Moving offices

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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 –

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