As some of you know, we offer data and voice cabling services as part of our IT offerings. After years of helping clients with their network needs, it amazes me to this day how this part of an office move is neglected, misinformed, under budgeted and underestimated in terms of time to complete. Sometimes people just undervalue how much cabling costs, how much time it takes and how the quality of properly run cable verses the “cheap” solutions can be.
We recently have done 3 moves, 1 large project spanning weeks; 1 mid size for a new office construction and 1 very small 2 person move. During that time and comparing them to the previous years, I gathered some observations which in turn has become a list of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to thinking about your cabling needs prior to your actual move.
These are in order of Pre-move, During move, Post move. (In the case of construction of a new facility, you can substitute “move” with”build/construction”).
1)How many workstations and/or servers are going to be moved? Simple question you say… Not so. We worked on a job where the count was 13 before the move at the planning stage and ended up being 15 the DAY OF the move. You have laptops, tablets, printers, projectors, scanners or any industry specific machines that need network access? Those count! Anything with a network or voice connection needs to be addressed.
2)Will you be using the same internet and phone provider at the new location? Have you called and arranged the transfer? Do you have installation dates of when these things will be turned off at the old location and turned on at the new? Typically those services need 10-14 business days to process those requests so this would be one of the first things to confirm.
3)If your new location requires cabling services, has it been cleared with property management/landlord? I can’t tell you the number of times we show up to do the work and the manager of the space has no idea we are coming. Ensure communication happens to allow access for this work. If you need to provide early access, or passcards, or keys to your cabler, make sure it is done before the scheduled date.
4)Ideally provide a floorplan or drawing when you do a walk around so that a written record of where things go is established. Many times, we had to show the client the hand drawn notes to prove where something had been instructed to be placed, only to find out day of that somebody else disagreed. This would also be a good time to plan an expansion plan and discuss future needs even if they are not being implemented on this phase of the project.
5)If working with a desinger, a contractor, a mover or any other trades, ensure that your cabler is part of those conversations. Many times we end up proceeding with work that has been discussed only to find out too late that changes were made without communicating them to us. This can be a costly mistake.
6) Your cabler should be a professional and educated in his /her trade. Just like you wouldn’t ask your plumber questions regarding electrical, ensure you ask your cabler the questions you may have about all cabling. A good example here is that most electricians can run cabling but treat it like electrical wire and not like the sensitive material it is. We have had clients hire electricians to run cable, only to find out it was the wrong kind, the wrong way, the cheapest connectors and violate known standards for data/voice cabling guidelines. In one case, we had to remove and replace ALL 34 runs in an office after all the drywall was finished because the electrician thought “how hard could it be?”.
7) If ordering furniture, new constructed walls, lighting fixtures, hardwood flooring, wall paneling, customized construction materials in any areas, ensure that your cabler is involved with the discussion. We have had clients order furniture without considering where the power and cabling goes for their computers. We have had clients realize that they put marble borders around all their desks and there was no way to add the cable AFTERWARDS. We have had clients change their lighting fixtures at the last minute without realizing they crossed all of the data cabling effectively magnetizing the lines into a useless state. This too can be a costly mistake which is solved by simple communication PRIOR to action.
1) Usually cabling is done prior or post move. In the case of prior, cabling may be exposed for construction purposes, or furniture placement purposes. Ensure that movers and any other workers are aware of these issues and avoid damaging the cabling as running it again will cost more money.
2)In the case of post move, holes or markers for the cable to be run after the move may be in place. Ensure movers and workers are aware not to touch or alter those identifiers as they may be critical items.
3)In the case that cabling is being done during a move, ensure that communication between movers, workers and cablers are flowing correctly so that the different parties do not interfere with each others activities and work together to obtain the goal. Sometimes this just requires a proper introduction meeting at the beginning of the move in order for everybody to know each others roles and concerns. 10 minutes will save hours in frustration and negative issues if done first thing.
1)All cabling should be tested again once everything is in place. A good cabler will be on hand at this point to a)ensure everything is still working and b)fix or address any issues that may arise after the move is complete.
2)A cabler will provide a map/layout of where everything has been located, numbered and/or labelled for future reference and will walk the site with you to confirm everything is in order.
3)Review the plan for future expansion that was established in the PRE MOVE stage and confirm that it is still effective. Some clients cable their networks in stages and now is the time to review the next phase before it begins.
So essentially, that covers most concerns from a cabler’s point of view. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the general and obvious things in a move, that infrastructure like cabling, internet and simple voice lines get lost in the planning.
In each of those points there are details which can be discussed to the detail however the common thread to remember is simple:
COMMUNICATE, DOCUMENT and CONFIRM BEFORE you act.
Should you have any questions about any aspect of this article, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.