Moving can be one of the most stressful undertakings you ever experience. Moving a business creates its own set of challenges, not the least of which is technology. Phone systems, computers, and data access are fundamental to operating a business. Overlooking these details can create havoc, and cost money. Taking a structured, logical approach early on will help eliminate any potential pitfalls, while adding value to your technology through opportunities to enhance or strengthen systems.
Before the move
Bringing your technology team in early on is crucial to a successful move. To support business technology, the infrastructure in your new location needs to be sound.
- Does the new location have proper network cabling, is it correctly labeled and does it meet standards?
- Are there sufficient power outlets and network jacks for each desk location?
- Is there a secure room or closet for network equipment, offering adequate size and ventilation?
- Does any older equipment need to be replaced?
- Has your telecommunications and internet service providers been contacted to inform them of the move?
- Are IT resources available to support the move and scheduled to assist?
The first area I explore with regard to business technology is network data cabling and power. Are all locations where desks will be placed properly cabled for network and power? How about office printer or copier locations? Is the data cabling properly labeled, and terminated in a central IT closet or room? Since contracting improvements to cabling can take several weeks, or even months, having this information early on is important.
Telecommunications are also critical to a business, and involving your provider at least 2 months prior to a move is recommended. Can you take your phone numbers with you? Moving outside your local telephone exchange may mean changing your phone numbers. For example, Wiscasset phone numbers starting with 882 may not be able to move to a Brunswick exchange, which start with 725. You may need to change numbers or even service providers. If your existing phone system won’t meet your needs due to growth or lack of features, considering a new system makes sense. Hosted phone systems are an excellent way to accommodate future growth without a big upfront investment, since they are priced by how many extensions you are actively using. Lastly, if you have fax lines, don’t forget to include those in the business technology planning process.
Checking with your internet service provider to see if they serve your new location is another area to research. If they don’t, are there other comparable providers that can provide adequate service to meet your needs? What is the lead time between order and installation?
During the move
Often, hiring your IT professional to assist with moving sensitive computer and network equipment is in your best interest. Having a single point of contact to manage the technology move will help reduce finger pointing, and allow you to focus on other details surrounding your move.
- Do you have backups of all your data prior to moving any equipment?
- Is there a test plan for ensuring all systems are functioning after the move?
- Have you call forwarded your lines so they can be answered?
- Is all office furniture installed prior to the business technology relocation?
Sometimes, equipment can get damaged during a move. Having a good backup is critical to ensuring your data is safe. If you don’t already have an offsite backup, transport your data backups separate from your equipment. Having both on the same truck creates a single point of failure if an accident or theft occurred.
While you relocate, will you need to field calls from customers? Sometimes, this is as simple as forwarding your main line to a cell phone or answering service, so customers can still reach you in an emergency. Other times, forwarding to a recording that explains your move is taking place is sufficient.
Office furniture is important to facilitate your computer moves. I’ve been involved with more than one office move where the furniture arrived after the computers. Having a desk ready for the computer to be installed is important. When installing the equipment, it’s a great opportunity to spend time ensuring that the installation is clean and well organized. Over time, network closets tend to get cluttered and cabling can end up looking messy. Taking advantage of the downtime during a move offers your IT professional time to properly route network cabling, power cords, and to mount equipment. This not only looks better, it’s much easier to service the equipment later on. Sloppy network cabling and equipment not being properly secured can cause problems later on.
After the move
Once the move is complete, be sure to test all your critical applications and telecommunications. With so many changes taking place, sometimes the simplest things get overlooked.
- Are all phone and fax lines functional, including incoming and outgoing calls, voicemail, fax and auto attendants?
- Is internet service working properly, including email and remote access?
- Are all business applications functional, including printing?
- Is IT scheduled to assist on your first day?
- Has service been cancelled at your old location?
- Are all websites, business cards, and marketing materials updated with new contact information?
Test your phone system, fax, email and any other mission critical systems thoroughly, and schedule time for IT assistance on the day your new location opens. Don’t forget to cancel any telecom or internet services at your old location. Finally, be sure to update your marketing materials with any new phone or address information.
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