Are you planning an office relocation? Opening a second location? Is this your first IT network setup? As Toronto IT Consultants, we've been involved in many office moves and new office setups. Here are five key office relocation and network setup tips to make your office move easier on you. We're not including the obvious ones like book the moving company or buy the computers - and focusing on some nuanced tips many people may not be aware of or may have forgotten.
Very Important Bonus Tip: Before you sign a lease, read this important post on understanding internet and WiFi speeds for Toronto small business.
Coordinating & Granting Access For Your Setup
Locks and keys? Security card access? Who will let your hired helpers in?
Before you find and hire your team of service providers for your new office setup, consider how to grant them access.
Do you have keys yet? Are there security codes or cards needed to get in? Is there a concierge who can facilitate this for you? If not, will you assign a team mate who may be needed early morning, late evenings or weekends to unlock doors or lock up at the end of the day?
Also, be prepared to coordinate amongst crews. For example, your contractor may forget to advise your IT company when it is safe to enter to begin network setup work. You may need to be the liason between them.
Prior to the actual setup, your IT Provider may need to work with you to collect accurate information such as employee names or emails to set up user accounts, phone systems etc. Be ready with an up to date list.
Depending on the size of your network, or the scope of the setup, your IT Provider may need a full weekend or a full week to complete your setup. Such projects are booked in advance. Be sure to leave enough time before opening day or move in day to allow for your business systems to be setup.
For construction or moving days, make a schedule and ask vendors to commit to their scheduled work. Be sure to include your vendors when making said schedule, and get their input to allow for reasonable but efficient timelines for everything. If they tell you it's 8 hours minimum to install your custom reception desk, don't try to force it into 6. Instead, offer a grace period on top of their estimate of 8 hours. Offer them 9 but tell them it's a firm 9 and get their commitment.
Check in with them every few hours or at least daily to ensure all is moving along well and that you will be all hooked up for your opening day.
Expect problems. They will happen. Do your best to shuffle priorities or parts of the project to keep things moving forward when an inevitable problem arises and threatens to stall the project all together.
Use the following tips to minimize time line problems.
Plan Your Electrical & Network Cabling 3 - 6 Months In Advance
Good crews can be booked months in advance. Construction often has delays.
Where are the outlets and switches in your new office? Where are the phone jacks? Where do you want your desks to be situated? Chances are you will need some phone wiring or network cabling in your new office. These cabling services are best performed during the construction phase of a new office by the contractors and electricians.
If this is not a new build, you will need to allow time for a cabler or electrician to run lines for you, and possibly re-patch and paint drywall.
These crews can be scheduled for months in advance. It's important to allow enough lead time for all these valuable service providers to fit your project into their schedules.
Having a blueprint of your new office space and lots of lead time will make this portion of your office setup easier (and less stressful) to plan. No blueprint? A basic sketch to scale can be very useful as well.
Your IT provider may also use a blueprint or sketch to plan network logistics, WiFi access point placement and more.
Plan Your IT Network Setup 1-3 Months In Advance
Good IT providers are booked in advance. Hardware orders take time to come in.
After the electrical and cabling work is done, then your IT company can begin their network setup. IT companies generally handle everything that plugs in to power after electrical work is complete, including routers, network switches, servers, WiFi access points, computers, VoIP phones, printers, scanners and so on.
As soon as your electrician is scheduled, start searching for your IT provider.
Good IT providers can be scheduled with projects weeks in advance. It also takes time to procure and receive hardware needed to setup your IT systems.
Regrettably, we have had to turn away or break the bad news to several potential clients with unrealistic expectations of having a large network setup with only 2 weeks notice. Most network switches, WiFi products, and network servers take more than 2 weeks just to be delivered, let alone to be configured and installed. Give the professionals enough time to do a good job for you by planning in advance.
Mind Your Pineapples & Be Wary Of Sweet Salespeople
Call vendors to get quotes, but don’t just look at the bottom line on an estimate. Ask what is or isn’t included.
Be aware, some vendors low ball estimates just to get you to choose them, only to jack up the price at the time of invoicing. Don’t be a victim of low estimate blindsides. Instead:
- Have the same conversation with each vendor, so when you compare estimates, you are comparing apples to apples.
- If you discuss something special with one vendor only, say a special pineapple, ask them to put it on a separate estimate which will help you more easily compare apples to apples and separately consider the special pineapples. If you lump the apple estimates with the apple+pineapple estimate, and then compare prices, forgetting about that special pineapple, you may think the vendor with the juicy pineapple is overcharging you, when in fact you’re getting multiple great services from one vendor for a fair price.
- Clarify what is or isn’t included and what might cause an unforeseen additional expense.
For example, is the cabler just running lines, or are they professionally testing and labeling each line?
Is the IT company just setting up the network or are they setting it up securely, with Active Directory, and joining every device to the master domain?
- Look at online reviews. If there is a weak web presence, question why. While it's true that many business owners are hesitant to give online reviews, many will. Your selected IT company should have some.
- Don't get swept away by flashy sales presentations or good sales people who befriend you to close a deal. They won't be the people supporting your network after installation and as your business grows. They may not even really understand what they are selling you.
- Remember you get what you pay for. Cheap is for dollar stores.
- Expect to pay a deposit to secure your project date.
Call Your Internet Service Provider 2 Months In Advance
You need internet before you even move in.
You will need a dial tone and internet connection from day one - in fact - before day one. Your IT team can't set up and configure anything without internet connectivity for testing, downloading software, updating drivers etc.
Plan for it by calling your service providers 60-90 days before your scheduled move date. It can take more than a full billing cycle to cancel or move a service. Many first time movers call too late and end up paying cancellation fees or the high price of not having service when they need it at their new location. Nothing says downtime like a business without phone or internet service.
Pro Tip: This is also a great opportunity to shop for better offers from other providers, or consider an upgrade or downgrade to your current service plans. Are you under utilizing what you pay for? Are you being hit with overage charges? Do you expect an increase in usage as a result of your move or growth? Review your usage and plans, shop for deals, and negotiate.
Update Your Address With Clients & Vendors 2 Months In Advance
They will ignore you. They will send mail to your old address. You will have to remind some multiple times.
At this time you should also contact all clients and vendors, advise them of your upcoming move, and provide your new contact information.
It may seem early but many people will fail to act on the first notice. Everyone is busy, and changing your contact information in their records is a low priority during a stressful day. But you don't want to lose potential business, referrals, mailed in payments or incoming shipments during your office relocation.
Pro Tip: Print small leaflets with your new contact information to attach to all outgoing mail. Change all employee email signatures to prompt email recipients to change their contact records for you. Also, contact the post office and inquire about mail re-routing services. This will ensure anything irregular gets forwarded to you at your new location.
Is it time for IT upgrades?
Times have changed. Cyber attacks have skyrocketed.
Did you know:
- 100% of Canadian companies surveyed in 2019 faced a cyber threat. Nearly 60% were breached in some way.
- 90% of consumers said they would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company who has outdated technology.
- 61% of consumers think an SMB is outdated is they are still using 5 year old operating systems.
- 58% of consumers use modern mobile devices but most small business do not have proper Mobile Device Management and security setup.
Startup or moving time is a great time to undertake IT upgrades. SMB’s are moving to cloud services at a rapid rate, so now might be a good time for you to explore a switch to Microsoft 365 or cloud based services of any kind for your business. At the very least, it's time to review hard drive health on all computers and servers and determine what may need upgrading.
Since IT systems will be offline for the move, it's a great time to upgrade hardware without any additional downtime for your team. If you're not sure what you need, hire an IT Consultant for an IT Audit and network review.
IT Support After Your Network Setup
Modern tech is not set it and forget it.
In this day and age of ever rising cyber threats, software updates, patches and risk, every small business network setup needs ongoing network management.
First, you may wish to consider having your IT support provider on site on opening day to resolve the inevitable quirks that can only be uncovered during a regular work day. This way, any hiccups encountered by staff on their first day after major IT and network changes can be immediately addressed. There is usually an hourly fee or a day rate for this service, so plan ahead.
Thereafter, consider continuous IT management services to keep your business running smoothly.
Network Setup and Support Services in Toronto: TUCU is an IT Consulting and Services provider serving Toronto & the GTA since 2003. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your cloud, hybrid or local network setup or relocation needs. We will help you with everything from choosing hardware to setting up and securing your VoIP phone systems, network, WiFi, cloud services and more.