Has your company announced a move and made you responsible for moving the technology? That’s enough to send many folks running to brush up their resume! You and I both know though that professionals will buck up and get through it but it’s a lot of work, a lot of responsibility, and failure is not an option! On the flip side though, it’s a nice feather in your cap when you run a successful move!
My first experience with a move was early in my career when I was a windows server admin at Honeywell-Measurex and participated in moving our headquarters data center from one building to another. My role was minor. I learned something though. We had an excellent IT Director who led the move. My observations from his example taught me that with good planning and diligence a move can be quite smooth and a real feather in your cap! Since then, I’ve lead two moves of my own; with responsibility for all that is IT, including end user PC/phones, the voice/data infrastructure as well as the data center. I’d like to share a few key lessons I learned along the way. Today, I’ll start with three… more will come in future posts.
The first and most important lesson I learned is that there is no better time to redesign your voice and data network than when planning for a company move!
Before I address why, I should mention that I worked for a 90 year old company, a well-developed business organization. The move involved over 100 employees and several office sites. They planned well as an organization and were in a good position financially to plan for and build a solid infrastructure that would serve us well in the years to come. I realize that is not always the case and especially for startups and small business. However, the principles discussed here, to the extent you can apply them will serve you well none the less.
So…. why be eager to redesign your network at a time when there’s so much other move related stuff to worry about? Perhaps one of the most important reasons to do it now is that moves are expensive and if you don’t do it now, you may not get another chance for some time. In both moves, I found the accounting folks were far more likely to allow me to spend money during the move due to tax incentives to be gained in replacing legacy equipment as a move related expense, whereas after they were not so willing to do so. So, you may find if you work with your accounting team that they are much more inclined to work with you at this time, especially if you can make a good sound business case for the purchases you want to make.
Another reason it’s the perfect opportunity to plan diligently for your future network, is that in many respects you’re handed a clean slate to work with. Likely, you’ll find as I did that your company has been in a long term lease and has just signed or is about to sign another one. Additionally, my company had gone through recent management changes, had a new outlook and plans for growth so change was going to happen regardless and that’s my point! Change is going to happen in a move, regardless of whether you use it to your advantage or not! So, make the best of it, use it to your advantage to improve the level of service you provide as an IT organization! I asked myself, what are the company’s plans for the next few years? How could I prepare the company to be more productive, competitive and efficient going forward? I then discussed these with the CFO and we planned for the move together. The move was a great time to consider that and plan accordingly as I planned for our new network! To the extent you can, clean house, get rid of troublesome legacy technology and purchase that which would prepare the organization for enhanced productivity, reliability and cost efficiency’s for years to come.
It’s vital to your success to work closely with your CEO, CFO, COO, call center manager and other key department heads! These can be your best allies or worst enemies! Treat them with respect, serve their interests and you’ll do well! Find out what their concerns are about the move and address them early. Also, ask about future plans and work this into your planning as discussed earlier in this post. Keep in mind too that most organizations refresh their technology on a predictable schedule, perhaps every 3-5 years. So, ask yourself, if we didn’t move, if we stayed where we are…. when would we do our next technology refresh? Where you are in your refresh cycle may or may not work to your advantage during a move. What projects and initiatives is the company planning for the next 1-5 years? Could it be that system or infrastructure upgrades may be needed prior to that to accommodate these plans? If so, does it make sense economically and otherwise to make some of those changes as part of the move? Again, gather your information from key department heads, prepare a business case and discuss it with the CFO early in the process. In fact, I’d say, that should be one of your very first if not the first step in planning!
A move is the time to look very carefully at telecommunication plans and expenses and consider using the services of a telecom broker. Why? For one thing you will need new Internet, voice and if you have more than one office WAN circuits at your new location(s). You may very well find in reviewing your telecom contracts that a move will give you a way out of existing contracts. A telecom broker should be able to look at that for you and tell you where you are. That can spell opportunity for savings! The money saved can go to the bottom line. Another possibility, ask yourself how stable has our network design been? Would the insertion of redundant paths increase the stability and uptime of your new network? If so, you may find that using a knowledgeable telecom broker will result in savings you can apply to redundant circuits and/or additional bandwidth, thus building the company a more robust, resilient network for about the same cost! You may also find that your telecom broker can assist you to identify services to ensure business continuity both during and long after your move. When I was an IT Manager I used such services and I can tell you it was a great asset. More about telecom brokers later…
Keep your eye focused on the ball! What do I mean by that? Moves can be catastrophic if not properly managed as a project. Someone must have primary responsibility for managing the move. Depending on the size of your company, as a business owner that may be you. Additionally, if you have an SMB with a lot of technology or more substantial in size, say around 30-50 employees and up, someone should be assigned to manage the technology piece of your move as a project. This should include the telephone systems, Internet, networks and more. If you’re a business owner, what’s more important than keeping your eye on your business? Nothing! Don’t get distracted from the business by a move! Likely to keep an eye on your business in the midst of a move that may take months to plan for you will need professional help. Look for more on this in my blog article about the moving parts of technology in a company move.
Those are just a few thoughts for now. I hope you find this helpful. I’ll continue with additional lessons in future posts. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think or if you have a question feel free to write and I’ll do what I can to help. Until next time…