Planning for Moving Day

Clients frequently ask us for advice on moving their computers to a new office. With a little planning and forethought, moving can actually be a fairly painless process.

First, allow plenty of time to plan the move and prepare your new office. Waiting until the last minute inevitably leads to scheduling problems. Determine your priorities and identify your major systems, along with acceptable downtimes for each. If you feel you may not have the time considering all the arrangements that must be coordinated, we suggest involving someone who has more experience with moving companies, such as your network or telephone consultant.

Phone System

Many businesses regard their phone system as the cornerstone of their operation, since it is still the main method of communication with customers. Unfortunately it also requires the most lead time to plan. With the exploding popularity of cell phones, pagers, and broadband Internet connections such as DSL, local phone companies are currently overwhelmed by the demand. Frequently installation times for new phone lines can be several weeks or more.

One question is, should you keep your existing phone number? Your first answer may be yes, but advantages exist for switching to a new number. To begin with, this allows Ameritech and your phone system consultants to install and test the lines before you move, making sure any hunt groups are configured correctly. Also, with new numbers you remove any pressure to have Ameritech switch the lines correctly from one system into another.

This transition period is also a great time to install a new phone system, with no downtime to your operation. Voice mail, Internet telephony, and other new features can be installed and configured before the move. Otherwise you may want to plan for overtime to allow your existing system to be moved and reassembled the night before the big move to minimize downtime during the day.

Internet Connection

As with phone lines, setting up Internet connectivity at your new office will likely take longer than you suspect. For example, a DSL connection typically takes 4-6 weeks to install, with other service options having a comparable lead time.

If you have not considered a broadband (high speed, typically always-on) Internet connection, you may want to think about it. As we have mentioned in previous articles, a DSL or cable connection can be less expensive than even two hours of dial-up usage per day, and provides a far higher speed.

Office Wiring

Before you can connect anything in your new office, there must be something to which you can connect! Network consultants, electricians, telephone consultants, and even specialty wiring companies can all install the wires. However, we recommend that the same organization installs all wires (network and phone) to gain the cost savings found by not duplicating the labor to pull wires separately to each wall plate.

Network connections should at least meet the Category-5 standard for wiring. Telephones are less sensitive to line noise but as of January 2000 require Category-3 wire, which we have been installing for quite some time. Some companies opt for Category-5 wiring throughout the system, and perhaps fiber optic cable as well, to allow for future expansion.

Make sure your installer performs a frequency test from end to end on each network connection, instead of a basic continuity test. This test guarantees the wire, as installed, supports today's higher network speeds.

As with their telephone system, some companies choose to upgrade their computer network to newer, faster standards at moving time. Since 100Base-T is backwards compatible with the older 10Base-T standard while providing up to ten times the speed, new network switches provide an immediate speed boost to newer PCs while allowing older PCs to be upgraded or replaced at your leisure. Plus, the new equipment can be installed prior to the move, allowing users to connect PCs as soon as they arrive.

Moving Day

When moving day arrives, we have found it simplest to number each computer case, monitor, and other large items, then put each PC's cables, mouse, and assorted objects into a two gallon plastic bag marked with the same number. This allows the gear to be moved quickly to the new office and eliminates any confusion when reconnecting peripherals. Many newer systems sport color-coded connectors, but you can also number or mark cables to know where they should connect.

If everything goes as planned, moving a computer network can be as easy as packing everything up and reassembling the PCs at your new location. Telephone systems can be almost as easy, but require more careful planning when migrating your existing system and/or phone numbers to a new building.

July 2000

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