Virtually any move is plagued by risk, and some won't be known until disaster strikes. The key to success is assessing known risks and planning appropriate countermeasures.

If you are moving products or processes to another location, you need to assess the complexity of the move, the business risks, and how to minimize those risks. You can measure the complexity of the move by ranking each of these 10 factors in terms of its complexity. Generally, if three or more factors are rated "high" in terms of complexity, you are dealing with a high-risk move that must be carefully planned and managed to ensure success.

1. Product complexity.
Low: Commodity product. Easily assembled. No critical tolerances.
Medium: Moderately complex product and performance specifications.
High: High-precision product. Extensive knowledge and documentation required.

2. Familiarity with product.
Low: Same or very similar product at the receiving site.
Medium: Existing and new products.
High: Products are new to site; significant learning required.

3. Familiarity with process.
Low: Similar low-precision processes in use.
Medium: Existing and new processes.
High: Processes are new, and high-precision or automated.

4. Receiving site condition and readiness.
Low: Already operating with adequate staffing and demonstrated capability.
Medium: Already operating, but not at required capability. Some facility improvements and organizational upgrades required.
High: Significant site and facilities upgrades or expansion required. Significantly higher levels of operating performance required.

5. Sending site condition and readiness.
Low: Sending site support ensured.
Medium: Site being closed. Retention of key people and effective sending site support are questionable.
High: Transfer of documentation essential. Significant proactive effort and investment required. Effective sending site support not expected.

6. Schedule and timing.
Low: Reasonable timeline for completion.
Medium: Compressed schedule driven by external events.
High: Very tight schedule and/or very broad scope of work to be completed; flawless execution required to succeed.

7. Project resources.
Low: Resources readily available. No special skills or experience required.
Medium: Resources needed to fill open positions; higher level skills and experience required.
High: Additional staff must be added to provide experience and process discipline necessary to succeed.

8. Management alignment and focus.
Low: Management at all levels understands the objectives and will make necessary decisions in a timely manner.
Medium: Management only marginally focused on the project; does not understand the complexity of the effort.
High: Management is preoccupied with other matters; has not taken the time to understand what is required to make the relocation successful.

9. Level of market- and customer-related risk.
Low: Little potential for late shipments or loss of customers.
Medium: Moderate order loss possible if production disruptions occur. Mitigating actions possible, but must be executed effectively.
High: High potential for order and customer loss if problems occur. Mitigating actions limited. Major short- and long-term financial impact likely.

10. Level of internal, cost-related risk.
Low: Little potential for cost overruns.
Medium: Delay could cause project overruns and/or poor financial results.
High: Significant project cost overruns possible; making schedule and achieving operating results critical to avoiding losses.

A complex move has significant risks, and some won't be known until disaster strikes. The key to success is assessing known risks and planning appropriate countermeasures.

What's your opinion? Whether you agree or disagree, I welcome your comments. You can contact me via the Bourton Group's Web site. Just point your browser to and click on "Contact Us."