Over the last few months, it has become glaringly apparent to me that no one really gives a rats about IT until it stops working. Honestly, unless you are in some way tied to IT or it forms part of your role, who really thinks about the huge amount of work it takes to ensure you have your emails with you at all times, or simply that your laptop turns on as you left it…more importantly, who cares?
Granted, everyone has their own roles and responsibilities and not everyone needs or should be thinking about your company’s DR strategy or if your server warranties are in date. The trouble is when NO ONE thinks about this.
We have had many customers over the years who ask us to help with their office moves. “Please make sure you move the servers and the IT works on day one”. Very few know the full extent to which this must be planned and painstakingly managed just to ensure that everyone can get on with their jobs in their shiny new office.
Recently one customer asked just this. Arnhem Investment Management is a boutique fund manager focused on delivering value through in-depth industry structural analysis and company research. With over 150 years of combined investment experience, the research team delivers industry-leading expertise.
There were many challenges in moving a firm like Arnhem. With large financial transactions, service disruption was a significant consideration for the relocation. All systems, such as trading platforms, market information feeds, data analysis systems, had to be functioning 100% at the start of the next business day. Not to mention email, phone, desktops or laptops and all underlying server infrastructure.
The implications of having one or more of these systems not working was not only hugely costly to the business but could have jeopardised multiple clients. Therefore BlueScale had to ensure that the project planning, implementation and execution was impeccable. Arnhem had to be relocated overnight into the new office with all systems functional for the beginning of the next business day.
BlueScale has performed hundreds of successful relocations over the years and has developed a methodical process through hard-won experience.
Our keys to success:
- Extensive Pre-Planning and Communication – When done right, most of the important work in a relocation takes place before the relocation day. When a relocation goes wrong it is usually because the plan missed critical information. It is vital to understand not just the pure technical requirements, but the broader business context – are there other business initiatives or projects underway? Can system outages occur – which systems and for how long? Communication is key.
- Battle Tested Checklists – BlueScale has relocated small offices, larger offices, corporate headquarters, multiple sites at once, sites under construction, sites with no internet, working in different industries, etc… After each project, we review our relocation checklists to make sure that we avoid stepping on the same landmines next time. This process ensures we ask the right questions up front, and that the questions we ask keep getting better.
- Identifying Dependencies – IT systems often have dependencies. Reporting systems that depend on email systems, staff scheduling systems that depend on databases. To avoid data-loss and unplanned downtime, it is important to build a dependency map, so that the shutdown and start-up sequences don’t have any unintended consequences. Often forgotten by IT are the dependencies on the non-IT components of the relocation, such as the date your new lease allows physical access, cabling and fit out lead times, ISP lead times (typically 50+ working days for fibre).
- Security – Changing your office location will change your network. Any change can introduce new vulnerabilities, but network changes, in particular, require careful security testing to ensure that the environment remains secure.
- Baseline Testing – How will you know if everything is still working after you move? For some core systems the answer will be obvious – email, internet access – but for others, a more structured test may be required. Recording baseline performance and functionality well before you move provides a controlled way to compare the before and after status of a relocation.
The moral of the BlueScale story – good communication between stakeholders is key. Do not discount the complexity of moving an office with many ‘moving’ parts. Take your time to ensure all the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed prior to moving. The time spent there can save valuable hours of downtime on the other end.
Thinking of moving office or need to upgrade your IT systems?