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What to consider before moving a client's IT department

Nobody likes to move, but imagine moving a business! If you're called upon to help move a client's IT department, be sure to have this helpful checklist handy during the planning stage.

 Most small to medium businesses move at least once because they've outgrown their space. Well, you might think moving to a new home is a pain, but trust me, moving a business is a lot more complicated.

If your client moves, you're bound to be involved in the process. As soon as you hear the news, offer to supervise and coordinate the move of all IT components. Depending on your level of involvement, here's a basic checklist of preparations to ensure that moving the IT components goes smoothly.

  • I strongly suggest that you draw up a new contract. In the contract, make sure the client is responsible for all expenses, regardless of who actually pays the bills. In addition (and I can't stress this too strongly), include a clause that states clearly and without limits that you are responsible only for the equipment specifically mentioned in the contract (be sure to make that list as specific as possible).
  • If you've never moved an IT department before, consider hiring your own consultant to help.
  • Even if the mover you contract carries insurance, check with your client's insurer and your own. It might be cheaper and more efficient to attach a temporary rider while moving.
  • Before you move anything, inventory the equipment. You should already have a good inventory list, but you may need to update it. Check with the client's controller if you don't have a working list.
  • If you haven't already done so, shop around and find the most reliable and reasonably priced outfits specializing in IT equipment. Talk with their representatives to discuss rates, insurance, and so on. Ask if they have a storage facility, just in case. Try to set up a corporate account ahead of time -- that will save you a lot of paperwork later, and you might get a better rate. And, just in case, have a backup company ready to go too.
  • Make sure the new location can satisfy the client's IT requirements. Realistically, you should be involved in the actual selection process, so you can help weed out a potential space that isn't adequate for the client's IT needs.
  • Determine how many lines the company will need at the new location for phones, Internet, and the company's Wide Area Network (WAN). Most likely, the new location will need work long before you can move in and set up shop. It can take a month to order and install a T1 line. Phone lines can take a couple of weeks, but don't depend on it. (It took over two weeks just to get DSL and cable TV installed in my home. Some communities just don't move as quickly as others.) Tell the client you need at least 60 days to get services ordered and installed. If you get it done quicker, you look great.
  • If the move is a result of growth, make sure phone and Internet systems in the new location have the capacity to sustain the projected growth. You'll want to work closely with the client's management. They probably already have this information -- just ask them.
  • Perform a quick audit to find services the client no longer needs and cancel them. While you're at it, assess new services that might serve your client well. If you end up talking to vendors, don't hesitate to work a better rate for the client's current services.
  • This is a good time to purchase new equipment. You should at least broach the subject.
  • Make sure the client can take current phone numbers to the new location.
  • Once you know where the client's going and what the client needs, order the services. Keep all paperwork and receipts together and make sure they're on hand the day of the move.
  • If anyone requires payment the day of service, make sure you have the checks signed and ready. If the client is paying the bill directly, don't forget that their accounting department is also moving, so don't spring the request on them at the last minute.
  • If IT is a critical resource, how will you keep the business up and running while everyone else is moving? Not every company can unplug its IT department even for a few minutes, let alone for a day or two.

Remember that this isn't a comprehensive checklist for moving day; it's a list of things you should consider long before moving day. (If you're supervising and coordinating the actual move, you'll need someone to help because you can't be in two places at one time. Choose this person well ahead of time and include them in the planning stage.)

Have you helped a client move its IT department? If so, tell us what worked and what didn't.

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About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

9 comments
girafferemovalsper
girafferemovalsper

When it comes to moving an average sized IT department it seen that people try to avoid the expense of hiring a moving company since the only things that need to be moved are computers and accessories. However, if this job is done unprofessionally it may result in damaging some important data on your electronic devices. So think twice about hiring a mover before you decide to take off on your own.

jlmorris
jlmorris

This is a great article. Especially since the author states up front the importance of negotiating a different, separate contract for the relocation. I own a company that specializes in helping companies and their I.T departments move. Although 90% of our clients already have a full fledged I.T department, we still get to work either for, or with companies that rely on a smaller out sourced I.T services firm or sole practitioner. An office relocation is more complex and more intricate that you?ve probably ever imagined. At PcDisconnect, we?ve done thousands of them, and it took a long time to get our system (and our expectations) in place, and in check. Here are some more tips that I?d recommend: Firstly, when negotiating your contact, you should try to avoid either a flat rate, or a specific time line. Delays can stem from a double-booking of the freight elevator, a problem with furniture installation, union issues, untested and non-functioning electrical outlets to traffic delays or a slow mover. Trust me, you can plan all you want to, but you have very little control or say over when and how your space will be ready for desktop and server placement. Secondly, the project manager from the chosen moving company, and the job supervisor should be on your speed dial. Communicating with them about what should be loaded first and where to stage equipment is critical. We had staff waiting until 4am to complete a job simply because the domain controller was mistakenly packed first and took forever to get off the trucks. (Hence avoiding flat rate project fee?s.) Insurance ? Many states, including New Jersey (where PcDisconnect is based) are required by law to only insure articles that they transport for $0.60 a pound. That means that your new beast of a SQL Server is worth about $48.00. Think about additional insurance. Packing ? The way many movers pack servers, switches and desktops may look scary, but from our experience, it is very safe. For your high end equipment you definitely want to look over the packing crew to make sure everything goes smoothly. Don?t worry about the moving blankets and cardboard boxes. Movers are professionals and they know how to pack. If you are still uneasy, you can check out server packing information from companies like Rent A Crate, Morgan Industries and Tiger Box. Bringing in an expert ? If you are worried about your office relocation, you can always bring in an expert. Move consultants, computer disconnect and reconnect companies (like mine www.PcDisconnect.com !) provide full management services for a small fee. You can also email me if you have any concerns. In closing, please remember that moving house, and moving offices have nothing in common. Please; trust me on that! Jonathan Morris PcDisconnect.com

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... that's not the kind of consulting I do, so I haven't had to deal with it. But I remember back when I was an employee and we moved offices -- what a nightmare! For some reason, having enough network jacks and power outlets is always a problem -- no matter how many you put in. Good list, Susan.

ibrowej
ibrowej

Yes, it is well worth the time and expense to hire a moving professional, even when it comes to a small business. There can be a considerable loss of time and productivity if the business tries to to do too much on its own. A business needs to remain conducting its own "business" as much as possible during a move. The ideal is to have a seamless transition, avoiding distractions and delays wherever possible. It is also extremely important to find a "moving professional that specializes in moving businesses." There is a free resource that can get you in contact with local business moving professionals along with many other helpful aids. Look at : http://www.officevelocity.com/

ssharkins
ssharkins

Thank you for the additional information -- this is exactly the kind of detail that will help readers!

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... that cries out for an expert. Is there plenty of business available, though? Has the economic downturn impacted that, too?

ssharkins
ssharkins

Every time someone moves IT, it's a monster of a mess -- I have a friend who's done it 5 times now for the same company and it's always a dismal failure, but not because she doesn't try, but because management usurps her decisions. It's definitely not high on my list, but I don't turn down work generally. :)

robo_dev
robo_dev

You need a VERY good project manager..... preferably one with no family commitments, and insane dedication to the company. The move process is very similar to an actual IT Disaster scenario, only it lasts longer, is more complicated, and you do it to yourself.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I agree mostly -- I can't imagine what all goes into moving a truly large IT department -- boggles the mind.

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