If your organization has decided to move to a new office building or make big changes to your existing systems and equipment, there is a surprising number of technology-related factors to take into consideration. More surprising is how often these factors get missed or put off until it’s too late.
Many business owners who have previously gone through office moves believe they know what they need to have covered. But with the rate of technology advancement and the evolving needs of the modern-day workforce, how prepared are you really to tackle the IT side of a move? Just think about the number of smart TVs, controlled HVAC and automatic blinds and lights that exist now but didn’t even five years ago.
To help ensure a successful move or upgrade, make sure you’re following these six tips:
1. Bring in IT During the Floorplan Design Phase
If you don’t involve IT until after your designs and floorplans have been finalized or even until after construction has begun, you’re going to be in for a shock when IT begins taking floorspace away for server rooms and ramping your budget up with additional expenses for essential equipment like cabling, network jacks and switches, and circuitry that can handle your power needs. For example, running network cabling when drywall is not yet in place is a quarter of the cost of fishing it through walls.
Bringing IT in during the design phase gives them a chance to assess what’s been overlooked. They’ll consider where you need wireless coverage for access point locations; how much cabling you’ll need to support the number of phones, computers and printers in a specific area; how many network jacks and switches you’ll need and where to place them; and where the ideal server room space is. It’s cheaper and more efficient in the long run to involve IT early.
Not to mention that we’ve seen organizations try to put high-end network equipment in the same room as office plumbing equipment that contains pressurized water. If it springs a leak, that’s thousands of dollars in IT equipment destroyed. It pays to avoid treating IT like a simple utility — especially if you’re in a regulated industry like health care or finance, where noncompliance with security regulations could cost you big.
2. Put Someone in Charge
Some organizations choose to completely outsource their IT to a third-party vendor that works on a time and materials basis. You may expect this company to play a big role in your office move, but in reality, they’re going to wait for your organization to dictate what you need them to do. Without proper direction, vital things are going to get overlooked.
We’ve seen organizations assume their general contractor will take care of cabling needs, but then the general contractor assumes IT will fulfill those needs. Or the contractor brings in an electrical subcontractor to do low-voltage cabling, only for the electrician to put cabling in the most “cost-effective” places — cost-effective for the general contractor, that is — and not where your office’s desks are actually going to be. And then you have to run unsightly cables across the floor.
It pays to have a group of people in charge who can take all of this into consideration. One person may not know absolutely everything about how to ensure all technology needs are met in a new office or during a big upgrade, but a group minimizes the chances of something getting overlooked. Wipfli, for example, has performed this role for many clients, becoming a centralized place of information and managing the different groups and vendors involved in the move.
3. Sign Contracts Early
This is a simple one. The earlier you sign your contracts, the more likely it is everything will be in place on day one of your move. For example, there’s typically a 90-day lead time for phone service. If your new office is two months from going live and you haven’t signed the contracts to move your phone numbers from your old office to your new office, that’s going to cause a huge delay. Your office can’t move without phone service.
4. Take the Opportunity to Upgrade Technology During a Move
If you’re moving offices, chances are you’re taking out loans and budgeting what you’ll need for the move. However, upgrading your equipment doesn’t cost that much more than moving your old equipment from one place to another, and if you roll upgraded equipment into the building move, it gets expended over 20-30 years. Additionally, when you upgrade your equipment, you can both significantly improve performance and save money by not having to begin replacing end-of-life equipment soon after you’ve moved it from your old office.
For growing organizations, there’s another consideration when moving buildings: not all equipment scales the same. If you’ve grown from a small business, utilizing your old equipment but expecting more from it in a larger office may actually result in lower performance. Don’t spend money on moving into a new building only to see bad performance because your technology hasn’t scaled with your organization.
5. Develop a Business Continuity Plan
This is all about minimizing downtime. For some organizations, it’s not life-or-death to have their systems go down on day one because something wasn’t done right somewhere along the way (although the longer you’re down, the more revenue you’re losing). If you’re a hospital, on the other hand, unplanned downtime is not an option. But no matter what industry you’re in, working with a specialist on business continuity planning will help you prepare for the possibility that things may go wrong, assess your risks and lay out a strategy for what you can do to get up and running again. Thinking through these risks will also help you take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place.
6. Partner With the Right People
Is there someone in your organization who has full knowledge of how security, phone, camera, audio, network and monitoring systems all interact? Do they know which departments should be responsible for planning your move and when to bring them in? Are they able to manage your vendors? Have they worked out the processes and standards that will make the move run smoothly and ensure nothing gets overlooked? With everything involved in a move, especially on the technology side, consider partnering with people who have done it all before and have the time to devote to getting it right. After all, your employees already have full-time jobs.
Wipfli has worked with many organizations to build out and coordinate their technology move and ensure a productive, issue-free environment is the result. Plus, we have many other resources at our disposal, including the specialized ability to perform cost segregation studies, which are in-depth, engineering-based analyses of the costs of acquiring, constructing or renovating a building. A cost segregation study provides you with additional depreciation deductions and can help you accelerate depreciation, increase tax deductions, defer income tax and increase cash flow, potentially savings significant tax dollars.
If you want to learn more about how we can help your organization successfully move offices or upgrade your IT equipment, click here.