The walls are closing in on me – or so it seems. The more stuff we collect, the more room we lose, so moving to a bigger house with better office accommodations is a topic of hot discussion around these parts. It won’t be a walk in the park, nothing ever is, but I imagine that our relocation project will be a cake walk compared to what a managed service provider deals with when picking up their operation and dropping it a new physical location. Whether the move is triggered by rising real estate costs, easier access to better talent, or growth opportunities, there is a lot to consider when moving your business.
Weigh the Cost of Moving
Sadly, moving to a new business location isn’t something you can talk a couple of friends into doing for some pizza and a case of cold ones. Not only do you have to transport all your office furnishings and equipment, you’ve got a new lease or property taxes to account for, either of which may be higher than what you currently pay. There may also be hidden costs associated with decorating, renovations, system upgrades, and other things that suddenly pop up. You can’t really avoid these expenses, but anticipating them will help you budget accordingly and soften the blow once the cost of moving hits home.
Draw Up a Needs-Oriented Relocation Plan
Planning is essential to every business project, and a relocation initiative is no exception. Think of this plan as the blueprint that outlines your road to success and identifies the resources you’ll need to get there with as few disruptions as possible. A good plan will not only map out each step from A to Z, it will home in on critical business needs, such as:
- Ideal commute: Moving to a new facility may put you in closer proximity to new talent, but what about your existing staff? If you want to keep them around, their commute must be as convenient as possible no matter where you’re located.
- Employee safety: You don’t have to set up shop in a gated community, but moving your business to a high-crime area isn’t necessarily the best idea, either. After all, employees should feel safe walking back and forth to their cars.
- Competitive savvy: If your relocation efforts are driven by prosperous new markets, it could mean that competition is even more fierce than in your current location. How will you adapt in “their” territory?
- Easy access: The spot you’ve picked out may put you closer to customers, but what about your vendors, suppliers, and service providers? You want to make sure third-party partners can reach you just as easily as your customers.
- Growth potential: The facilities on your list may suit existing needs, but what about five to ten years from now? If growth is something you anticipate, your plan should revolve around finding a building that will comfortably accommodate expansion needs. Think scalability.
Identify Must-Have Building Features
There are select building features you cannot sacrifice, especially when a data center is your target destination. Some of the basics include:
Optimal location: Choosing the right location goes beyond creating an easy commute. For instance, the probability of severe weather technically makes certain areas more prone to outages and downtime than others. Mother Nature is unpredictable, but understanding the dynamics of the landscape can help you better plan for specific events the elements might throw your way.
Internet access: The Internet is literally a lifeline for IT service providers. Internet access in the data center environment varies from single-carrier connections to multiple-carrier connections that beef up capacity and redundancy. Whether the building can support your company’s exact connectivity requirements should be viewed as a make or break deal.
Environmental controls: IT equipment is sensitive in that it requires a near-perfect environment in order to perform at the level your business demands. With the proper controls in place, you can keep your equipment from getting too hot or too cold as well as maintain optimal humidity levels that protect the hardware from the threat of moisture.
Fire suppression: A fire suppression system is designed to detect fires, contain them to single area, and minimize the damage they cause. These systems range from clean agent solutions that extinguish the fire by extracting heat from the flames to conventional systems that use water for suppression. Each method comes with its own set of pros and cons so it pays to do your homework and find a facility wired with a fire suppression system you feel comfortable with.
Consistent power source: In order to keep your operation pumping around the clock, a data center must deliver a steady flow of uninterrupted power. And for your sake, an outage “should not” be the exception. Settle for nothing less than a redundant power architecture complete with battery-powered UPS systems and generators on hand to supply backup power when necessary.
Bulletproof Your Communication System
While mobile devices have enabled us to yap on the go, many companies still have the heart of their business communications rooted through the office. Communication is your direct line to both customers and partners so you want to transfer this infrastructure as smoothly as possible. You may be responsible for the cabling and wiring aspects of getting your system up and running based on the building layout and lease terms. There may also be decisions to make regarding whether you need to change your main phone number, add new lines, or switch to a different provider altogether.
On a side note, now might be the perfect time to consider upgrading your system altogether. VoIP is an increasingly popular alternative that offers enterprise class capabilities at a price that caters to a small business budget. Easy deployment, call screening, auto assistant, and conferencing are some of the many features that make VoIP-based systems a worthy investment. Additionally, there are hybrid solutions that combine traditional telephony with VoIP, cloud-based systems, and other modern technologies for the ultimate flexibility.
The Story Continues…
We’ve gone over a lot here, but I’m only getting warmed up. Stay tuned for part two when we focus on the IT-related aspects of relocation and getting your business set up in a new location.
Photo Credit: Lee Haywood via Flickr