As businesses grow and change, they are likely to experience frequent office moves. The success of all office moves is directly impacted by the effective management of the office information technology – an area where most small business owners and managers often don’t have a lot of confidence.
From our experience in managing the technology of hundreds of small businesses in a wide variety of industries, ACS has developed recommended practices that can help any small business to have a smooth and cost-effective office move. The recommendations themselves are simple; so simple that most businesses tend to neglect them.
A summary of these recommendations is provided here for your reference. We hope you find this information helpful and wish you the best of luck in your next move!
Office Move Summary
- A move is a great time to step back and evaluate
- Plan well in advance
- Get your telephone and data lines ordered early
- Hire outside help
- Assign one person to manage all technical aspects of the move
- Budget appropriately for your move
- Organize all of your licenses, warranty information, and vendor contact information before the move
- Run and test a backup before moving
- Let movers do the actual moving
- Do the move over a weekend if possible
Take a Step Back to Evaluate
A move tends to be a good time to clean house. Nobody wants to start off in their new office with all of their old junk, so people will tend to get rid of the old files, paperwork and other clutter that has gathered in their workspace over time.
This is also a good time to do the same at the business level. Many of our clients will use their move as an opportunity to step back and ask, “What do we have that isn’t worth moving or would we prefer to replace when we move to our new office?”
Things that we commonly see replaced during the move:
- Phone systems
- Network infrastructure hardware
- Servers and Server software
- Desktops, Laptops and related software
Perhaps it makes sense for you to review these and other items to determine if they are worth the expense of moving vs. purchasing new and getting a fresh start in your new home.
Plan in Advance
The time from the point that it is determined that you will need to move, to the day that you are actually working in your new office can be months or years. It’s important to engage the right resources at the right time to make sure that nothing in the planning process gets thrown off track.
The first step should be to contact the commercial real estate broker that you plan to work with. Your broker has the depth of knowledge about the real estate market that can only be had with total immersion in the field and should be your top ally in the move planning process.
Your broker will not only be able to help you find space, but they will also:
- Help you negotiate the best price and terms.
- Introduce you to key vendors you’ll need.
- Steer you clear of the many roadblocks to a successful move that they’ve experienced in their thousands of client moves.
Once you are within six months of the actual move date, it becomes very important to start planning your move from a technology perspective. There are several key milestones from a technology perspective that can bring your move to a screeching halt, which brings us to our next point…
Place your orders
Your biggest risk to having your move go successfully, from a technology perspective, is failing to have your phone and data lines installed on time. Nothing will bring months of move planning to a screeching halt faster than the idea of not being able to get phone calls or email from your customers!
Your telecom services should be ordered at least three months in advance of your move-in date. Whoever is managing the technical side of the move for you should be checking on the status of the orders at least every other week, to begin with, and daily in the final week.
We have seen many moves derailed by businesses that ignored this advice – get your telecom order in early!
Assemble a Team
Planning and managing a move can be a full-time job. It usually doesn’t make sense for the owner or other executives of a small company to spend their valuable time managing this process when they should remain focused on building their business. This is particularly true when it comes to planning and management of the technical side of a move. Unless you are already very knowledgeable in regards to technology, you will have a very steep learning curve to overcome to try to plan the technology aspects of your move. Our suggestion is that you don’t try.
Hire an outside expert and let them manage the technical aspects of the move for you.
Assign a Point Person
Technology talk can sound like a foreign language if you are not familiar with it. The last thing you want to happen during your move is for a technology problem to arise and for you to feel held hostage by multiple bickering vendors, none of which are making any sense to you or taking responsibility.
This can easily happen if you have multiple technology vendors working on various aspects of your move including:
- Telecom services vendor.
- Phone system equipment vendor.
- Network cabling vendor.
- Network hardware and software vendor.
- Key application vendor.
- Security or camera vendor.
Depending on your business, there may be others as well.
Our recommendation is that you choose one vendor – one that you feel comfortable speaking within your native language – that will take responsibility for managing all technical aspects of the move. This doesn’t mean that there won’t still be multiple vendors to work on the various technologies at your business. However, only one person should be responsible for making sure the final result is what you expect. We believe that the most appropriate person for this role is a Senior Network Engineer with broad skills and project management experience.
Plan your budget
Moving into a new office can be a lot of fun. This is your opportunity to design a space that looks and feel exactly how you’d like. Architects, new furniture and art for the walls – these are all very important and can be very expensive.
Setting aside money for the actual move doesn’t seem nearly as fun. However, it’s critical that you budget appropriately for all of the “blocking and tackling” necessary to get you from one office to the other – planners, project managers, and movers are all necessary to ensure a successful move.
Backup and Test
From an information technology perspective, this may be the most valuable piece of advice you can receive:
Run and test a backup of all of your critical data before you move!!!!
I’m sure you’ve been running backups for years on your tape backup system, network attached storage or cloud but you still need to run and test a brand new one. Backup solutions are only as strong as your internal process. If you do not perform a test restore or disaster recovery failover on a routine basis then you are not certain that your data is really backing up as you believe.
The worst time to have to track down any important information is right in the middle of a move when something has gone wrong and you really need it!
Before the move, create an Excel spreadsheet of your key contact and product information, including all license keys and passwords (SECURELY). Save it someplace secure electronically so it can be accessed in the event of an issue during the move. Also, create an online folder of all of your software applications to be used for reinstallation of programs if necessary.
Let the Pros handle the move
Your technology vendor may offer to move your equipment for you. Or you may decide to try to have your employees move their own computers.
Neither is a good idea!
Moving companies have experience moving breakable items, and insurance to protect you if something breaks (because they often still break things!). The cost of one broken computer or server could equal the entire cost of having a moving company handle things for you. Our suggestion is that you let them handle it. Have your technology vendor ensure a smooth shut down of all systems and organization of cables and power cords, then hand it over to the packers and movers.
Move over the Weekend
Doing the move over a weekend is a good idea because, assuming that you have a business that closes on the weekends, it should mean less potential disruption to your business. However, it will most likely cost more due to vendor overtime rates and should carefully be considered in your budget.
From an IT perspective — and I’m sure other vendors would agree with this as well — it gives a little bit of wiggle room to resolve the countless number of things that could potentially go wrong. Technology is complicated stuff; having room to troubleshoot the inevitable challenges makes life easier for everyone.
From an employer and employee perspective, it sure is nice to go away on Friday and start your work week on Monday in a new home that’s up and running and ready for work. Maybe that alone is worth the extra cost!
When in doubt feel free to contact the team at ACS Services. We have completed 100’s of successful office moves and new office openings for our customers. If you need a resource to ensure that you have taken the proper steps please contact Chris Mackin at email@example.com or a member of the ACS Team (508) 238-6334. We would be more than happy to assist in ensuring your office move is well planned and successful.
ACS is the leading provider of IT services to the small and medium-sized businesses in New England. For over 30 years ACS has had a unique approach to supporting our clients’ technology needs. We help our clients increase profitability and reduce operating expenses by delivering complete technical support for organizations on a fixed price. These services include proactive network, server, and computer management as well as cloud, strategic planning, and disaster recovery services.