Preparing to move into a new office space is an exciting time for business owners but can also be overwhelming when planning for the transition. Although office furniture, signage, stationery and other items can affect how the company presents itself to the public, IT decisions will determine how efficiently the business can run and impact the customer experience. The IT department is the most critical aspect of any business operation. Even a little problem with your IT infrastructure can create delays and problems in routine business operations, resulting in data issues, downtime, and security flaws. For this reason, your IT infrastructure checklist should be handled with careful forethought and planning to ensure a smooth transition.
When planning for your upcoming business move, make sure to cover all the following considerations relevant to your situation so your new location offers the best opportunity for success.
Assess Your Situation
Before creating your IT move-in plan, it’s important to note that considerations will vary depending on your situation. For example, a new business moving into its first commercial location will have different IT requirements than a business that’s relocating. A new business may need to make decisions on a full list of equipment needs, while an established company will need to make decisions on existing equipment inventory. When going through the list of IT considerations, focus on those that are relevant to your needs.
Choose Your Location
Before you can work on your move-in timeline, you need to find a space that either meets your IT needs as-is or can be customized to fit your desired IT infrastructure. This means you should take the time to assess those needs before shopping for your new location. Do you plan to use hard-wired or wireless connectivity? Will you set up an on-site server room, or do you prefer to use cloud services? How many workstations will need to be connected, and will you need additional installation of cables, outlets or phone lines to accommodate those numbers? Knowing these requirements in advance can save you money on unnecessary remodels if you find a space that already comes close to your vision. If changes are needed, make sure to set up installation early to account for possible delays.
Choose Your Providers
Next, you need to determine which providers you plan to work with. The company you choose for phone and internet service can offer valuable insight for your move by sharing best practices for equipment transfer and recommendations for upgrades and identifying potential issues your chosen location could create. If you know the location of your new office, check with local businesses in the area to see if they have any recommendations.
Other business owners can give you information about their personal experiences with vendors, sharing the intangibles that are necessary for a solid working relationship. When going through your options, make sure to investigate how each vendor handles troubleshooting. The support a vendor offers when you experience IT issues can greatly impact how quickly your business is back online. Reduced downtime saves you money and keeps your staff and customers happy.
Determine Your Equipment Needs
Now that you have a location in mind and have selected your providers, it’s time to inventory your equipment. If your business is new and this is your first location, your providers are a great resource to help get you started. Many providers offer consultations to determine what you expect from their services and can give you recommendations on the equipment that best fits your needs. Sometimes the equipment can come directly from the provider or you can purchase it separately. In either case, provider representatives can point you in the direction of what you need to obtain to get operational.
Businesses that are relocating should already have equipment used in the previous location. If you’re switching providers at the new location, you may find you have different equipment needs. This is a great time to take inventory and get rid of obsolete technology or upgrade equipment that’s outdated. Remember to factor in extra bandwidth requirements and additional phone lines if the move is part of an expansion.
This is also a great time to investigate licensing for the software you need. The new software will have to be licensed before use, and current software may require additional licensing if there will be a higher number of users.
IT Assessment Checklist
Extra planning now will help create a seamless transition into your new space. Remember to anticipate potential delays and allow extra time to cushion their impact on your overall move. Delays most commonly occur in areas that depend on others, such as renovations, installations and service connections. Use the IT considerations checklist below when creating your plan to ensure you don’t miss anything important.
1. Assess equipment needs
Determine your IT goals and list the hardware and software needed to accomplish them. If you’re relocating, check your current equipment to identify areas that need an upgrade, new technology you want to incorporate and old technology you can part with. Double-check software to identify any additional licensing required. If you’re a new business, clearly outline your IT goals to discuss with your future providers.
2. Find a space
If you haven’t already, find office space that will meet your needs. Check outlets, cabling and phone lines already in place and note any additional installations needed. Remember installations have the potential for delays, so provide a time cushion in your plan. If you plan on having a dedicated server room on-site, consider climate control needs as well.
3. Choose your providers
Get recommendations on Datacom/Telecom providers from other businesses in the area. Choose providers that can serve your IT needs and will offer acceptable support when there are issues. Be mindful of your bandwidth needs and the line capacity you require, and shop for an optimal phone system. When scheduling your connections, make sure to allow for possible delays in your timeline.
4. Have providers assess your space
Once you’ve selected your providers, allow them access to your future office so they can identify any needed installations for their services and alert you to any potential issues. Ask for their input on optimizing the space to support the most stable and efficient connections.
5. Backup your data
When preparing for your move, take the time to back up all your data so nothing is lost in the transition. An information technology assessment should cover your data storage and recovery procedures as well.
The main goal is to figure out where and how you keep critical data. This can be done using physical servers or by uploading everything into the cloud. For added protection, backup your information in more than one location. The assessment checklist should cover:
Cloud storage is a way of storing data on remote servers accessed via the Internet. It can be used as a backup for files that are important to you, or as primary storage if you have a lot of data that doesn’t need to be accessed frequently.
Cloud storage providers offer different amounts of storage space, and some offer free plans with limited space. Others may charge a monthly fee for more storage space.
When choosing a cloud storage provider, it’s important to consider how reliable their service is and how easy it is to use. You also want to make sure your data is encrypted before it’s uploaded to the cloud.
A disaster recovery plan is a critical component of any business. It’s important to ensure that your organization has the necessary infrastructure and procedures in place for emergencies to happen.
A disaster recovery plan is an emergency response strategy for data, equipment, facilities, or other resources impacted by catastrophes such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and fires. A disaster recovery plan should include plans for restoring data from backup copies; protecting against natural disasters; maintaining continuous operations during emergencies; preparing employees to respond after a catastrophe occurs; providing alternate work locations if needed; etc. It’s crucial to have these measures in place before anything happens so you can minimize the impact on your company.
Backups are essential for protecting your data in the event of a disaster. By regularly backing up your data, you can ensure that you will not lose any important information if something happens to your computer or storage device. There are a variety of ways to back up your data, and it is important to choose a method that fits your needs and is easy for you to use.
Compliance is essential for all businesses, and it’s especially important for those in regulated industries. Make sure you are aware of the compliance regulations that apply to your business and make sure your IT infrastructure supports compliance efforts. This may include installing specific software, encrypting data, or having a backup and disaster recovery plan in place.
6. Plan your equipment move
Remember that IT equipment can be easily damaged if not moved properly, creating an unnecessary expense. If possible, check into hiring a moving company that has experience moving IT equipment. If you prefer to handle the move yourself, talk to your providers or other IT professionals for guidance on the safest way to move your equipment.
Your service providers will likely handle much of the setup in your new location. However, you’ll need to identify any equipment that isn’t covered so you can arrange to have it ready by opening day. If you choose to handle the setup on your own, check with your service providers to ensure anything you add is compatible with your new network.
8. Test your new network
Before you’re scheduled to be online, test your new network to ensure everything is working seamlessly. Check phone lines, new phone system features, network connections, email and any other IT systems you rely on. It’s best to test this as early as possible in case there are issues that need to be ironed out. This gives you the time you need to resolve them without having to push back your scheduled launch day.
Remember to Be Flexible
Once you’ve created your overall plan, all that’s left to do is run through each item as it comes. The plan will help ensure you’ve covered all your bases and give you a timeline to keep your IT installation on schedule. However, it’s important to remember that sometimes delays happen that are beyond your control. While you can’t prepare for every potential issue, it helps to remain flexible and give yourself additional time to cushion the impact when problems arise. Trying to rush your grand opening will invite additional stress when things don’t go according to plan. Instead, make sure your timeline is reasonable and includes space for issues you might encounter.
Your IT infrastructure is the heart of your business and impacts the experience of your staff and customers, so it’s imperative to prioritize the set up in your new office space. Taking the time to go through these necessary IT consulting service considerations will help you optimize your new systems and increase the odds of a seamless transition into your new space. Contact us at EIRE Systems today for help with your new business venture with IT.