A Network Manager’s guide to a pain-free office move

Moving offices can be made far easier with a hosted communications system that offers greater flexibility, as well as full business continuity.

Picture the scene. You are a Network Manager, trying to maintain business continuity during relocation to new corporate premises. Junior staff members don’t know how to connect an Ethernet cable, there aren’t enough sockets in the new office and meanwhile, your normal to-do list is longer than ever. Under such pressure, it’s easy to forget that PBX-hosted telephone lines and IT systems need to be transferred long before employees arrive at their new premises.

Transferring phone systems is a key element of any office move, but it’s sometimes given low priority compared to the common reasons for relocating. Now is an ideal time to consider hosted communications, making a clean break from limited, inflexible PBX systems in favour of flexible, cost-effective cloud-based solutions.

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Phone systems for SMEs

The numbers game

When planning an office move, consider the physical attributes of the new workspace. How many desks will be needed and where will they be positioned? Discuss desk layouts and seating plans – a receptionist might need different infrastructure to the MD in the next office, while customer service teams often have unique phone system requirements. How does the existing wiring infrastructure match up to these needs and if the internal walls are solid (as they are in many older buildings), will wireless networks penetrate through them?

This is also an ideal time to research new handsets and technology, such as phones that can serve as landlines and mobiles – perfect for field staff and homeworkers. If the business is expanding, how many extra phones (and lines) will be needed, and is there any likelihood of more personnel coming on board in the foreseeable future?

Start planning early

Transferring PBX-based systems can be a lengthy and laborious process. Unfamiliar buildings often present issues in terms of a lack of Ethernet access, rooms without any telephone sockets and so forth. Worse, it can take up to 60 days for existing phone lines to be transferred to a different location. Achieving this without disruption requires advanced planning, an early order placement and a guaranteed entry date for the new premises. Even then, there are no guarantees of a seamless switchover, as many Network Managers will ruefully acknowledge.

Perhaps the biggest bugbear during relocation is the fact that offices within half a mile of each other can be tied to different exchanges, meaning existing numbers can’t be ported. Client continuity is hardly aided by having to change contact details, particularly if there’s intervening downtime. This is equally true in terms of disaster recovery. If the metaphorical plane lands on the metaphorical roof, how much service interruption would be caused to communications channels that rely on a fixed PBX phone system?

Being a good host

Transferring a PBX-based system to new premises often creates frustrations and complications that can be pre-emptively averted by investing in a hosted phone system. Cloud-based management offers a flexible, easy-to-use communications solution for your office. Advanced features (such as call reporting) can be introduced with ease, and because they are constantly updated by the service provider, they’re effectively future-proof. What’s more, you can even keep your existing numbers no matter where you move to, ensuring trouble-free (and stress-free) porting.

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4 July 2014 | Cem Ahmet

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.