Things to consider when planning an office move

SME’s by their very nature often need to move office, hopefully because of growth and the need for additional space. Like moving house this can be a stressful time particularly if you are the one tasked with project managing the process.
As with most things, good planning is the key ingredient to a successful outcome. From an IT perspective in particular, it is important that you think about the key elements you will need to have in place for a smooth and painless move. Without a plan you can expect to be in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

So how do you go about ensuring a smooth and painless move?

The following points address the main areas that you will need to think about when planning your move. Remember always to ask questions if you are not sure as finding out something is not what you thought on the day of your move is not a good thing. And never assume that someone is going to be doing something, always make sure you have confirmed that they are doing it and that it will be done at the right time.

Define responsibilities

Always make sure you have clearly established and agreed who is responsible for what part of the move project. If you have an outsourced IT Support Company they will often be responsible for moving your central infrastructure such as switches, servers and firewall. They will rarely need to or insist on moving your desktop PC’s as these can be moved effectively and safely by your office movers.

Connectivity

Connectivity is absolutely key to ensuring your office move is not a complete disaster. If you do not have the right connectivity in place by the day of your move your IT systems will not work. Without the internet things like email, offsite backup, remote support and web browsing will not work.

Before signing a lease at your intended new location, you should consider what internet services are available. You may assume that all services are available wherever an office is located but this is surprisingly not the case. Checking at an early stage could save you a lot of money.

When planning your move I would recommend you make contact with your IT Support Company to ensure that the appropriate connectivity is ordered. Timelines for internet connections vary massively depending on the service. A leased line can take 90 days to install (or longer) whereas a DSL line can sometimes be installed within 5 days, so this really should be your first priority once you have secured a lease at your new premises. I would also recommend that line be installed and tested at least a week prior to your move date. You should talk to your provider or IT Support Company and confirm lead times well in advance to ensure resource is available to you on the day of the move.

Cabling & Power

In order for your IT systems to work, there needs to be structured cabling and sufficient power. Structured cabling is essentially the wires that connect everything up to the servers and internet; they are where you would plug your PC and phone in to the floor or wall.

If you are moving to a completely refurbished office as part of the project you would have had new structured cables installed (normally CAT5e). These should be done by a reputable cabling company and should be tested and signed off before you move.
If you are moving into an office that already has structure cabling in place you should get these tested by a cabling company well before your move date so that any issues can be identified and resolved. Even if the company you are taking over from has been using them and says they all work it is still a good idea to have them tested and signed off to avoid potential issues.

You should also ensure there are sufficient power points to plug in PC’s and printers and any other electrical stuff. It may sound obvious but it is easily forgotten and then becomes a problem. Most cabling companies will also be able to install power points for you. Your outsourced IT Support Company can normally provide you with a contact for a good cabling company.

Phones

While not part of your core IT provision your phone system and phone lines will often have a similar timeline to connectivity in terms of installing new services. You should ensure you speak to BT and your phone support company well in advance about your proposed move.

Server room

When planning your new office you should take into account that you will need a space to locate your servers, switches and firewall. This will normally be where your cabling terminates (patch panel –ask your IT Support Company!) and where the internet connection terminates. Depending on the type and number of servers you have you will not necessarily need a dedicated server room but you do need to think about where to locate the servers and the environmental factors such as cooling and noise. Again, speak to your outsourced IT Support Company and they will be able to advise you.

Managed Offices

Managed offices will generally provide you with all the facilities you need and that are listed above. The key with thinking about moving to a managed office is to establish what your requirements are from them and to ensure they can deliver them and at a price that is commercially viable for your business. Managed offices make their profit through charging a premium for things like connectivity so check before you sign what it is going to cost you.
The best advice is to get the technical contact at the managed office and have them talk to your IT Support Company and they will then be able to confirm that what you need from an IT perspective is possible and commercially viable.

And lastly, good communication

So in summary the key things are planning ahead, building in some contingency with your timelines, ensuring everyone has defined responsibilities and asking if you don’t know. It is very rare that an office move without at least a month’s planning will go well and normally it will need to be a lot longer than that. Good planning means no stress which makes us all happy.

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