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Capstone Works, Inc. has been serving the Cedar Park area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

The Small Business Office Move

We've all been through an office or personal a move at some point in our lives. Whether to go to school, follow a career opportunity, or simply move to a new house, most everyone has experienced it. Moving a company, however, presents some unique challenges as the move must have minimal impact on your team's ability to serve clients or sell products. We'll discuss the range of considerations and actions you need to take to make your move surprise and hassle free. Some of the items on this list are so obvious they will require little discussion, but others are hidden landmines that can significantly affect your relationship with your vendors and clients.

Deciding to Move

Moving is not a decision made lightly. Frankly, it's costly, disruptive, and not much fun. Your decision will take into account many considerations such as: projected staff requirements, quality of work-life, access to customers and vendors, employee commute, proximity to services, lease or purchase options, and your budget.

Finding the Office Space

Once you've found a couple spaces that meet your general requirements, you'll need to think about how you'll live in the space. Where will people sit? Where will the servers and IT equipment go? How about desks, printers, phones, and computers? Mapping the space will determine where you'll need power, network jacks, etc.; more on this later.

Also, think about the fun side of work. Where will you store the snacks? Will you need a kitchen area with a microwave and a table? How about a sink, dishwasher, or a refrigerator with an ice-maker? Does the space currently have plumbing to accommodate your needs or will you need to negotiate these improvements in the terms of your lease? All of these questions will be determined by your company culture and budget.

Is the space usable "as built," or will it need modification? The fewer the mods required, the cheaper the space will be, but most landlords have some tenant improvement (TI) expectation built into their base rate, so it never hurts to ask for what you want. Worst case, your changes may require you to sign a five-year lease rather than a shorter term. You can always keep looking if the terms on the space are not agreeable.

Down to the Wiring

Once you've mapped out your space, you'll need to think about your power requirements. It's America, how hard could this be? Well, apart from standard wall outlets, you'll need to assess special power needs. For example, computer servers generate less heat running on 200V power and we all want to save the planet, right? Now is the time to plan ahead - will you want additional 110V outlets installed where the space is currently without power? It's more cost effective to get it done now than wish you had it later.

Another critical issue is the low-voltage wiring - network cabling for all your computers, access point switches, etc. - you know, the nerd stuff. You will also need to think about the location of your VoIP telephones. Don't forget, each one will need a network jack. Most VoIP phones can have a computer plug into the back of the phone, so if the phone is near a workstation computer, you can use the computer's jack for both. Don't forget the phone in the kitchen, reception, conference, or other area where a computer jack is not available. Those areas will need a network jack. This can be expensive! If the space is not currently wired for network jacks, each drop will cost between $100-150. Typically, it's OK to schedule the CAT5/CAT6 wiring install in the week before the move - very little can go wrong with this if you have a reliable wiring contractor. Your IT Services Provider almost certainly has a go-to contractor for these needs. In Austin we use Perfect Phones, as they do great work at a great price.

See the section The Technology Move for more detail on technology requirements and designing the network wiring.

What about your security alarm system and wiring? Does your space come with a system and it is adequate to cover your assets? If not, remember to contact a reputable alarm vendor to build the installation costs into your budget. Think about how sophisticated a system you want: will the action of "setting the alarm" also change the thermostat, close the blinds, etc.; work this into your budget.

Telling the World

Before your physical move, you will need file your forwarding notification with the Post Office, as well as update all of your internal and external communications with your new address. Following is a list of updates you'll need to make:

  • File a forwarding order with the Post Office.

·         Update the payable address on your invoices. You might add a "Remember we've moved" line for a while.

·         Order new business cards. If you're due for a design update, now is a great time to get it done.

  • Update your sales literature and proposals.

·         Update contracts. Contracts include a clause identifying your organization and address for official physical and electronic notices.

  • Notify your bank and update all your accounts.

·         Notify your creditors. In this world of instant email delivery of such things, this may not seem that important, but mis-delivered official statements are a threat vector for identity theft.

  • Now might be a good time to have your IT firm set-up "themed" email addresses: accounting@, sales@, invoices@, etc. Department or function themed email addresses work well if you have special alerts or notifications coming to your business - amber alerts, weather threat alerts; this saves you having to use an individual's name and email address. Individuals come and go, but business processes persist.
  • Have your IT provider update your domain registration/ownership information with a themed email address as well as your new physical address. This should be updated once a year, anyway, due to ICANN requirements.

·         Tell your clients you're moving. An email to all the stakeholders 7-10 days in advance is a good idea. Also, consider changing your organization email signatures to reinforce the upcoming or recent move.

·         Send a reminder 24 hours prior to the actual move date, particularly if the service you are able to provide may be affected. In the IT Support business, this is typically characterized as a "data center move," during which you must make sure that at least one path of contact is preserved. If you need to be contacted to maintain your level of service, keep open email and/or phone lines during the move.

·         Once the move is complete, remind them you've moved and let them know that your services have been fully restored.

·         Update your website and any other electronic marketing content, landing pages, Yelp, Facebook, Google+, Google maps, Bing Maps, etc.

·         Update your voicemail recording, especially the spoken directions to your office found in your telephone IVR (Interactive Voice Response) tree. Of course, your IT Team can be of great help here, too.

·         Exterior signage: does your building provide for or allow exterior signage? If so, it's probably a good investment, both in terms of community visibility as well as a sense of pride for your employees. I was surprised to find my team getting super excited to have the company's name on the side of a building! We hope that this also helps our recruiting efforts, as we want to convey the perception that we are here to stay. Signs take a long time to produce and install - 3 to 5 weeks is not uncommon - so think ahead.  We were very happy with our experience in using Custom Sign Creations for our both our building and window signage.

Keeping it Legal

Yes, you'll need official government permission to move into your new space, so plan for that. The cost is usually less than $100, but the real snag is that the inspection processes move at a glacial
pace - 5 to 7 working days is a "rush" in our most recent experience. Many municipalities want to see the space after the build-out is complete, but before you move anything in. They will likely want to come back once you've moved your stuff in, but before you begin working in your new space. You can see the conflict in this last requirement - your operation could be suspended until they get around to coming back to make sure you aren't storing gasoline cans next to the microwave or blocking the fire exits. (Heaven knows what they see on that day will never change, right?) The bottom line is - plan for a delay or disruption on the first real day in the new space while the fire officials make sure you're not doing anything stupid.


 

Getting Physical

Planning for physically moving your stuff from one space to another follows pretty much the same course as any move: pick a date, hire a moving company, pack, pre-move things like books, files, and light furniture or equipment that you don't use daily. This is a great time to de-clutter. Also, make sure you clean your old space, repair damage, spackle nail holes in the wall, and make it shine so you recover your security deposit.

It's useful to pre-define and label your furniture and other large items so they are moved into their proper resting places. Also, carefully label all moving boxes so they make it to the right location to make unpacking easier.

The Technology Move

Of special consideration, especially for the business relocation, is safely moving your technology from point A to point B. In this segment, we'll offer suggestions and advice based on lots of experience both executing our own moves and helping several of our Clients with their office moves.

Invest in a patch panel.   Everybody needs a proper patch panel - we've seen people skimp and just have the loose wires terminated in RJ45 plugs, but this is ugly, chaotic and not easy to manage long term - your IT team will certainly agree with this advice - spend the $200 on a patch panel already!  That said, not all your switches and IT infrastructure bits and pieces will live in the rack or near the patch panel - think about areas that may need a switch mounted in a department or where your ceiling mounted wireless access points and network connected projectors will need to go - and don't forget about the 110V plug for your projector too!

Design the network Wiring . Each office typically needs a pair of network jacks in the corner diagonally OPPOSITE the door to the room if you plan on a single desk in the room, two jacks (four drops) if two desks are planned for a single office. In the case of two occupants, having a network jack on the wall the door swings open against, at the corner of the wall farthest away from the door and then a jack diagonally opposite that first jack usually works well. 

Consider IP Changes . An often overlooked item is the potential change of IP addresses. In our last move, our IP ranges were maintained because we didn't move far, but often that is not the case.  If your IP changes you'll need to have your IT team planning ahead to change routers and DNS settings to make sure your web access, email flow, and VoIP telephone is only minimally disrupted.

Define your team's roles during the technology move . If you are in a service business, your move is not your Clients' problem, so you need maintain continuity of service during the move.  Allocate 20-30% of your staff as the Triage Team that will handle client issues during the initial technology move.  Then you know whose computers NOT to pack up on D-Day.  Pack up everyone else's workstations, keeping each workstations' items together in the plastic bins with interlocking lids.  When the box arrives at the new location, it should be numbered with the number of the office to which it will be delivered to expedite the unpacking process.

VoIP . If you use VoIP, it's simple to mirror the device to have it staged at the new location so the instant the bandwidth move is complete your old phone numbers can be in service at the new location, with at most an IP address update with your VoIP provider - no fussing with ATT, no fouled up change orders, just simple!  We typically prepare the mirror and "swap out" the old PBX for the mirror in the days preceding the move to confirm that it will function as expected in the new location.  Then we move the mirrored box and either recycle the old PBX hardware or keep it as a "hot" spare.

While on the subject of VoIP updates, don't forget to update and test the e911 for the new location - no need to dispatch the fire department to your old office for your next heart attack!

Bandwidth . Moving your bandwidth is a little more challenging. Have your IT Team involved in this from the start - they can save you money, help you avoid some of the "tricks and traps" in buying bandwidth, and keep you in contracts of appropriate length.  When moving bandwidth you have two choices: 1) adding new bandwidth at the new site while maintaining it at the old site, or 2) "transferring" the existing bandwidth.  The advantage to the former is that you can still have internet at the old office "after" the move or if the move runs into a last minute delay.  But you'll be paying for twice the bandwidth for a while, and you'll have to cancel the old bandwidth and be careful not to end up in a long term contract for both.  The advantage of the latter is that its quick and simple, but once the cut over occurs, you're committed to working out of the new space like the pig is committed to the breakfast meal.

Move on a Friday .  We're fond of moving Friday night, as this gives us all day Saturday to get Humpty Dumpty back together, and still have Sunday as the day of rest (and an extra day before Monday if something does go wrong).  Bottom line, you need to be "lights on," fans humming and bits flying on Monday morning!  This is the window in which your server, workstations, phones, switches, and data are moved. No worries, what could possible go wrong? I'm sure your IT team will check your backups just before the move, but it's a great idea to remind them of the importance of this (they are backing you up at least daily and monitoring the success of these backup jobs anyway, right?)   During this weekend adventure your IT team must be intimately involved to assure a smooth Monday morning.  DON'T MOVE YOUR BUSINESS NETWORK YOURSELF. The potential loss of productivity due to extra down-time is not worth anything you think you saved by not hiring professionals.

Home Sweet Office

Once you move in, be sure to remember to honor the terms of your lease to avoid EXPENSIVE repairs down the line.  For instance, our lease say that we are responsible for repairing the commercial air conditioning system serving our suite UNLESS we contract with a local licensed AC contractor to keep the filters changed and the system's routine maintenance performed - seems like cheap insurance to me!

Speaking of maintenance: who's going to take out the trash? Is that built into the NNN (triple net) you're already paying or will you have to contract with a firm (or a high-school kid) to get that done separately?

Host an Office Warming Party!

Once you've moved and are settled in, celebrate your new space by treating your staff members, clients, and guests to some great food and fellowship. Update your website with pictures of your new location and, especially, your staff members enjoying the new digs.


 

Fun and Fellowship are important too!
5 Tips for Saving Money on your IT
 

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715 Discovery Blvd
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Cedar Park, Texas 78613