Most businesses move at some point, be that into completely different premises or just reconfiguring their existing space, but they could be gambling everything if they neglect to consider their IT.
Computers, software, IT - call it what you want - has become integral to the operation of almost every business and any failure or interruption, even just a short period with no internet, will have consequences. In the latest in our business IT advice series, Neil Smith of Cheltenham-based experts ReformIT, flags what you should consider so you can put your feet up - and not your blood pressure!
My business is about to move offices. I'll simply unplug my computers and server and plug them back in at my new headquarters – what could possibly go wrong?
Without planning, everything! It is crucial to liaise with your managed service provider (MSP) before you move, to ensure as seamless a transition as possible. There are often many moving parts to most businesses IT infrastructure and your MSP is best placed to understand how to move them with the minimum amount of disruption.
If a business does face a crisis with its IT as a result of a move, what should they do to manage the situation?
In a disaster where a business’s existing premises have become unusable (flood or fire perhaps), this is where a good disaster recovery plan can come into effect. Your MSP can help prepare a disaster recovery plan, but if you find yourself in an emergency without one, then any good MSP should be able to help - regardless of the crisis.
In a perfect world in which I’m looking to avoid any kind of issue at all, if I am thinking of moving my business... where should I begin?
From an IT perspective, most businesses heavily rely on the internet. Do your new premises have access to superfast or ultrafast broadband?
Determining that is not always as easy as it sounds. Gone are the days when it was just a phone call to BT. There are many different independent providers of broadband connectivity and a little local knowledge, or speaking to your potential new neighbours, can often make the difference between thinking potential new premises are viable or not.
If I have a trusted MSP looking after me, I am probably in a better position than some. What should I be asking of them?
Let them know in plenty of time that you are planning on moving and involve them in a site visit. They can make all the necessary technical checks, such as broadband availability and cost, plus availability of existing or likely cost of installing cabling and Wi-Fi.
Finally, a good IT management company will be able to help plan the logistics of the move - for example, many businesses may need to operate from both old and new premises for a period of time.
If I don't have a trusted IT company to rely on, how best to choose one?
In the context of moving offices, look for an IT company that has experience in doing this and ask for references.
Should I also be thinking about auditing my business's equipment for the move with an eye on the future?
Moving office can provide a really good opportunity to ‘clean out the cupboards’ and your new location may well provide opportunities like much faster internet access, which could precipitate a move to the cloud or a new VoIP telephone system, for example.
However, moving premises can be quite stressful, with many other moving parts to consider beyond that of the IT. So, carefully consider whether you want to add more pressure to an already complex situation.
It might be better to let the dust settle in your new premises with the equipment you have that you know works, before making any fundamental changes.
Even with the best planning, not all moves go smoothly. Should a business also be thinking of how it can continue to operate should it find itself unable to make a smooth transition?
Yes, absolutely; review your disaster recovery plan in the context of the move and risk assess the situation.
Try to consider a worst-case scenario, such as solicitors messing things up at the eleventh hour and you not being able to move. A great managed IT service provider will help you think about all of the potential risks and how best to mitigate them.
When it comes to physically moving or storing IT equipment, does this need special attention or can I rely on the removal company to handle that?
Most IT equipment is quite fragile and needs special attention when moving. Speak to your managed IT service provider, as they will have a lot of experience in handling this kind of equipment properly. They can best advise how it should be relocated and who should do it.
ReformIT had first-hand experience only recently of handling just such a move for a client. How did it go?
We moved a multi-million pound manufacturing business based in Stonehouse from its old factory to a brand new purpose-built facility.
ReformIT was involved from the early planning stages. The client needed to be able to operate from both factories for a period of a couple of months, whilst also keeping seamless operations in their Welsh production facility nearly 200 miles away.
ReformIT were responsible for arranging broadband connectivity; wireless infrastructure; design of cabling infrastructure; installation of core network equipment; move of core server infrastructure – out of hours to minimise disruption; liaising with and assisting third party equipment installers at the new production facility; installing CCTV; continual testing and monitoring of all systems to ensure proper functionality and crucially, security.