadership and content development teams. Before joining the company in 2020, she worked for many years at Worldwide ERC® in collaboration with cross-departmental teams and industry stakeholders to develop in-person and virtual event programming, digital and print content, and served as editor of Mobility magazine. Contact Kristin at kristin.white@sterlinglexicon.com.

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