Relocating IT systems quickly and smoothly is a crucial part of any move. Without functioning workstations and servers, or access to email and company data, work grinds to a halt. Pulling the plug on telephone lines and internet connections leaves your business in the dark. Re-connection, reconfiguration and any necessary troubleshooting all takes valuable time and causes costly downtime for your business.
But planning and careful management can greatly reduce the negative impacts of relocating on your IT system and daily operations. In fact, moving office can positively impact your business as it is the perfect time to implement long awaited changes or updates to your IT system and physical infrastructure.
Advance planning and preparation is key to a successful move. The planning process should start at least 3 months before your move date. It is a good idea to appoint one person specifically to plan and coordinate the relocation of your IT systems. They will be the point of contact internally and for the removal firm and any third party contractors and suppliers.
Apply for a new internet connection, or discuss transferring your current connection with your existing supplier at least 90 days before you plan to move. New connectivity solutions may take several months to setup depending on the type of product, demand for the service, your location and the type of building you are moving to. Fibre connections may require civil works in some areas, which can extend the period required for installation considerably.
In what is a highly competitive market it is worth shopping around, getting quotes from a number of connectivity suppliers. When selecting the solution make sure it is scalable and flexible enough to accommodate any potential growth and changes in your company in the near future. Look at supplier contracts carefully, paying particular attention to contract lock-ins, minimum service guarantees and response times when there is a problem.
Visit the new site as early as possible with IT experts to check the building layout and existing IT infrastructure. For works such as structured cable installation, solicit bids from at least 5 contractors. Check the specifications of competing bids carefully and avoid going for an option that is significantly cheaper than the rest as it will typically include cheap, unreliable products with no warranty. Make sure that all lines have a warranty period of at least 50 years.
Review all your network hardware before the move. Ideally you should install all new network equipment, such as firewall switches and server cabling, at least 14 days before the move to allow time for troubleshooting. To minimise downtime the network equipment should be left in place and running at your old premises during the setup and move. Setting up, configuring and testing network equipment usually takes about 2-3 days.
Scheduling your move
No matter how well planned and executed your move is, you should always expect some down time. With this in mind, scheduling your move for a weekend or outside normal business hours can reduce disruption to business activities. Of course key personnel will need to be available to oversee the move process. If you are moving out-of-hours it is also important to have a couple of users on hand to come in to test that their new setup is working and to contribute to troubleshooting.
Move day procedure
At least a week before the move you should make detailed plans for the day itself. Everyone involved should know exactly who is doing what, when. Users can unhook their own devices as part of the pack-up process, although you will need to have suitable boxes or containers available. It is a good idea to supply one box per desk and to label them clearly. At the new premises employees can also setup their own equipment, though an engineer should be on hand to provide guidance and troubleshoot any problems.
It can be useful to create a move guide to distribute to all employees. This should include instructions for the day along with information on accessing email and data while the relocation is in process. It can also include information on configuring software or troubleshooting common problems during setup. A move guide can significantly reduce problems and can also be used to manage user expectations by outlining what they should expect during the move process. For example, it can inform them that they will be without email or access to certain company data during a certain period so they can warn clients or make necessary preparations to minimise disruption to their work.
By John Dryden, Chief Technology Officer at ITLab