You’ve made the decision to move office, but who needs to be involved and why? Many businesses forget to consider that they may need to involve other parties so the fact that you realise you need to is a great start. We’ve worked with a number of different sized businesses over the years and supported a range of office moves; from the two pc’s shifting from one side of the room to another, to 50+ user businesses undertaking complete relocation.
Sadly, there’s no Sorcerer’s Apprentice to wave a wand to make the computers and desks float from A to B. In this article, we look at the importance of involving other parties, particularly your IT Support provider from the start, as well as the other elements to consider to ensure your move is a success.
Getting the IT guys involved
If you don’t include your IT Support provider at the initial ideas stage, there is no doubt that the whole process will be that little bit harder. Getting them involved before you’ve even looked at potential premises will really benefit the process as they will be able to guide you on what is possible in terms of ‘fit out’ and help you to understand the requirements from an IT perspective from the start.
Other important elements to discuss;
• Is it a complete office move? If not, how many users are likely to be moving?
• Potential dates
• Your ideal timeline. Are you planning to pack up Friday after 5pm with the intention on being up and running and good to go on Monday at 9am?
Once you’ve decided on your new premises, make sure you confirm how long the fit out is going to take Ensure your project manager keeps your IT support up to date with schedules of any trades people that they may need to work with or around.
Confirming exact moving dates seems obvious but can sometimes get forgotten. Your IT provider will need to know in advance to ensure they schedule the right number of engineers for the project. If you are working over a weekend, then the more notice the better. This might fall outside of normal working hours, so requires pre-planning.
You may take the view, ‘well that’s not our problem’. It’s worth remembering that weekend or overnight cover is probably very rarely required as standard. Most Managed Service Providers are happy to support with projects like this but they do need some prior notice to make the necessary arrangements to get their teams booked in for additional shifts. Equally, it’s important to remember that you’re not their only client so they will need to ensure the dates don’t clash with any other projects.
Main elements of IT to consider
There are two aspects to an office move. The physical box shifting side and the intangible services side. Both need careful planning and consideration. With regards to the physical move, your IT support will need to plan and move;
This is the technical lifeblood of your business. The server(s), cabinets, switches, cabling, firewalls, access points etc. Your IT provider will handle this but it’s good to have a basic understanding of the breadth of devices that need consideration. Do you own the server cabinet or will your equipment need to be extracted from the static one for the building? Could your access points be hidden in roof space?
How many desktops will be moving and what is your standard set up? Number of screens to a pc? Desk layouts? Think about what you want the set up to be in the new office, for example like for like or is it an opportunity to change how your teams work?
Printers and peripherals
Consider if you are taking all the existing peripherals such as printers, photocopiers, scanners etc. Think about size implications and where you would ideally like them to be in your new premises.
New v’s Old
Are you re-buying equipment or starting a fresh with new? This is important as each approach will have different implications in terms of logistics and timescale. If you are hoping to reuse your existing equipment this will mean that you will experience a complete shut down during the move period.
Old equipment will need to be dismantled and then set up again in your new location. This is generally possible, however it can sometimes cause issues if your current IT support didn’t put in all of the equipment in the first place. Locating access points that have been hidden over time in roof spaces can be interesting!
On the other hand if you’re planning to replace your equipment, this can potentially be installed and set up prior to the move (if you’ve got the keys). This can aid a more smooth and staggered approach, but there could be a sizable cost impact to consider.
Do you really need to hire a removal company?
Start with the basics to answer this.
• Where would you like to move to?
• Is it far?
• How much stuff have you got to move?
• What level is your current and potential new office on? Do you need to think about staircases or lifts?
• How many large items do you have? Printers, photocopiers, servers?
It’s important to be realistic about your requirements to establish whether you need to employ an office moving company. Just like house removal companies, commercial removals are professional services who specialise in dismantling, reassembling furniture, lifting heavy items and safely transporting office contents securely from one location to another. It’s worth getting some quotes and a better understanding of the service they offer. Find out what they will and won’t move? How they will charge you and who will be your main contact.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to this or you feel that you don’t have the furniture and equipment to warrant it, then it’s likely you are planning to hire a van and involve your team. A popular approach where everyone arrives in their scruffs and mucks in for pizza, overtime or simply the love of the job!
Just remember to consider health and safety. Although your team may enjoy the camaraderie of ‘moving day’, they’ll be less than impressed if an A3 printer gets dropped on their toes.
Moving very large items like printers normally needs pre-planning and generally the assistance of a moving company. They are incredibly heavy and a large office photocopier could be in the excess of 85kg!
They are usually delivered on wheeled pallets so moving will require correct trolleys, strapping and essentially a team who know how to stabalise and ensure the printer or photocopier still works at the other end!
As previously mentioned, remember that you have a duty of care as part of the HSE to make sure large items are moved correctly so that no one is injured in the process.
If you are employing a moving company, decide who is going to pack what. People can get very precious about these items and if they come in on the Monday morning to the new office and their new desk to find things missing or not where they expected it can cause unnecessary hassle for everyone. A possible approach for desks is;
Individuals – To pack up their own personal belongings. Photos, pen pots, lego figures etc in a box labelled clearly with their name and department.
IT Support – to disconnect PC’s and any IT desk based equipment and pack in a box clearly labelled with the person’s name and department.
Removal company – To dismantle and move desks, pedestals, chairs as appropriate.
We have known variations of the above example but whatever is decided, it’s best to communicate with your teams in advance so they know what they need to do.
Phone and Internet lines
These are the elements that you don’t see, but that you won’t be able to run your business without.
Are you currently using a VoIP system or do you have an old style phonelines?
VoIP telephony systems are easier to deal with as they are portable. If you have ISDN 2, ISDN 30 or PSTN lines then these are trickier to move and you will need to refer to the terms of your current contract.
If you have long standing phone lines like this then you need to consider that you may not be able to take your telephone number with you as telephone numbers may not be able to be moved out of the exchange location. Your provider will be able to clarify this for you, a migration to VoIP may be necessary to retain the number.
Do you have a fax service? Do you still use it? If you’re a Solicitors firm you’re more than likely still sending faxes regularly. As these can run on PTSN lines you could similarly experience the issues mentioned above. You could consider moving it to a fax to email service though, and your IT support should be able to assist with this.
What type of internet line do you have? Do you know the terms of your contract?
If you have an ADSL line then these are generally on a rolling monthly contract so should be fairly straight forward to move. You would simply end the line at one address and start a new one at the new address with a month crossover period to ensure continuity of service.
If you have a leased line then this will need more planning. These can be set up as 5 year contracts so you will need to look into how long you have left.
Understandably, most businesses won’t want to incur the cost of paying for a new line at the new premises while paying for the old line until the contract ends. If you still have a substantial amount of time left on the contract then you will need to enter negotiations with your provider, BT, Virgin etc to find out how you can potentially transfer the contract to a line at your new address.
This can be a lengthy process and can mainly be handled by your IT Support provider, but starting the process early will help reduce any impact on the business. If you’re looking to put in a new lease line, you should allow approximately 90-120 days lead time. We have known some take up to 10 months from start to finish, especially when landlords, solicitors and land owners need to be involved.
The decisions you make in terms of moving date, timings and whether you are using old or new equipment will all determine if there is going to be any downtime. If it looks likely, consider
• How long is it likely to be?
• How will it impact your customers? How will you deal with this?
• Will it affect all of your team? i.e will users be able to work remotely using alternative systems?
• Will it affect users at other sites, overseas etc.
Having a plan ready to deal with the above will help greatly.
How much is moving going to cost?
This can be a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question but you will need to consider the cost implications of your move as it can get expensive quite quickly.
If you’re hiring a removals company you will need to get quotes for the level of service you require.
You will also need to speak to your IT support about the costs to assist with the move. An office move is rarely included in a monthly support contract. It will normally be quoted as a separate project, so make sure you understand the costs from the start.
Don’t assume (Makes an Ass out of U and Me)
Assumptions generally cause the most issues when moving offices. Good communication is key to making sure everyone knows what is happening and when. A clear plan that everyone can follow will make the difference and iron out any issues before they develop into problems.
• Who will move what? Decide who has responsibility for which items.
• What needs to move? What is moving, what is staying?
• How will things be done? i.e heavy items?
• When will items be moved?
Moving premises can provide a fantastic opportunity for your business to expand and grow. It can be a daunting task so it is vital that that you involve your key business partners like your IT support provider as early as possible.
It’s important to decide early on whether you will involve a removal company as it will impact your project plans. To help the process, appoint a representative from each area of expertise
• Your business – this may be an operations director or office manager. Essentially it needs to be the person that understands how the business runs operationally and can liaise well with the relevant teams as and when required.
• Your IT support – Depending on their size, this may be the director or a senior engineer. You need the person who understands your IT systems inside out and who will be able to support and guide you through the process with sound technical advice.
• The moving company – If you decide to use one and depending on the size, this may be the owner or an account manager. Establishing a good working relationship with your contact and encouraging them to liaise with your IT support will also help ensure you’re all on the same page throughout the project.
We hope this helps. Have a great Moving Day!
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