August 31, 2021

Assessing When to Issue a Tender/RFP for Relocation Services

Be ready to navigate the new normal – take the time to explore partners who are the right fit for today and tomorrow

The last eighteen months or so have profoundly changed nearly every aspect of life. As people, and the organizations that employ them, grapple with how we connect and conduct business now and in the future, many companies are reimagining how they support their talent, with flexibility becoming an important feature of their approach to compensation and benefits, including global mobility. The “Work from Anywhere” phenomenon has resulted in an evaluation of job positions and whether there are types of work that can continue to be performed remotely, while other functional areas require in-office participation, either full- or part-time. In addition, the emergence of virtual assignments has helped fuel the concept of hiring qualified people in any region, bringing the job to the talent, instead of bringing the talent to the job.

Global mobility professionals have embraced these challenges, using their knowledge of taxation, immigration, and the support services provided to relocating employees, to become more involved in the business as advisers and strategic partners.


Adapting to the “new normal” may require a re-evaluation of relocation and assignment policies and processes, as well as an assessment of current external partners and staff, looking at their ability to adapt while providing guidance during a period of change management.


Given the shifting environment, the question of changing providers takes on new importance if organizations perceive deficiencies in advisory or other services provided by their current Relocation Management Company (RMC). When a review and potential revision of policy (or policies) is anticipated, making the move to a provider of relocation services with an experienced consulting team makes sense, particularly given their ability to incorporate a comprehensive re-imagining of processes and procedures as the mobility program and policies change. The selection of an RMC is most often conducted via a tender, RFI (Request for Information) and/or RFP (Request for Proposal) process, as it enables buyers to be specific about their selection criteria as stakeholders compare features, functionality, cultural fit, and price across potential suppliers. Procurement typically runs this activity on a pre-scheduled basis, but we are seeing many companies accelerate this process to find the best partner after using time during slowdown of actual relocation activity to review, analyze, and revise their mobility program in anticipation of the “new normal.”

Next Steps

The cost to change is always an underlying feature of a tender process and according to various sources, a typical RFP involves between 7 and 9 people in the buying organization and may take from 3 to 4 months to complete, though contract negotiations can extend the final timeline. Given the time and money invested in an RFP, and the uncertainty of the current environment, organizations would be well served to consider these next steps, which may include all or some of the following:

    • Review potential relocation partners now in light of their ability to be consultative and solutions-based.
    • Meet with relocation management companies prior to issuing a tender, or forwarding an RFI first, to answer basic questions about their capabilities.
    • Look at companies that offer flexible options for all levels of relocating employees, using technology to enhance the employee experience while providing business intelligence and analytics to support decision-making.
    • Consider contracting with a new vendor without utilizing the tender process if service failures by the incumbent are numerous and remedies were not proposed.
        • Build a business case to support a no-bid contract by understanding your organization’s specific business issues.
        • Talk with references from potential supplier(s) who can attest to their capabilities and service levels.

Sterling Lexicon recommends taking the time to issue an RFP for relocation services before volume picks up. For many organizations, things are still largely fluid as vaccines are made more widely available, case numbers are monitored across regions and cross-border travel conditions are updated. Once companies resume full domestic and global activity, the daily management of the program will likely supersede efforts to secure the best qualified supplier to help control costs while ensuring compliance across different policy types and locations worldwide. Our industry has experienced significant change over the past 18 months and will undoubtedly undergo more transformation as the Duty of Care philosophy becomes ingrained and employers seek RMC partners to help them navigate the future of mobility and the new ways of working.

Need help knowing where to start? Be sure to familiarize yourself with not only traditional levels of relocation policy support, but some of the more flexible or hybrid models that can help you round out your suite of offerings.

We can help you prepare an RFI/RFP/Tender that asks all the right questions to determine the best partner for your organization. See the Top Ten Questions to ask in a relocation services RFP.

When you’re ready, we can also share sample RFIs and RFPs to get you started. Contact us to learn more.


Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson is Sterling Lexicon’s Director, Client Solutions, and has worked in the global mobility industry for more than 20 years. She has held management positions in business development, operations, account management, and consulting, and had the opportunity to live and work in Tokyo and Hong Kong for six years. She initiated destination services in Hong Kong for a relocation management company and directed global mobility for Goldman Sachs in the APAC region. She graduated from Colgate University, earned an MBA from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and maintains a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) certification from SHRM.

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