Initial Outfitting & Transition Services: What is IO&T, Anyway?

Analiese Kennedy, PMP, CHSP
After years of experience as a senior project manager at Faithful+Gould, I break down our Initial Outfitting and Transition Service, particularly in regards to U.S. Government Projects.

Our initial outfitting and transition (IO&T) service is all about planning for future operations of an expanding or relocating organization. This is done through the development of concepts for operations (CONOPS), new equipment planning, relocation of reusable equipment and personnel, faces to spaces, new equipment training and workspace orientations and finally, executing the plans. Typically, a team of IO&T subject matter experts (SMEs) will help the customer develop plans for new equipment, utilization of reusable equipment, furnishings, operations planning, layout and placement of equipment and supplies for operations and staff seating assignments (faces to spaces). The team will then provide services for the movement of everything (staff, equipment, staff office belongings, accessories, medical records,files and supplies etc.) from current locations to the end state locations.

Every new project brings with it a new complexity for planning and executing. IO&T planners call this type of dynamic and ever-changing project environment: "keeping it fun"! In my career, I’ve found that IO&T services are crucial at each stage of any given project. A true IO&T service offering will be tailored to what is required for each phase.

Project Design Phase

In order to maintain daily operations and be able to provide resources for critical IO&T tasks, it is imperative that functional protocols are established by the project leadership and defined as transition support requirements. It is recommended that stakeholder management is determined very early on and there needs to be daily operation teams and separate transition “tiger” teams, or working groups, that are solely dedicated to the transition mission. Daily operation teams ensure that the day-to-day planning and execution of transition tasks occurs to make the new facility functional according to the end-state user requirements. The transition teams identify and work through issues that could directly impact the users if not addressed prior to transition execution. This type of direct user coordination and project communication is critical to project success.

Every new project brings with it a new complexity for planning and executing.

Once the initial project assessment is completed, key stakeholder players are identified and provided with a copy of the transition project: structure, plan, budget, and guiding documents, as well as any additional duty orders if necessary. Key stakeholders will be assigned to the appropriate key activity team and transition working group for further project involvement and accountability.

In most government projects, it is recommended that working groups also focus on planning efforts typically not covered under IO&T contracts, like environmental abatement, leased property/equipment, operations and maintenance contracts, HAZMAT/chemicals, biological materials, resource management (purchase-cards), supplies (medical/scientific/office supplies), secure operations and security/biosecurity management. The working groups should identify and validate all transition requirements in order to thoroughly ensure consideration of all potentially impacted areas of concern and successfully complete the mission. Through development, use and management of a project integrated master scheduled (IMS), Faithful+Gould IO&T SMEs ensure that all transition requirements are identified, synced and tracked to completion.

Project Planning Phase

Operations Planning

One of the more complex requirements for government IO&T projects is operational planning. Working groups should plan for how to effectively utilize automation tools during transition such as the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support System (DMLSS), to provide a more efficient, innovative and responsive service to their customers. DMLSS is a unique property accountability system used by the government. Other considerations should be the standardization of supplies, equipment and facility operations and maintenance (O&M) programs. Optimization can be established with the primary goal of having a lean and standardized program that focuses on industry recognized methodology. This industry recognized methodology includes the analysis of current operational inefficiencies with considerations of the new facility pathway and adjacency design. By utilizing industry recognized techniques, our IO&T teams can standardize patient care and delivery of science within military medicine and research, as well as the “best of the best” in the civilian medical/research logistics arena.

Optimization can be established with the primary goal of having a lean and standardized program that focuses on industry recognized methodology.

Planning for transitioning business, scientific and patient care operations is a primary effort for these working groups. Assisting the organization in preparing CONOPS is no easy task. Most organizations “know how they work”, but don’t have a written plan for each division, department or service offered. This requires the development of a strategic organizational CONOPS, so that all of the subordinate leaders will be able to plan their functional areas based on the future vision of the leadership team. The Faithful+Gould IO&T transition planning SMEs help to facilitate this effort using standardized templates and tools to get the teams focused on writing down the details of their operations. Most critical is helping the user groups to visualize how they will do their day-to-day business in their new work environments, including how it functions within the overall mission of the organization. We accomplish this using floor plans, equipment plans, workspace walk-throughs (when available) and the development of workflows that detail the new pathways for completing each step.

Once the strategic and tactical CONOPS documents are prepared, then the users will have to work on updating or writing new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for any day-to-day workflows that may change or that were identified as “new” during the CONOPS development. The working groups will also need to update or write any new facility-wide plans, such as Safety and Occupational Health plans and/or Emergency Response plans, which will typically be adjusted due to a new building or systems. Once developed, these plans must be tested to ensure that the steps outlined will work in the new spaces and that external resources (fire department, EMS, etc.) know that the facility has changed. Testing CONOPS and workflows is executed through an exercise(s) named “Day in the Life” (DiTL).

Training and orientation is a key activity within operational planning. IO&T typically plans and coordinates new equipment training and workspace orientations, as well as the facilitation of facility orientation or “newcomers” training. Although we assist with planning, coordinating and tracking these efforts, it is imperative that the organization assign internal resources to develop the materials and provide briefs.

Occupancy Planning

Occupancy planning ensures that the new facility will meet the requirements of the users to perform their mission. It also ensures that strict regulatory and certification standards are met so that medical and research operations can be conducted. The Faithful+Gould IO&T team focuses on equipment validation and verification, which includes the identification of qualified reusable equipment, as well as complex system relocation. This equipment must meet strict life expectancy, warranty timelines and maintenance requirement histories, all of which is managed through DMLSS. Complex systems include equipment requiring technology assessment analysis and typically includes multiple peripheral items, requires connection to government servers, and/or includes complex original equipment manufacturer (OEM) de-installation, relocation and re-installation/certification requirements.

Occupancy planning ensures that the new facility will meet the requirements of the users to perform their mission.

Typically, very little office furniture is reused, as there is quite a large requirement for outfitting patient care, laboratory, administrative and common areas with new furniture. This requirement is identified during the design phase based on planned occupancy and operations projections. It’s typically a “best guess” by planners, five years or more before the organization moves in to the finished facility. So, we must be able to help the customer determine projected gaps through faces to spaces and equipment from/to planning exercises. In addition, the Faithful+Gould IO&T team assists with developing and installing artwork packages (from wall art to specialty items such as sculptures) based on the theme of the physical location or organizational purpose.

Facility Vacancy Planning

Historically, when a transition project team is planning a relocation and closure, there are occupancy planning and post-occupancy activities. Operations and occupancy working groups deal with planning how the new space will operate once occupied, whereas, post-occupancy focuses on close-out activities of the old facility. Typically, you can plan to close-out the vacated facility after the relocation to the new facility has occurred.

A critical part of vacancy planning is for the logistics and facilities management working groups to identify equipment lease agreements, direct supply deliveries, and warranty agreements for equipment service. Once identified, termination or move dates should be established with the providing companies so that all agreements can be re-established at the new facilities.
Additionally, if there is equipment to be turned in for disposition because it does not qualify for reuse, it will be important for the IO&T contract to project approximately how much equipment, furniture, and other materials must be relocated to off-site government agencies in accordance with government regulations.

Project Execution

During project execution, occupancy readiness checks of the new facility or renovated spaces should be completed by move coordinators (customer) with the use of checklists developed during the planning phases. Prior to relocation, move coordinators will also perform a host of additional checklist tasks. Some of these tasks can include: shredding non-mission essential records/data; performing a staff key inventory; turning in broken/excess equipment; initiating contract terminations/transfers for any department leased equipment; records digitization; completing hazardous waste turn-in, etc.

DiTL exercises give the organization time to test its plans and make adjustments to CONOPS prior to moving in. This reduces the risk of safety issues or large scale operational issues. This exercise is completed and evaluated prior to operational relocation, so that the organization can provide training to the staff with verified plans. It is important that the DiTL exercise is closely synced with the execution of workspace orientations and transition training.

It is important that the DiTL exercise is closely synced with the execution of workspace orientations and transition training.

New equipment installation, training, “newcomers” training and workspace orientation are also completed during the execution phase. Timing these aspects for transition depends on the organization’s regulatory and internal requirements. Along with these time-intensive activities, departmental equipment and personnel moves are also completed.

Patients, Biological Materials and Other High-Risk Moves

These types of moves are a critical activity that, although not typically executed through IO&T contracts, is planned, coordinated and tediously tracked by our team of SMEs. Logistics support for these efforts could include managing the support equipment during the moves so that accountability can be maintained. Dedicated facility staff should be assigned during these sensitive move days to ensure dedicated elevators are running and personnel are available to assist in the case of a malfunction. Other areas to coordinate with are: security, safety, biological surety and any external regulatory agencies. All this additional effort will pay off, with moves being executed efficiently with no losses or recordable events.

Post Occupancy/Project Close Out Phase

Close out activities include the disposition of excess equipment, property book transfer (accountability) activities, managing the transfer of historical and sentimental items, facility clearance and cleaning, logistical process documentation and other regulatory activities that must be performed prior to the final facility lockdown and property conveyance.

Lastly, we must include the development of lessons learned. Lessons learned are documented along the way, then refined by taking the time to meet with leaders after the project to discuss gaps in planning as well as what went exceptionally well. In addition, lessons learned have tremendous value in the improvement of process for the Faithful+Gould IO&T team. The execution and completion of each project is an opportunity to make the next project even better if we document lessons learned and implement into our business process.

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