When planning a relocation, many business owners underestimate the time and cost required to successfully transfer IT. In fact, they should be a primary consideration. If an employee or two is missing a desk because of furniture holdups, you can likely make do, but delays in getting your staff connected to phone and internet service are not so easily resolved. Fortunately, with a bit of background knowledge and preparation—and these four tips—you can sidestep the most common IT problems related to moving an office.
1. Consider Your Bandwidth Budget
Before submitting an offer for that new space, call around to several internet and phone service providers and find out if they service the location you're considering; whether they can deliver the bandwidth and quality of service you require; and what the associated costs are. Then you can make an informed decision about the true expense of the space you're considering.
Internet and phone service options vary greatly by location, so your monthly charges for these can change significantly when you move. For example, if you're currently paying $150 per month for a high-bandwidth, fiber-optic connection, only to find that fiber service is unavailable in your new building, you might end up paying $1,000 or more per month for the same amount of bandwidth over a copper line.
2. Get a Head Start
Involve your IT team (be it internal or outsourced) as early as possible. Installation times for internet and phone service in New York City can take six to eight weeks. If you're researching internet providers early, you'll already have begun the process of making sure that your phone and internet access are ready in time for your move-in day. However, if you wait until a month before your move-in date to place an order for internet and phone service, you may find your options severely limited.
3. Don't Skimp on Wiring
Remember to account for network wiring costs, which can run up to $150 to $200 per desk. Since you'll likely be in your new office for at least a few years to come, don't cut corners here. It's much more challenging and expensive to augment your wiring later than to do the job completely now. Plan to have your wiring vendor place jacks in all places where you might conceivably place an employee workstation, both now and in the future. Don't rely on Wi-Fi to save you—wireless signals are still not as fast and reliable as hard-wired connections. Use Wi-Fi sparingly for convenience and for mobile devices, not as a replacement for solid internal wiring.
Even if you're not currently using voice over internet protocol (VoIP), make sure you have the necessary wiring installed to support it as a future option. More businesses are making this transition all the time.
If you're fortunate enough to find a space that is prebuilt or has existing wiring, don't assume that just because there are jacks on the wall, you'll be able to make full use of them. Have a qualified IT vendor test everything. You don't want to discover on move-in day that half of the jacks are not properly wired or have been damaged over time.
4. Expect the Unexpected
When it comes to moving day, have a contingency plan for when the inevitable hiccups occur. Chances are that your business will face some necessary downtime during the move, but the trick is minimizing the impact. Be sure you clearly communicate your timeline expectations to your IT team to avoid delays.
Typically, IT equipment should be the last thing to be shut down and packed up, and the first to be unpacked and set up. Fridays make great days for office moves, as they give you and your IT team the weekend to deal with any surprises, glitches, or delays left over from moving day.
Most of the common IT mistakes made during a relocation can be prevented by thinking far in advance and involving your IT vendors and advisers from the very start of the process. If everybody has done his or her homework and planned well, your team will hit the ground running in your new home.
Michael Spadaro is the president and founder of Help with a Smile, an IT services firm specializing in outsourced help desk and managed IT services for small businesses. For more information, visit www.helpwithasmile.com.