Top 5 tech lessons to remember when moving a business 

Relocating a business is a complex project. Many organizations find the challenge surprisingly difficult, even after dedicating time and resources to planning their office moves. 

Considering all the competing elements that must be managed when relocating a company makes it easier to understand how facility moves quickly become complicated. In addition to negotiating leases, coordinating construction or renovations, managing internal communications, moving office furniture and notifying customers and vendors of the new address, a multitude of telecommunications and information technology responsibilities demand careful attention, too. Assisting numerous office moves inevitably surfaces lessons. Here are the top five truths learned after almost 20 years in the trenches helping organizations of all sizes across a variety of industries move companies to new sites. 

1. Proper office moves require a dedicated project team

Unfortunately, most businesses can’t simply assign one person all an office move’s responsibilities. Typically there are too many details to track and manage. Business relocations tend to progress more smoothly when a team of individuals—representatives for facilities management, office management, telecom and IT—are assigned to plan and execute office moves. While every individual likely needs not attend each corresponding planning and coordination meeting, assuring each representative remains current with plans, budgets, change orders and adjustments helps ensure updates don’t introduce new challenges for which no solutions are planned or developed. For example, an architect might need to move the location of an overhead decorative panel or reroute an air duct necessary to accommodate a plumbing or electrical change. If, as sometimes happens, the new location was previously slated to receive a wireless access point, both the low-voltage cabling installer and the IT professionals deploying the wireless infrastructure in the new space will need to coordinate their own changes to accommodate underlying dependencies. 

 2. The need for adequate server and network space is often overlooked

Despite the outsized role—after all, technical systems power door access controls, security monitoring, alarm and life-safety systems, wireless networking, computers, printers, conference room displays, telephones, audio and video systems, HVAC operations, Internet connectivity and paging systems, just to name a few examples—IT and the underlying network fulfill for most organizations, designers and architects often shortchange the space and locations dedicated to housing corresponding servers, telephone equipment and network gear. All the corresponding hardware, cabling, network drops, telecom racks, electrical feeds and required space and cooling must be dedicated to housing these items. There is even a case in which a construction team completely overlooked the need for a server room and networking gear. The subsequent late scramble to accommodate the telecommunications carriers’ voice and data circuits, the telephony provider’s equipment and servers and network gear proved needlessly stressful and expensive due to needing multiple new change orders and inefficient fast-track renovations. Subsequently, proper server rooms and network closets—known within the industry as main distribution frames (MDFs) and intermediate distribution frames (IDFs)—must be included in move plans from the very beginning, especially as network and telecommunications cabling must be carefully plotted, with origination and continuation routes provided and installed to permit various floors, wings and facilities to be necessarily interconnected. Watching blueprints and touring facilities as soon as construction begins helps ensure the necessary spaces, electrical supply and low-voltage cabling are built and installed as required to service the new building and properly power operations. 

 3. Telecommunications changes typically require months of planning

Moving existing voice and data circuits requires careful planning. Businesses must guard against services being terminated prematurely at existing sites, while also ensuring service is cut over to the new facility on a specific day and time. Often, new circuits are installed alongside legacy connections being moved from an old location. Planning and coordinating these moves, and corresponding WAN IP address changes that must be accommodated with cloud application providers, telecom carriers, and security as a service partner, as well as with routers and firewalls, frequently proves complex. Worse, important site relocations are sometimes delayed due to telecom carriers requiring advance notice to move circuits. Cases have arisen in which an office manager notified a telecom provider of the need to move voice and data services within a few weeks, only to hear the process actually requires months. Don’t make such mistakes when planning your office’s move. Prioritize voice and data circuit plans and work closely with telecommunications service providers beginning early in the process to ensure required voice and data connections are ready and transitioned as needed. 

 4. There will almost always be downtime

Organizations always, almost without fail, state their office moves must occur with no operational downtime. Time-sensitive functions, such as sales personnel, customer service employees, contract and claims processors, accounts receivable staff, equities traders, various brokers and others must be able to work with no interruption. Certainly, delivering a seamless transition in which these employees work from one desk one day and a new facility and office the next is possible. But there are corresponding costs. Often there’s a need for a second network to be set up and tested before the first is migrated or shut down, as disconnecting, moving, reinstalling and updating network equipment configurations can consume days. There’s also frequently the need for corresponding network gear—including switches and routers—to be in place and online (at the same time such equipment remains behind powering existing operations at the original office) and servers and computers, not to mention the racks and furniture that accommodates those items, be in place and up and running, meaning those components can’t still be in place powering operations at the original site. Once presented the price tag for enabling such a seamless move with no measurable downtime, most organizations elect to experience a brief outage, if even on a weekend or evening, to preclude having to purchase redundant equipment, duplicate voice and data circuits and supernumerary furniture. Such accommodation often permits businesses to significantly reduce costs associated with redundant equipment and services, while still minimizing downtime. So, be sure to consider and prepare accordingly for requisite downtime necessitated by an office move. 

 5. Power requirements vary by company 

Some firms run a single router, a couple network switches and a one or two local servers. The corresponding server room or network closet power requirements are, subsequently, fairly straightforward and insignificant. Other companies, however, might operate multiple server racks, require inline generator power and need specific electrical outlets dedicated to standby power. The underlying electric dependencies for such a firm are quite different. The time to review and explore power requirements are when plans for a new office are being drafted, not after floor plans and power grids are finalized. More than once IT teams have had to meet with general contractors and electricians to address insufficiencies in original planning that failed to accommodate necessary electrical supply and power capacity within key server rooms and network closets, as well as connections between those elements. Don’t overlook an MDF’s unique power requirements or an IDF’s circuit requirements. Reviewing and confirming IT and network power dependencies early helps eliminate expensive surprises and potential delays later. 

Be prepared for crises 

Office moves, and the corresponding expense and disruptions to operations, are an understandably stressful experience. Even organizations that plan meticulously, however, discover things still go wrong. Business relocations can turn surprisingly bad late in the game, in fact, even when basic plans are carefully completed in advance. Subsequently, the best defense against unplanned debacles is planning for contingencies in advance. 

Although movers may require longer to physically pack and move equipment than originally anticipated, elevators might prove unavailable and telecom carriers may migrate a voice and data circuit incorrectly, preparing for workarounds helps ensure a company is best positioned to successfully navigate the challenging circumstances that surround moves. 

Is your office planning a move or expansion? Contact an experienced Louisville Geek relocation specialist at 502-897-7577 or [email protected] for help minimizing move-related IT troubles and disruptions.