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Moving Your Communications Center

Many companies Communications managers believe they can successfully relocate their telephone and data center hardware with their own project management, processes and procedures. The manager possesses a strong belief that no matter how good their vendors might be, they don’t have the insight into the data center that they and their center’s staff have. Unless the manager has experienced a communications center move, it is impossible to understand the time, effort and detail required to succeed.  The professional project management, with all the advantages it has to offer to address the task of relocation can be worked into any budget.  A failed or delayed move could mean significant downtime for critical systems, resulting in lost time, resources and revenue for the entire agency.

Corporate Telephone Services Plan

1 – Select Team

Concerned that the costs associated with professional project management may be out of line with the task to be performed, review staff experience accounting for those who have handled a major move.

- Gauge and Schedule the Work

Knowing what to do and when to do it is the beginning to any new project. Break down the structure of these two critical tasks. They are the foundation for planning the move. You will be on your way to knowing what needs to be done and on what schedule.  Lay out resource plan and schedule key people and all who are needed throughout project.

3 – Identify the Risks

Risk and uncertainty shadow every project but loom large over complex projects such as communication center relocations. You must plan for challenges by including time in the schedule to accommodate changes and adapt to modifications.  Personnel, Contractors, the environment, inspectors and many other unknown risks will affect the project.  Being prepared and flexible, along with a plan prioritizing system needs depending on various scenarios will ensure critical systems and applications remain available.

4 – Bring on the Right Resources

Scheduling key personnel at the right time is better than scheduling all staff for the move. It causes confusion and space is limited. Instead, schedule with key players connected to the phase which they support best as defined above.  Bringing on the right resources at the right time is efficient and effective

5 – Communicate

Communication is a key to success. During the actual move, keeping e-mail and voice mail systems running will be invaluable. Cell devices for texting, twitting and Facebook can be invaluable throughout the cutover. But long before that, instilling good project management up front will create a process for identifying all stakeholders and keeping them informed during every step of the planning, execution and completion of the relocation.

6 – Take Care of the Little Things

In the initial planning, the team must focus on the details that can turn the new-facility dream into a data-access nightmare. These include verifying completion of backups, ensuring proper labeling of racks and equipment, and double-checking that the destination can support the weight and other requirements of the agency equipment. Confirm all inspections are complete and all abandoned cable has been removed.

Tips to make it through!

  • Finalize all contracts before you start moving. Not just the lease, the Network Carriers (bandwidth), Redundancy Provider, Answering Service, etc.
  • Ensure that you have an experienced team that can be dedicated to the project, the date and the follow up
  • Schedule biweekly team review meetings via conference call and keep a status history of each task to ensure that no task is forgotten. Site walk thru and office meetings help keep all vendors on track.
  • Stay on top of the tasks because small slips can turn into bigger falls if not dealt with quickly. Make the responsible party take care of the Action the first time or you cannot depend on them.
  • List every possible risk in your meeting. Then address each one at a subsequent meeting.  Keep notes of risk and result.  If you think the possibility of a risk is too remote to ever happen, list and address it anyway. It is easier to think more clearly when not dealing with an actual emergency. If the risk does occur, you’ll be prepared to deal with it.
  • Schedule the work on a regular workday when resources are likely to be available to deal with unexpected problems. If you schedule night or weekend, others vendors, carriers, builders, inspectors are not available.  By scheduling on a weekday you eliminate this possibility.
  • Consider Move-Insurance. It may pay for any damaged equipment, but you will also need insurance to address the resulting business losses. This might include the income lost while working to bring your systems up or to get users back online. Make sure your vendors are insured.
  • Always have a backup plan and don’t take anything for granted. For example, measure door openings and check the air conditioning units.
  • Check power availability. Dual feeds into a server rack don’t always equate to isolated dual circuits or redundant power sources.
  • Label, label, label and document everything. Have your destination site’s wiring verified before you start moving. Have a site plan with all voice and data cable numbers on it, which match patch panel locations.
  • Perform a test shut down prior to moving which will verify that you can reboot your servers before you move them.
  • Review your move plans with equipment vendors at on site meetings. Special shipping containers or vendor personnel may be required to maintain equipment warranties. In addition, this provides the vendor the opportunity to do a site survey and consider any complications.
  • Always give yourself enough time to obtain equipment and services. Even if you think you’ve ordered power distribution units, generators, bandwidth circuits and cables in a timely manner, they can take weeks or months to be delivered.

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