Follow These Strategies to Complete a Successful Technology Relocation
By Bryan Brandenburg |
Relocating a company's information technology infrastructure is often the most complex and costly piece of the moving puzzle. It also is the most important, as IT systems are the lifeblood of most companies.
To prevent business disruptions, brokerage owners must understand how to plan and execute a successful IT relocation. This information also is useful when advising clients. As a commercial real estate professional, you're one of the first to know about your clients' plans to move. Your assistance with this process can save them valuable time and money, which translates to greater client satisfaction and stronger client relationships.
Six Steps to a Successful MoveFollow these six steps to minimize business disruption and make an IT move as stress-free as possible.
Step 1: Assemble the Team.
Assemble a moving team and assign a team leader. The relocation coordinator should be responsible and accountable for the moving process and should have the authority to lead the relocation team. The size of the team depends on the company's size, but about one team member per 20 to 30 employees is a good rule of thumb. The team should have members capable of managing facility selection, moving companies, IT, telecommunications, office equipment, and systems furniture.
Due to the long lead time on cabling and equipment procurement, engage the services of a professional technology consultant early in the process. Be sure to ask for:
- references from previous technology relocations;
- experience in developing new IT centers;
- proof that they are insured and bonded; and
- detailed terms of their service contract after the move.
Step 2: Evaluate and Plan.
A move is only as good as its plan. Today's companies should start planning about five months before the relocation.
Don't underestimate the costs associated with a move. Some budget items to consider are:
- overtime and weekend rates for movers and contractors;
- decorating and space planning the new facilities;
- loss of productivity during the move; and
- redundancy and start-up costs for maintaining services during the move.
Discuss these and other costs early in the process to ensure the entire IT relocation project is budgeted accurately.
Knowing the new facility's structure and where employees sit drives almost all technology planning, so access to the new location's architectural drawings is critical. The technology consultant should assist in planning the cable deployment, server room, and telecommunications needs.
Have the consultant assess the condition of the company's existing technology equipment, as moving is an ideal time to upgrade any servers, workstations, phone systems, or other equipment that is inadequate or outdated. Also anticipate the company's future growth and ensure that sufficient rack space and cable drops for additional workstations are available. The IT consultant should write guidelines and a plan for moving the tech equipment. Insist on a copy of the plan and time line.
Also consider disaster planning, cabling, and power issues at the new facility. Learn about the property's IT infrastructure and the need for permits early in the relocation process to facilitate good decisions. Evaluate building security, network IT security, and the facility's policies and procedures.
Sometimes unexpected problems occur — even with the best planning. Develop a backup plan that includes alternate server solutions and employee IT systems and operations transfer options.
Step 3: Initiate the Project.
Hold a kick-off meeting including the team leader, key team members, the technology consultant, and any additional outside vendors. Establish communication guidelines for the group and create a time line of important dates leading up to the move. The schedule should include critical steps, such as ordering telephone and data line numbers and services and Internet service, configuring the IT room and cabling infrastructure, and arranging for the equipment transfer.
Step 4: Prepare for the Technology Relocation.
To minimize business disruption, prepare several items well in advance. Do not underestimate the importance of ordering telecommunications services early; the demand for high-speed broadband and the time needed to coordinate new numbers and systems make this a high-priority item.
If you plan to upgrade a network, install a security system, or develop special server facilities, purchase and install equipment before the move. Keep in mind that most equipment lessors prefer to move their own equipment. Check with your vendors for schedule and notice procedures; 45 to 60 days usually is adequate notice. Contact them a week before the move to confirm scheduling.
Step 5: Prepare for the Move.
Moving week is when the team leader should inform employees about the details of the move and organize a tour of the new facilities. Provide employees with instructions, labeling strategies, and relocation checklists to reduce downtime.
Data from servers and workstations is at risk during IT relocations; therefore, all key data should be backed up before moving. Equipment and cabling should be labeled to ease confusion in the new office. All telecommunications and technology installations should be completed by this stage.
Step 6: Complete the Move.
Optimally, the move should occur on a weekend, but develop a contingency plan as a backup. The team leader should double-check all details regarding phone, Internet, and network installation to ensure services are available at the new facility as well as disconnected at the old one.
This is the busiest stage for the technology vendor. Its job is to minimize your downtime and loss of productivity as the server infrastructure, workstations, and phones are transferred. They should be ready with the new equipment and prepared to assemble and connect employee equipment at the new building.
Top 10 Considerations for IT Relocation
Consider these items when relocating an IT infrastructure:
- Choose a strong moving team leader.
- Utilize a technology consultant.
- Create a move calendar.
- Properly design your new IT room.
- Order all vendor services early.
- Back up data.
- Evaluate security.
- Have a contingency plan for IT operations.
- Provide packing instructions to employees.
- Coordinate with the new landlord regarding network requirements and the property's existing IT infrastructure.