Office Moves and IT Moves aren’t the Same
Most small business owners and office managers dread office moves, and who can blame them? There’s an abundance of things to worry about, from getting boxes to keeping people from popping the bubble wrap, and that’s before we get to the fun and stress of moving the office technology. IT Moves are complex. It’s not like a lamp that you unplug here and plug back in there – computers, networks, phones, and basically anything with an electronic pulse needs to be handled specially and the place they’re going needs to be properly prepared. It’s overwhelming to figure out how to just get started.
A Moving Experience
Over the years CLARK has successfully moved the entire IT infrastructure for hundreds of small businesses. At first, it was just me moving everything – AND yes, I will admit that it was nerve-wracking for me too! It took only a few of them for me to realize that planning is the key to a successful move. Once I understood that the moves became easier, and it’s now one of our favorite jobs.
Moving an IT infrastructure can be quite complicated. Not only do you have to worry about disconnecting and moving the technology, but you also have to figure out what services you need, when to order them, and how to reconnect everything in the new location. With so many things to budget for already, finding places to save money can be important, and IT companies typically charge an exorbitant amount of money to move technology. I’ve seen many attempted DIY office moves and in my experience, it doesn’t save money, it ends up costing a whole lot more.
When things aren’t working after the move, the problems tend to lie in the new infrastructure, and that’s a time-consuming fix!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve seen small businesses do the right thing and call for help, but because their IT company was either inexperienced or not organized or both, the move was a mess.
CLARK has been called into action for both situations, and believe me, straightening out a mess is much more expensive than doing it right the first time!
Some Moving Advice
After completing my first few moves, I discovered that if we pay attention to a few key aspects of it, the move itself could be a breeze. As CLARK has continued to grow and we continue to successfully complete technology moves with these best practices, I thought I would share.
First, your new office must be made ready for your technology. I shake my head whenever I see this aspect violated by an IT company. Whether you’re doing it yourself or if you have an IT company helping you, there are three things that must be done to make sure that the new space is ready for the technology:
Are there power and data outlets at desk locations? This gets missed A LOT and then it’s a scramble to the store to buy extra long network cables and extension cords for power. Avoid these problems by making sure that there are connections for both your phones and computers EVERYWHERE you need them.
Anywhere you have a desk and computer, you are going to need power outlets and network drops for the computer and phone.
Identify everything that needs to be connected to the network and annotate the location of drops and WiFi locations on a drawing. This way you’ll know where things like a wireless access point, security cameras, and conference room equipment will be needed. I like to walk the existing office and list everything I see that needs to be connected to the network or Internet. Once I have this list it’s just a matter of knowing where each item will be relocated and confirming that there are power and network connections available. If there’s not, it will be a whole lot easier to have these installed by your IT company, general contractor, or electrician before moving everything in.
Be sure your vendors are coordinating with one another. This is critical but almost ALWAYS missed – and missing it causes confusion and a lot of bumbling around during the move. One of the things we do best at CLARK is coordination, and it has allowed us to excel at things like moving small businesses’ IT infrastructures. We take this headache away by doing the coordination ourselves and here are the four primary steps we take:
Don’t miss doing this! Before your movers can move things like desks, the computers need to be broken down and removed. At the other end of the move, desks have to be set up before computers can be put in place. There are also other things that need to be worked out, like whose moving the printers, or unmounting and remounting wireless access points and TVs.
For these reasons and others, it’s important to have a meeting between your IT organization and your moving company to work out all the logistics.
If there is a printer or copier under a lease, this is vital!
A lot of leasing contracts state that if you move a leased printer yourself, it will void the warranty and that can be very costly. Beyond this, one of the things that almost everyone forgets is that these printers need a network connection in addition to power.
There have been so many times that we’ve gotten calls about office printers not working only to show up and find that they’ve been put into a corner with no network connections anywhere close.
There are few things more frustrating than showing up for part of the move process and finding the building locked. It might seem like common sense but we’ve shown up to find the new location locked enough times to know just how important this step can be. This move is going to be costly enough without having to pay people to stand around and wait to work.
All during the move process, from the planning process all the way up to the final move, people will need access to the new location. In order to make sure no one wastes time waiting on keys, we do the following:
- Create a log to record all keys. Knowing who has keys to your new location is vital. With the log, we note which employees and vendors have keys or security codes, along with the time and date they were provided. Security is essential! Every key gets signed for with the understanding that the person who signed for it is responsible for ensuring that it is not duplicated and that it is returned at the end of the move.
- Ensure that everything is unlocked when people arrive. Vendors, contractors, and movers are going to charge you for any time spent standing around if they are waiting for someone to bring keys. Trust me, this little step is missed too many times.
- Setup a calendar reminder to collect the keys post-move. Those keys must be collected, forgetting is not an option! It’s always prudent to think about the physical security of your location and you want to start off on the right foot in your new office.
I know I mentioned this already BUT it deserves to being mentioned again. In today’s world, you can’t do business without the Internet or your phones, so not having either available will cost you money – and that cost compounds for every day you have to wait to get one or the other installed. Not only do you need to make sure that both your phone and Internet providers know what to do, but it’s important to coordinate the time and day with your IT company or phone vendor, so they can be there to make sure that it’s done right.
Take time to do the little things. Sometimes I figure things out quickly, other times I choose a more difficult path. One of the things that I learned the hard way was that the small details matter the most when doing something complicated – and infrastructure moves can be just as complicated as building a network. Here are a few lessons learned that are worth the time to take:
Did I mention Label?
Every phone, computer, monitor, and printer must be labeled with each employee’s full name, as well as the location the equipment will go in the new office. This ensures that no one’s equipment gets mixed up with anyone else’s. The last thing you want is for people to show up on their first day in the new office and spend time looking for the stuff they need to do their jobs. Avoid this confusion by ensuring everything is labeled.
They are useful for more than just collecting trash!
At CLARK, when we do moves we use plastic bags to gather the odds and ends that come along with a computer. For example, when we break down an employee’s computer, we’ll put the keyboard, mouse, power cable, adapters, etc., into a bag – that we will then label. This way nothing gets misplaced and we have everything we need to connect the computer back together at the other end.
Also, you are going to find that doing a move generates a great deal of trash!
Moving is hard work and I’ve always found that supplying water and food (who doesn’t like free pizza or subs) shows your employees that you care and appreciate them.
On the business side, it also avoids a great deal of downtime as people go out to find their own food and water. When it comes down to it, the benefits of providing food and water far outweigh the cost.
This one is extremely important! The room or closet that will house your network equipment must be ready for the servers and routers – this means ample power, ventilation, cabling, and panels. If you’re are thinking about doing this move yourself, please engage with your IT company for this part – fixing this after the fact will cost you a lot more time and money than you want to spend.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting the equipment in a room or closet that lacks the proper ventilation and power, tripping breakers, and causing equipment to overheat. There are few things that look as unprofessional or insecure as being forced to keep the door to the server room open to keep it from overheating. Having IT review the space to make sure it’s ready on day one is essential.
Finally, don’t let IT leave until everything – and I mean everything – is tested. It doesn’t take long but for some reason, many IT people don’t test things, and this causes issues almost every time. No matter how thorough you are, something always gets missed. This is why testing is critical. The day after a stressful move the last thing you want to do is show up to find that your employees can’t get their work done because they can’t open programs, get to the Internet, or access their email.
I take testing seriously and strongly believe in it, so at CLARK we go to every desk and test every computer:
- Open a web page to confirm the internet is working.
- Perform a speed test on the internet
- Print test pages from every computer with a printer installed
- Verify shared cloud and/or network drives are connected
- Open email program, i.e. Outlook, and send a test message
- Open shared resource programs to ensure they are working
- Turn on all conference room TVs
- Connect to Wireless Networks and test access and speed
- Make a test call from every phone
- Ask employees with remote access to log in from home
As I’ve grown Clark Computer Services I found that planning brings success and that same principle applies to moving the IT infrastructure of your small business. In today’s busy world it’s far too easy – and tempting – to skip steps to cut costs. But don’t fall victim to that trap when doing a move. Call CLARK and we’ll take the stress out of the technology move for you – we love moving small businesses’ technology and we’re good at it!
I left big business to start Clark Computer Services in 2003; not because I had a grand vision, but because I had three young children who needed their Dad around. Knowing I had to replace my salary, I went door-to-door visiting small businesses to introduce myself and ask if they needed IT support. I heard story after story from business owners and office managers about IT companies not returning calls and emails, grumpy technicians showing up late or not at all, and systems being down for days, weeks, and in some cases…months. I realized quickly that there was a clear and pressing need for reliable, honest, and professional IT support completed pleasantly and on time.