Company growth means an office move
The growth of your business is unquestionably good news. The flipside is that you’ll need to increase your staff complement and this implies moving to new premises with more space. Nobody enjoys a move, and an office relocation can be an enormous undertaking. Failure to plan and execute the move thoroughly will result in significant delays which, by extension, detrimentally impacts your productivity and bottom line.
In this e-guide you will examine several processes that contribute to making your office move a success: before, during and after the big day. Specifically, you’ll explore ways to ensure that your IT infrastructure remains intact with minimal disruption to business and negligible downtime. Well-organised IT relocation is integral to any office move and should that vital element fail, your business will face a loss of earnings not to mention damage to your brand. Luckily, a move only happens once in a blue moon, so it is worth investing time to carefully consider all the options for moving your IT.
Moving office doesn’t need to be daunting. With thorough planning, collaboration and timing, you can ensure that your IT systems remain stable and secure during the transition. Moreover, you can guarantee that your clients and employees have access to your network and data during the move; moving office doesn’t mean that business should grind to a halt.
Examining potential risks related to the move is an excellent starting point when you are contemplating a business relocation. There are five fundamental risk areas associated with the office move: planning, security, communication, technology and quality.
1. Office move planning
Sound planning underpins all successful office moves. Having an inadequate plan means that employees will not understand their role in the transition, or what needs to be done and by when. Poor planning will result in the move taking longer than anticipated. Consequently, this implies downtime, loss of productivity, frustrated staff and vexed customers. Together with your executives and IT team, you should devise a comprehensive plan for the move that details a timeframe, delegates responsibilities and one that ensures that your businesses technology will remain unimpaired.
2. Office move security
The risk to data, systems and hardware increases significantly during an office move. Your business becomes susceptible to threats ranging from lost or compromised data and damage to equipment such as computers, printers and servers. If the move is not well planned and managed, you are leaving your physical and virtual IT systems vulnerable to breakage and open to attack from cybercriminals. Your IT infrastructure should be as secure when moving as on any other day to mitigate any risk of disaster or downtime.
3. Office move communication
Communication, both internally and with external stakeholders and partners, is paramount during an office move. Without clear and relevant communication, your company is at risk of ‘dropping the ball’ and an office move can fail.
Lack of communication means that tasks can be forgotten since one employee may presume that somebody else is responsible for an action. This means that deadlines will be missed, the moving process will become disorganised and your staff will suffer increased levels of stress during an already hectic disruption. Appropriate communication is vital in all realms of business; for an office move project, communication is king.
4. Office move technology
The last thing that you want is for your business to be offline. Staying online can prove a nightmare for most businesses during a move. However, for businesses with legacy on-site IT systems, the nightmare can be multiplied tenfold. These businesses will suffer downtime while their IT infrastructure is relocated and loss in productivity and revenue follows. Simply put, if your systems aren’t running, your staff are unable to work and your business is non-operational.
If your SMB uses a hybrid cloud solution, whereby core services are stored securely in the cloud whilst instant access to data is available locally, you are well positioned to remain online. When moving office, technology can either be your friend or enemy. By moving to the cloud prior to relocation, your business will have made a friend in technology.
5. Office move quality
Quality is a factor that is often overlooked when moving office. Before, during and after the move, there is always a lot going on. So much so that individuals negate quality and company processes simply to get something done. A simple and less damaging example would be purchasing inferior quality cables for the new office. Much worse is to forget to perform a complete backup of data and files prior to the big day. This will prove a costly mistake when you turn on your computer or servers to find that your valuable business data is missing or corrupted.
You should realise that quality cannot be sacrificed during the move due to lack of process or improper planning. For businesses that ignore quality, the move will take longer, with many potholes along the way, and at a much higher cost.
IT before, during and after the move
All business nowadays, whether it be Amazon or a two-person ecommerce operation, are reliant on a stable IT infrastructure to function. Your business is no exception. While ensuring that new premises provide sufficient space, ordering furniture, changing the address on any company-related stationery and obtaining removal quotes are all integral to an efficient moving process, managing your IT before, during and after the move is critical to safeguard your data and continue business as usual.
Before exploring the phases pertaining to IT when moving office, take a quick look at three factors that are often neglected when planning a move: ISP, cabling, and phone systems. Failing to pay attention to these issues will result in disruption to business operations and unexpected costs.
1. Internet Service Provider
In these days of abundant access to Wi-Fi, it is easy to take internet availability for granted. However, connecting to the internet in your new office isn’t as simple as making a few clicks and searching for Wi-Fi service. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) must be notified well in advance of the move. Ensure that the current ISP is available at the new location. If so, you will need to provide the ISP with at least 30 days notice so they can schedule internet access at your new office in a timely fashion. In the event that the ISP does not serve the area, factor in at least 90 days to evaluate new providers, select the best for your business, and schedule installation.
Whether you are moving to a new build, or a renovated space, the installation of appropriate cabling to meet all your IT requirements is essential. Planning for the cabling you need and where it must be installed should involve all relevant vendors: your new landlord, interior designers and fitters, the cabling vendor and your IT Managed Service Provider (MSP). Neglecting to install the appropriate cabling and outlets means that your employees will find themselves using extension cords to power technology. Worse still, the necessary outlets for your printers or servers may be non-existent. Early collaboration with all involved parties will ensure that you remain within the budget for your office move and that there is optimal usage of new space.
3. Telephonic communication systems
Moving your phone system or Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) isn’t a simple unplug and plug in procedure. For on-site telecommunications systems, your provider needs to disconnect and reconnect each phone. Moreover, your phones may be tied to your ISP and hence phones may not work at the new premises unless you have requested an ISP location change. With a VoIP service, as with your ISP, confirm that you’ll get service at the new location and provide enough time for your vendor to process the move.
IT before the move
Once you have completed a risk assessment and constructed a sound plan, you can begin to prepare for the move. If possible, you should delegate all technology related activities to the in-house IT team. Your company’s MSP should also be provided with a schedule for the move, details of the new premises including a floor plan and space allocation, and an up-to-date inventory of all hardware and peripherals. An experienced MSP will no doubt have an inventory but duplication in this instance guarantees that all your technology is accounted for.
Your IT team-leader should liaise directly with the outsourced MSP for the entire process, involving them in planning and pinpointing all IT requirements before the move. Working together, the MSP and your in-house IT staff will ensure that the new premises have the appropriate tech infrastructure to support business. Before the move, the MSP and in-house IT team should:
- • backup all data on a regular basis and specify when the final backup is to be made prior to the move; the MSP will no doubt enforce scheduled backups anyway
- • ensure that all data and backups are appropriately encrypted so they are protected in the event that devices go missing or unauthorised access is attempted
- • have in place an extended business continuity (BC) plan for the day should the need for disaster recovery implementation be necessary.
- • enforce security protocols such as applying firewalls, running antivirus and malware checks and installing patches and updates
- • test Internet connections, Wi-Fi routers cabling and power outlets at the new premises to facilitate rapid installation of hardware and devices on arrival
- • test Wi-Fi connectivity and stability at the new premises to ensure that Wi-Fi service is acceptable with the expanded floor space
- • decide how existing hardware should be packed and labelled; this means all equipment is easily identified at the other end
- • prioritise the order in which hardware is packed prior to the move; essential hardware should be the last to go
- • select the devices that will remain online; these will most likely be BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) for remote working and accessed on the day of the move so there is minimal disruption to business
- • ensure that the type and size of the broadband connection at the new premises matches IT infrastructure requirements
- • select appropriate and reliable cabling to optimise broadband speeds at the new location taking into account budget constraints
- • decide on the positions of all connection points needed to power hardware and serve telecommunication devices; this is best done with an accompanying graphic such as a floor- plan
- • decide how to dispose of any hardware not to be taken to the new location and hence remain WEEE compliant
- • check that there is sufficient space for internal servers to be accommodated and that adequate wiring and cooling is available.
IT during the move
So the dreaded day arrives. Your boxes are packed and the removal vans are raring to go. So what role does any in-house IT and MSP play on the day of the move? Again, working in tandem, your IT team and the outsourced MSP will:
- • check that latest backed up data is available and perform an additional data and systems backup in the event that things should go awry at the new office
- • ensure that all boxed hardware and peripherals are securely stored for transit; boxes should be stacked so that they are easily identifiable
- • arrange for the secure transportation of devices and external drives containing sensitive company data and files
- • provide support to employees using BYOD to keep the company online insofar as possible; the MSP will ensure network availability and cloud access using secured Wi-Fi
- • supervise the unpacking of hardware and assist with the installation of computers, printers and other machines
- • install all devices and hardware using the floor-plan as a guide; internet connectivity will be checked as well as the performance of all machines
- • ensure that access to the network and data centre is optimised and that all those with permissions have access
- • start all local servers, checking that they are appropriately connected and cooled, and test network capability and data migration
- • conduct a quick website audit to test page-loading and links and check incoming and outgoing emails
- • check that cabling and outlet requirements are met and that all devices are connected where and how they should be
- • test devices such as printers, video projectors and routers to ascertain that their performance is optimised
- • test and optimise broadband upload and download speeds and ensure that all business connectivity components such as data centre interconnects are in place
- • determine that phone systems and VoIP are functioning and make necessary tweaks to avoid any future communication glitches; testing includes call-forwarding and voicemail
- • ensure, if applicable, that customers in shared office spaces are secure and separated from other networks.
It is likely that your MSP will provide an IT consultant to be onsite at the new offices during the move. Hence, your staff have direct access to support so that your network can be appropriately set up and configured.
IT after the physical move
From an IT perspective, the time after the move is when the guidance and assistance of the in-house IT team and the local MSP truly come into play. After the physical move, your IT guys and the MSP engineers will:
- • be on site to assist with additional hardware configuration and software updates that may be needed to optimise your network
- • test access to data and ensure that all data and files are available and appropriately located
- • remotely monitor your network to ensure that routine activities such as email, storage and backup are working as they should
- • ensure that network and data storage replication processes are in place and fully functional
- • checking and testing BYOD for use on site and for remote work
- • be on site and have remote availability to support your staff with any IT issues that may have cropped up as a result of the move
- • provide ongoing post-move IT support so that business operations will proceed as normal without you fretting over technology issues that may arise in the future
Are you ready to move?
Moving office potentially has a transformative impact on your business, giving you room to grow and expand, space to create and greater opportunity to develop and fine-tune your brand. While thoughts of a move may be stressful, you can dilute the anxiety by thorough planning, anticipating all your IT needs with the support of your managed services partner, and scheduling events well in advance. Are you ready to move office in 2018? If so, use the ‘Office Move Checklist’ to get you started.
Office Move IT Checklist
This checklist will give you insight into the complexity of moving office, with specific reference to your IT infrastructure. The list, which is by no means definitive, should also assist you in planning, task delegation and to set a timeframe leading up to the day of the move.