Networking

Avoid changing equipment simultaneously with office move

My company went through a physical relocation in January this year. I wrote about some of my experiences; today, I'll talk about the move again, but this time with a warning about not changing equipment at the same time as the move.

My company went through a physical relocation in January this year. I wrote about some of my experiences in this blog. Today, I'll talk about the move again, but this time with a warning about not changing equipment at the same time as the move.

Like most mid-sized companies, we had an existing PBX system already in use at the old premises. Because it was old, we decided to purchase a new one. It was a fairly easy decision since we figured it would be risky to dismantle the old PBX and expect to get it up again by the next day at the new location.

We scouted for a new system to be installed and commissioned ahead of the actual move. Installation of the PBX was uneventful if you disregard a mini scare over the wrong cable used for the wiring. Everything was on schedule and worked flawlessly. At least that's what we thought until Monday morning, when the phones started ringing en masse.

The main issue was that an IP-based telephone system works differently from a traditional one running off analog phone lines. I understood that at a technical level, however, but that didn't really prepare me.

I'm not saying that we purchased a dud; in fact, the IP-PBX performed much better than the old PBX we'd been using. The new PBX was able to handle more than double the calls - unbelievably, that turned out to be the problem.

You see, over the years, our customers had been trained to expect a busy signal when nobody was available to serve them. The busy signal resulted from the limitation of the old PBX. With the new setup however, practically all calls were getting through, but because the number of personnel picking up the calls remained unchanged, the calls were left unattended.

Customers were puzzled and then became irate, starting to call their sales representatives on their mobiles to complain. Believe me, this took a while to identify and sort out.

In a later conversation with the engineer who installed the PBX, I found out that issues like this are common. In fact, the engineer told me that he typically allocates at least a couple of days per installation to attend to such unanticipated issues.

Have you ever installed an equipment or tried out a service in which problems arose from a totally unanticipated angle?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

7 comments
Tink!
Tink!

At a previous job I was the main, er, make that [b]the only[/b] IT person. Situation was much like yours. PBX was old so prior to the move we researched and chose a new system - complete with a voicemail server in-house. The new location also happened to be old so the whole place was rewired to fit the new system as well as the computers. Funny thing was - this also happened to be right during the whole Y2K phenomenon. Since the software used was a third-party run system I had specific instructions to follow to transition the computers over. I was quite a sight, running to and fro, setting up computers, phones, testing each one, etc etc. But in the end, it all went off without a hitch! Yay! Perhaps it is the fact that there were conditions like Y2K which made me watch every detail of the move extra carefully, and in turn allowed the move to end up successfully?

jlmorris
jlmorris

Wow Paul - I've been reading your posts related to you move and it seemed like a pain in the butt! Still, lots of lessons learned for next time! (I could use you on our team if you are in the NYC area! :-) Great articles, Jonathan.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Everything is wireless.You could move your equipment any time with out the mess.I think that wireless would be inexpensive compared to running wires.Use a dish between buildings.The entire campus would be on the University network with wireless.

paulmah
paulmah

Have you ever installed an equipment or tried out a service in which problems arose from a totally unanticipated angle?

nick.letellier
nick.letellier

Seems to me more like a setup issue more than the PBX itself being the "problem". I've installed 2 PBXs now, and never had a problem. The key is to analyse the current use of a PBX before deploying a new one. Might sound like an obvious point to make, but the analysis of current PBX use (including, but not limited to, call routing to groups of people, to name only one of hundreds) is too often overlooked.

srogers
srogers

...is to put a psysical copy of the move ahead in the final location that can be brought up on it's own - and the old set is removed when the destination set is up and active. It's a tech refresh without the hassle of "will it work" on the receiving end.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Those experiences are the kind that are never learned in a book. I never would have imagined or anticipated that kind of a problem. I consider myself fortunate as I have installed countless phone systems. I will be aware of that possibility from now on. Thanks for your candor.

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