In relocations, IT requires careful attentionInformation technology puts more on the table for moving than just moving tables
What a company has to do in order to move offices successfully has changed quite a bit over the years.
It's already evolved beyond shipping desks and other office furniture to the new location, then making sure all your folders came with you, said Jason Lucas, director of operations for Dauphin County-based computing solutions business 2K Networking.
Infrastructure now includes computers, printers, scanners and servers, and they all have to be physically transferred in a manner that allows them to start up again.
"But that's only a small part of office relocation nowadays," said Lucas, whose company started in 2000 and offers relocation coordination and support among its information technology service lines.
A business needs to think of its virtual footprint in the same manner as its physical one, he said. In both, if people can't find you in a short amount of time, you're going to lose business, Lucas said.
"If you're not crossing your T's and dotting your I's on making sure all of those services are taken care of, that's where the greatest pitfalls of doing any office relocation are," he said.
An email bouncing back to a customer if a firm's IP address has not transferred in a timely manner — or changes during a transfer of service — is among the chief concerns, Lucas said.
Another worry is whether a company hosts its own Web page and the server is down for a period of time, which results in a message that the page cannot be displayed, he said.
These cases are akin to not setting up the forwarding address with the U.S. Postal Service, resulting in packages being returned to the senders, Lucas said.
And if packages go back to a customer or a caller gets a message saying a phone number has been disconnected, clients will wonder what happened to your business and might go elsewhere, he said.
"In this day and age, that is unacceptable for a business," he said. "A business is losing money when that happens."
2K does not have staff or management devoted solely to relocations — there isn't enough business in that — but includes moving coordination for information technology among its offerings, Lucas said.
Lucas said 2K will coordinate with service providers as well as inspect and install infrastructure at the new location to make sure everything will work properly once equipment and services are moved over.
This includes checking out wiring and making sure a room where servers will go is properly cooled — and even making sure the equipment that provided wireless Internet at the old office is enough to cover the often larger new space, Lucas said.
The firm's core services include a wide range of IT support, including going as far as serving all the functions of a company's internal department if none exists, he said.
It also will handle all types of IT projects, such as building and installing new systems, and it will perform security sweeps, Lucas said.
Some customers it has worked with say they will handle coordinating the move with telephone and Internet service providers, but many companies underestimate how complicated that can be and how many problems can occur, Lucas said.
When Cumberland County-based 2K client Pennsylvania Homecare Association moved to larger offices this spring, it took 2K up on coordinating the IT relocation, said Denise Deimler, its finance director.
2K made the transfer arrangements, made sure each office was wired correctly and performed other services, Deimler said.
In the end, a lot did go wrong that wasn't 2K's fault, and 2K was able to troubleshoot all of it into the evening instead of the association having to deal with the problems, she said.
Dauphin County-based Morganstein De Falcis Rehabilitation Institute moved this summer and also used the vendor to coordinate the information technology transfer, said Gina Wilson, its office manager.
The practice's rehabilitation staff also works at other offices around the region or at nursing homes and hospitals, and they have to connect to the firm's main server to access electronic medical records, she said.
When the practice first installed the system, doctors were knocked off constantly, adding time to appointments, Wilson said. It eventually decided to switch vendors to 2K, and problems were solved in about a week, she said.
If something were to be messed up in a move, the ramifications would be significant, Wilson said.
"We would have been dead in the water," she said. "We would not have been able to see a patient."
2K's work during the relocation and in general has been great, Wilson said.
"They are top shelf. I cannot say that enough," she said.