Moving offices usually stands out as a sign of success for a business. As young companies mature and expand, they outgrow their humble beginnings and require more space. Meanwhile, more established organizations might start opening satellite offices in new markets.
At the same time, an office move is also one of the complicated and stressful business events you will ever experience. Any useful office move checklist will include dozens, if not hundreds of tasks affecting every one of your employees.
However, there remains no more crucial task than a seamless IT transition from the old office to the new. It’s an inconvenience if you don’t get all the office furniture set up in time. But failing to get your internet service set up in time becomes a potential work-stopper. Few businesses can function properly without access to email and the internet.
To help you prepare for success when moving offices, we talked to Tim Naughton of Capital Network Solutions. As Senior Project Manager for the Sacramento-based managed service provider, Naughton knows the office move process front and back. He offered his thoughts on the five technology-related tasks that every business should prioritize when moving offices.
Come Up with a Game Plan
With so many moving pieces, it’s essential to start the process early. Naughton says that the minimum time required for the tech transition process is four to six weeks. “It’s the ISP that’s the long pole in the tent,” he says. “That’s probably the most critical driver.”
Of course, every site brings unique challenges. A larger building that requires additional cabling or a more remote office location will need a longer lead time. “We’ve done sites in remote parts of Idaho, Colorado and Utah,” Naughton says. “These sites are not standard, and it’s often difficult to get a lot of competitive bids from the various support services needed to get the office operational.”
Start early and know your stakeholders when moving offices. Devise and coordinate a production schedule and put together an itinerary that includes all the primary points of contact. Create a step-by-step game plan that communicates what needs to get done, who’s going to do it, and when it will get finished.
Assess and Communicate
An upfront assessment will determine what your business will need onsite. Meanwhile, the layout of the building will dictate choices in equipment and how to move forward. “Once we have the location that we’re going to, that generally will start the wheels turning for the assessment process, and from there, we can plan the light-up.
*The assessment covers all aspects of the networking infrastructure. Engineering layout drawings that show all data and electrical connections get created. CNS coordinates with facilities managers and stakeholders to devise a furniture layout. That layout feeds sub-vendor processes to add cabling, wireless access points, and other necessary improvements.
As a moving date approaches, the CNS team stays in close contact with the incoming manager. A seating chart gets communicated, and tasks are assigned to make the moving day go smoothly. Typically, we dispatch a technician to provide onsite assistance. Meanwhile, CNS coordinates with parent offices and network engineering staff.
Naughton and his team conduct weekly meetings with the building designer and other key stakeholders. “You want to keep them in the know,” he says.
Get Your ISP Set Up First
This point cannot get stressed strongly enough. Without any internet and email access, your business can’t do business.
“It’s the one thing that prevents a lot of offices from starting up, even if everything else is in place,” Naughton says. “It all depends on when the ISP is going to light up.”
Start looking for an ISP vendor at least four to six weeks in advance of the move. Ensure the property manager did not place any restrictions on providers. Verify if they use riser management and make sure you know the main points-of-entry and the location of demarcation closets. Once installed, make sure that your printers and other equipment use the correct IP information.
Invest in New Equipment
Don’t make the mistake of stocking a shiny, new office with the same cruddy, outdated equipment.
“Ideally, we will start up a new office using new equipment, which makes it easier to schedule,” Naughton says. “It’s much easier to light up a new circuit, and we don’t want any downtime.”
Beyond making the office-move process more difficult, your old computers and servers could present significant security risks. With Microsoft ending support for Windows 7 in Jan. 2020, any computers still running that operating system will be defenseless against cyberattacks.
Work with an Expert
The job of changing offices without disrupting business is too important to leave to novices. Even if you employ an in-house IT worker, they will likely get overwhelmed by the process.
“We not only do the ISP search, but we also reach out to the landlord and find out things like building restrictions, the building manager and engineer, elevator sizes,” Naughton says. “There are a lot of details, but the client is our focus, and we do whatever is needed to reduce their stress. We want to make the process flow as smoothly as possible.”