We have been involved in many an office move and IT always appears to be more of an afterthought than an integral part of the move. This typically results in a longer delay than necessary in the resumption of business activities.
We have seen every mistake in the book, so if you are about to begin the process of your own office move, here are our suggestions on how to organise it around your IT company to ensure the break in IT availability is as short as possible.
Don’t believe everything you read
Most companies remember to order the fibre for their internet connection in the new premises, but sadly most believe the sales pitch that it will be installed and ready by the time they move – in our experience this is rarely the case. Sadly, many companies learn the hard way, and we have seen many companies having to source Wi-Fi dongles at the last minute, or having their staff work in pubs and cafés in order to take advantage of their “free” Wi-Fi. Whatever the salespeople tell you, it is generally a minimum of three months lead-time for your fibre to be ready. A contingency would be to use a copper-based broadband service with a shorter lead-time of 10 working days.
Getting your wires crossed
Most of the people who pack and ship computers typically do not care about keeping things together. This results in everything being mixed together – cabling, keyboards, mice etc – resulting in a big mess for us to untangle at the other end. When we are involved in the move from the beginning, our experts follow a segregation and decommissioning process, e.g. labelling things properly and having a floor plan and seating plan so we can install the right PCs on the right desks straight away.
Be aware of the packing order
The server room is usually the first thing that gets packed up. The night before the move, we go to the premises, strip out the rack and get everything packed and ready. Because this is often the first to be packed properly, it is usually the first thing the movers put on the van. Everything else is then loaded up in front of it, meaning that at the new premises, it will be the last thing to be unpacked. This results in unnecessary delays, with all the desks being assembled and staff members ready for work before we have had a chance to get anyone back online. Ideally, the server room should be the last thing on the van so it is the first thing unpacked at the other end, enabling us to begin connecting the IT immediately and enabling people to get back to work as soon as possible.
Too many cooks
On the day of the office move, companies should strongly discourage their staff from going into the office. We find that whilst we are trying to rebuild and connect all the systems, people are setting up their desks and expecting everything to be powered up straight away. When this doesn’t happen, they tend to interrupt us for help, which ultimately wastes time in getting all the systems back up and running
In our experience, there is never enough power at the desks. It does not seem to matter how much power you think you need, it is never enough! That is why we always have more than enough spare cables and adapters etc. with us, so everyone has access to the power they need without delay.
Choosing the right room
When it comes to allocating rooms in the new premises, the Comms Room is often forgotten. We have found in the past that the room allocated to the servers turns out to be unsuitable, but without our involvement, many companies find this out too late. Sometimes the room turns out to be insufficiently ventilated to host IT equipment, or too small. So involve your IT Company at the planning stages to ensure your servers are housed in the best place for them.
It is also important to remember to leave enough space behind the racking in the server room to enable an engineer to work freely.
Make sure the power provision for your IT is on a different circuit. We have had a case where the entire IT system was knocked out when someone plugged in a new fridge and on another occasion a hair dryer!
Check your cables
If you have been in your office for 10 or even 20 years, the old patch cabling has probably been doing its job well. But old cables get damaged, and many companies find that after a move, they no longer work. That is why we always put in new patch cabling for any office relocation. It is very cheap and prevents delays happening because of problems with the old cabling.
It is also a good idea to check that the structured cabling in the new premises is right for your needs.
Most people understand that the air conditioning needs to be efficient enough to cool your comms room, but not many know that it is possible for aircon to be too efficient! One client had a big comms room that needed a powerful aircon unit. However, after we virtualised their systems, they needed to use less equipment. They found the aircon tripped out on a regular basis and after much investigation, we discovered that this was because the aircon was too big. It was only supposed to work with a certain amount of heat output and because the output had dropped, it was over chilling the room, freezing up and shutting down. In the end, the client had to replace the whole unit. So you always need to ask the Goldilocks’ question to make sure the aircon system is not too big and not too small, but just right.
Keep everyone informed
You must keep everyone informed about what is going on in order to prevent delays and frustration. One weekend, we went into a client’s old office to start packing up their servers but were stopped by the security guard who had not been given prior warning of our arrival and, correctly, refused to let us remove them from the premises. It took a long time for them to contact the right person to authorise our work, wasting a lot of valuable time. On another move, the client shared a lift with the local M&S but no-one had liaised with them about it. At the time we needed access to it, we discovered the shop had filled the loading bay with deliveries and we had to wait a couple of hours for them to clear it.
We believe that your IT provider should not leave the site before they have checked everything and made sure that all your equipment is up and running, enabling you to get back to business as usual as soon as possible.
If you are relocating your office and would like our help with a smooth transfer of your IT system, contact us for more information.