Facility relocation projects can be long and complex efforts. Among the milestones on the path to a successful move is site selection—where will people and/or operations go? Before committing to a new location, developing the move schedule, and finalizing the project plan, you should conduct a site assessment to identify any changes that need to be made to meet your needs and be ready for move-in.
Below are some steps project teams can take to understand what goes into a site assessment and prepare for a productive location visit.
Gather details about your business needs
The list of things to check out at each site usually breaks down into three buckets: requirements, expectations, and nice-to-haves. The requirements are often non-negotiable, but the expectations—items that don’t rise to the level of a requirement—and any optional requests should be prioritized ahead of time. If you rank these elements before conducting your site assessment, you’ll be able to use your team’s time more effectively and avoid getting bogged down in non-critical minutiae.
Assemble a site assessment team
You may not be able to bring together the full group of experts that will ultimately need to visit your shortlist of preferred location. However, you should start with a team that can evaluate the majority of your firm’s baseline requirements. Mobilize internal subject matter experts, from production line supervisors to maintenance personnel and engineers. Your group may also include tradespeople, such as electricians if your utility needs are significant, compliance experts who can weigh in on any investments that may be necessary to bring the proposed site up to regulatory standards, and trusted advisors from your project management consultancy partner.
Identify external contacts who can help provide additional information
There may be details you need to confirm prior to selecting a site. You might also have questions or concerns that evolve into negotiation points once it’s time to enter into a lease or purchase contract. Some of this information may be outside your internal group’s area of expertise, so consider which external contacts would be most helpful in closing out your site assessment. In many cases, a property manager or landlord can provide important details about the building and grounds. A municipal building liaison, sometimes from the local permitting or building inspection office, may also have insight into requirements for (or prohibitions against) changes to the site.
Set aside adequate time
You want to have enough time available during your onsite visit to address the questions you already know you have, as well as to maintain the flexibility to explore anything new that may come up once you arrive. Reserve time for discussions related to each of the major areas or functional spaces you intend to evaluate. Encourage those who will participate in the site visit to come prepared with any questions of their own. While the team is sure to have additional post-assessment discussions and inquiries, you don’t want to abbreviate the onsite evaluation and lose the value of a hands-on visit simply because the schedule was too tight.
Be prepared to document your findings and recommendations
Post-visit reports are often detailed, multi-layered, and complex. Understand how you will compile your findings ahead of time so you can maintain a clear vision of what you want to achieve during the visit. A comprehensive site report that’s carefully structured with highly relevant data will be useful in keeping the organization’s senior leadership team apprised of the latest developments. It can also serve as a roadmap with clear and actionable risks, opportunities, and recommendations for the next steps in your facility relocation project.