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Archive for 2012

Moving offices

Friday, July 6, 2012 @ 06:07 AM

Companies move offices all the time. With proper planning this should be a minimally disruptive event for both employees and customers.  If a proper plan is executed the biggest problem that an employee should have is finding their favorite staple remover.  On the other hand we hear too many stories about loss of phone or internet service for days after the move, missing backup data, or in one case an entire server that never got to the new location.  Over the last 15 years we have moved dozens of offices and never had a major glitch.  So we thought that it may be helpful to document and share our process.  While this document focuses on the IT components most of the concepts can be applied to other departments as well.

There are a number of elements that make a move potentially complicated;

  • Many moving parts – The obvious challenge in a move is that there are many components to consider.  If you have ever moved your house you know what it takes to coordinate the movers, the family, the packers, etc.  But unlike a house you can’t just bring the packed boxes into the new basement and unpack it over time (as my wife and I did on our last move).  When your employees come in on the day after the move, or your clients call in or go to the website for support, it has to be as if nothing happened.
  • The smallest component can be important – I had a friend that was in the business of moving very expensive cars across the country.  He told me about one move where the car got there but the keys did not.  That car was going nowhere fast and the client was not very happy.
  • Timing is everything – Extended downtime caused by a move has a very real cost that can be measure not only in lost productivity but actual lost sales.  If your doors or website does not open on time Monday morning you can’t sell goods, see patience, provide customer service, etc.  There is no substitute for experience, proper planning and execution.
  • What you don’t know will hurt you – We had one client with a new office manager.  She sent us a phone bill for an account that was closed the month before and moved without her or us knowing.  The bill was important to confirm correct phone numbers for porting.  If we waited until the move to call the phone company and confirm the information the phone service would have been delayed.
  • Keep it simple – Some clients decide to combine a move with other projects, things like adding servers, moving internet or phone providers, adding services, etc.  While it can be strategically advantageous to synchronize another project with a move it does add an element of risk to the execution.  For example a medical office was moving and decided to also change their internet and phone provider as well as add hosted VOIP.  The timing and management of the installation of the new lines, move / transfer of the old ones, porting of the phones, configuration of the hosed VOIP solution and special consideration of the fax (HIPAA compliance risk) all took on more importance.  So keep it simple when possible and rely on experience and planning when strategically advantageous.
  • What can go wrong, will go wrong – The German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke said that “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”.  The same can be said for a move.  There have been many times that we have taken over a small account with one or two servers that have not been moved or even touched for some time.  You can tell because they have that nice ‘protective’ layer of dust on it and no fingerprints.  I think there must be some special Duct tape like quality to dust that just keeps everything stuck together and working.  But disturbing this magic dust angers the dust fairy and to show her displeasure she crashes the computer.  So take precautionary measures, make sure you have a good backup, do a test restart and have a documented plan B.

This is a first in a serious of articles that will focus on best practices in moving an office focusing on the technology components of a company.  In the articles to follow we will explore each of the above components in more detail and provide case studies as well as working templates that you can use to manage this process.

Robert Krupski, CEO
IT Help Central – www.ithelpcentral.com
rkrupski@ithelpcentral.com
 

If you would like to be put on our mailing list to receive the follow up articles or to request any of the templates mentioned please fill out your information on the contact us form.

Should a Small Business Move to the Cloud?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 @ 09:05 PM

Recently I was having a conversation with a CFO on a topic that seems to be on the minds of many of our SMB clients. The CFO had taken a trip and read an article on a plane about how companies had moved their entire organizations into the cloud and saved millions of dollars in the process. I think many of my clients either fly the same airline or read the same magazines because the questions were very similar as was the size of the savings.

So being a good technologist and wanting to show my grasp of the subject matter I dived right into a detailed description of the classic process to evaluate cloud computing. I told him about concepts like rapid elasticity, measured service, on-demand self-service, ubiquitous network access and resource pooling. If that was not enough I then started to follow-up with considerations around security, privacy, interoperability and portability. The only thing that saved him from a full on Power Point presentation was that I did not have my iPad with me. Somewhere between SLO, SLA and NIST I noticed that he was giving me a very familiar look. It was the same look and smile that my wife and I give our 4 year old twins when they talk gibberish to us with all the authority in the world. It’s a look of “I have no idea what you are talking about but I am going to let you finish and then give you a big hug because I still love you…”.

It was then that I stopped, took a breath and asked him what exactly did he mean? His questions were simple. “We use MS Office, QuickBooks and Exchange. Can I move all of that to the cloud for my 30 employees?” You don’t see many articles about the 30 employee company and how moving to the cloud affects them. It just does not sound as cool as moving hundreds or thousands of users and saving millions of dollars. But there are many more of those companies then of the larger ones and these SMB companies make up the majority of our customer base.

The answer to the CFO’s question was “yes”. You can move all of that to the cloud but should you? Having the ability to get there does not mean that you will like the destination. It is clear that we are all moving to the cloud at different speeds. Some analysts have 50% of small businesses in the cloud by 2015, others have different numbers, but the direction is clear. The real question is how to get there in one piece. A startup marketing company that is Mac centric will take a very different path into the cloud then an established law or medical practice that has standardized on the Microsoft platform.

Our recommendation to clients is to treat this as any other newIT initiative.

1. Know and document your current assets and needs
2. Research and document the current options in the market
3. Perform your ROI analysis
4. Speak with companies that have gone through the transition
5. Document a strategic migration plan
6. Test your key business applications
7. Execute the plan and do so in small bites

In the articles to follow we will explore each of the above components in more detail and provide case studies as well as working templates that you can use to manage this process.

Robert Krupski, CEO
IT Help Central – www.ithelpcentral.com
 

If you would like to be put on our mailing list to receive the follow up articles or to request any of the templates mentioned please fill out your information on the contact us form.