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The 'Supply Chain' Disassembled

The ability to manage vendors and the complex logistics of employee relocation is no longer seen as something that differentiates the RMC, it is a bare minimum requirement to even enter the space.

The relocation industry is poised for significant disruption and transformation in the decade ahead. This means that traditional structures and practices are changing, adapting, and improving as they become irrelevant or no longer provide the end-value they once did to both Clients and their Employees.

One such area is the traditional concept of the ‘Supply Chain’.

Many Relocation Management Companies (RMC’s) have historically hyped their value as experienced relocation supply chain companies as this was seen as the primary role of the RMC. Managing the complex hierarchy of suppliers and vendors involved in an employee relocation was seen as the central defining competency of the RMC.

This is changing.

The ability to manage vendors and the complex logistics of employee relocation is no longer seen as something that differentiates the RMC, it is a bare minimum requirement to even enter the space.

At CRI, we consider ourselves not only an innovator, but we tend to disrupt and differentiate through one simple principle: service. We are constantly challenging the traditional norms of mobility and relocation and continuously asking ourselves how we can be more versatile to always improve the service we bring to our Clients and their Employees. It is also why we don’t call ourselves a traditional RMC but a Relocation Service Provider (we stopped short at calling ourselves an Employee Experience company – even though that is what we live, breathe, and make ourselves accountable to deliver every day).

So, as we continued to examine how to improve quality and minimize cost – we quickly realized that this concept of supply chain management was outdated. What’s worse, it has become an intractable ingredient of the relocation and mobility recipe that has slowed progress in taking service excellence to the next level while also reducing the overall expense for mobility Clients.

Enter the Ecosystem.

The Ecosystem operates entirely differently than a Supply Chain.

From the perspective of an employee relocation, think of the traditional RMC supply chain as an elevator in a 10-storey building. The RMC is on the top floor with the relocation file and this is where the relocating employee starts. They must then take their file and stop on each floor in order to move through the relocation process. And on each floor, they must interact with a different vendor in that supply chain before adding that vendors information to their file and proceeding to the next floor. They can only complete the relocation process once they arrive at the 1st floor.

By the time the employee reaches the final and 1st floor, they have interacted with a mind-numbing number of vendors and they are holding a file that is thick, heavy and overflowing with disorganized information and instructions all on 8 different forms of letterhead. Oh, and that file eventually gets translated into a Client invoice with all the fees picked up from each vendor along the way. Meanwhile, the RMC is waiting on the 10th floor for the Employee to call up and let them know how everything went.

Employee Experience = Poor. Client Satisfaction = Poor.

An Ecosystem works more like…well….an Ecosystem! Each part of the process is connected but instead of stopping at each floor to complete the next part of the process, interactions between providers happen in real-time, directly and at the time of need. Service providers work on the same ground floor together and the relocation service provider and its consultants are right there with the end customer (the Employee) when they are in need of the service. At the end of the process, the Employee never sees the file and it remains thin because each interaction in the process represents a single-step or handshake between providers to deliver the service. And guess what…? Costs are shed along the way because the system is modular as opposed to linear and hierarchical.

In the Ecosystem, partners provide service at the time of need and have a direct relationship with the RMC in the provision and pricing of that service component. They are not 4 or 5, or even 8 floors below, disconnected from the employee experience and the costs incurred along their journey. It is a single-step partnership, utilized only when and precisely how it is needed in order to deliver a high-quality and productive experience for the employee (and their employer).

In the traditional supply chain approach, the process drives efficiencies for the RMC. In the Ecosystem approach, the effort shifts to the RMC or relocation service provider with the efficiencies transferring to the Client and their Employees.

It’s simply, more work for the relocation service provider to assess, invite, improve quality standard, and manage relationships with direct partners than it is to sit atop the supply chain and let the work happen through the layers. But the effort is worth it.

As costs correct for Clients and Employee retention and productivity improves as a result of superior quality, all stakeholders in the relocation process benefit.

In short, the Client no longer pays excessive fees for a disjointed supply chain but receives appropriate value for their spend with the assurance that the relocation service provider is intimately involved in the process of delivering quality for their transferring employees. The accountability and effort is borne by the relocation service provider as opposed to being dispersed and sub-divided throughout a tangled and mystifyingly complex supply chain.

Innovation is born.

When an RMC is 2, 3 (or 8!?!) steps removed from the provision of service, it is nearly impossible to gain insight and become intimately knowledgeable with the product and service offerings of the vendor. In an Ecosystem, the relocation service provider works so tightly with their network of partners, that familiarity and understanding is a natural outcome of the Ecosystem.

On a day-to-day operations level, this means that the relocation service provider is part of the process. This enables the relocation service provider to know, inside and out, the needs and expectations of the Employee and their Client. And it provides invaluable education into future Client and Employee needs, how expectations are evolving.

Ecosystem partnerships offer a road map to what services will be most relevant and needed in the future.

Ecosystem participants, because of their direct relationship, are naturally positioned to identify, develop and partner to deliver the innovative products and services for the future.