A proper planning is necessary to prevent the lost of valuable corporate data and assets during a relocation. The IT department should build a moving team that can work with other departments, physically shred and digitally wipe unneeded data and closely monitor the moving company itself.
Creating a good plan months ahead
When it comes to company relocation, time can be your friend if only you can manage it and have plenty of it. The IT department should have longer head start compared to other departments and record assets that require special care and heightened security. Identifying fragile equipments and creating a single collection point for physical keys are only two preparations among many. You should also set up a record management system that can take inventory for sensitive digital and physical data. Relocation may cause the loss of data due to equipment damages, which means you need to have a robust backup plan, including making multiple copies, which should be relatively affordable due to the declining hard drive costs. Security should also become your primary consideration.
Creating a moving team
The IT department should form a moving team, made up entirely of IT employees. A regular meeting should be held at least once a week, started months before the relocation. Smaller subgroups may be necessary to deal with specific tasks. You may use the standard project-management software to manage and track the progress and make it available to everyone. It is certainly important to consistently update the schedule, so the rest of the company is aware of the IT department relocation plan.
Reducing the number of items you need to move
Fewer items require fewer boxes, which can make tracking easier to do. It is a good time to purge obsolete, unneeded data, so a subgroup may need to be established for the data disposal effort. When it comes to eliminating your data, a managed effort may be necessary. Some companies organized a data shredding campaign, a few months before the move. Departments were told to choose unneeded documents and dump it to a large plastic tub, which will be sent to the data disposal team. Each department manager should oversee the cleanup process to ensure better security. Relocating companies are at risk of being intruded by dumpster divers who are a part of industrial espionage. Consequently, the security personnel should safeguard the data elimination process. Before relocating, it is a good idea to liquidate old, unused equipments by selling them at attractive and reasonable prices. Selling bulky CRT monitors might be a good idea, but special consideration should be placed on storage media. It is strongly inadvisable to sell old hard drives and used portable storage media, even if you’ve wiped their contents. The IT department should physically destroy them; make sure all magnetic discs in hard drive and IC chips in portable storage media are completely smashed to bits. The fewer items you move the less you’ll spend on manpower and trucks; in addition, organizing the space on your new office will be much easier.
Choosing a dependable mover
Money is not the only consideration when it comes to choosing a mover for the IT department. It can be costly if expensive equipments are damaged, so IT department may need to hire a separate mover that specializes in transporting delicate electronic devices. Also, when transporting important equipments, you may need to use two medium-sized trucks than a large one, to avoid losing everything you have in a traffic accident. Sensitive paper documents should be brought personally by the IT staff.
Taping the boxes
If you think sealing boxes is an unimportant, menial task, think again. Proper taping may show whether a box was opened without permission during the move. Taping your box is a worthwhile investment, because you can immediately start an investigation when you see a box was tampered with. You can use regular tape and ask the staff who tapes the box write his or her name halfway between the tape and the box surface, so you’ll know if the box has been resealed. Inventorying your box will also be easier if you label them, for example with, “1 of 10”, “2 of 10” and so on. Also make a list about the content of each numbered box. You can transport a cabinet with items still stored in it. Add extra locks as the original lock can be picked simply with paper clips. You should also put sealing tape over all drawers to know whether someone has broken in. Establish an inventory team that can go back through the list, if something turns up missing. They should immediately know about its content and who has the ownership of the box. As soon as file cabinets and boxes arrive at the destination, make sure their seals are intact and they’re placed in a secure location, with a small security team assigned to them, if possible. The security office should sign each box and equipment that brought in and out of the area. There should be a list of anyone who has the permission to access the area, including the name of movers.
You shouldn’t completely trust your moving company. An IT department should establish a monitoring team that accompanies the mover and watch its activity, from picking up your boxes and equipments, loading, unloading, to arranging them in your new location. Team members should watch any suspicious behaviors and given specific individual assignments. Of course, it isn’t possible to watch the mover at all times, but make sure you don’t leave equipments unattended both in your old and new locations. After every phase of relocation is performed, you should look for physical damages, because it’s ridiculous to come back a month later saying, “this cabinet was damaged”. Some companies went even further, IT staff not the movers, brought highly sensitive boxes to truck, escorted by the security escorts. Someone should watch the boxes while they were loaded and a company car follow the truck to the new location.
Before the moving trucks roll away, both your department and the moving company should agree with the route. That way, you’ll know how long the transit phase would take. If the new location is more than 350 miles away, you should know where the trucks will stop. Just like on boxes, you should also seal the truck door with tape, to know whether it stays closed during the move.
Keeping strangers away
The actual moving day is often chaotic, with movers walking the hallways and doors propped open. You should take extra precaution to make sure intruders can’t take advantage of your situation. With corporate and industrial espionage, it isn’t unheard of that some of the movers are actually employees of a competing company, “hired” recently by the moving company. If espionage is an evident risk in your IT field, make sure you make a thorough background check on each mover and choose only those who have worked with the moving company for more than three years. Things can get even more complicated, if your location is a multi-tenant building, as people from neighboring companies may also use the same loading/unloading dock. In a public area, it is perfectly possible for a passerby to quickly gain an access. The moving team, security team and the movers should gather initially and get to know each other. Employees should ask for ID if they encounter people they don’t recognize, although a badge is useful, you shouldn’t rely on it too much. With boxes flying back and forth and door open wide, it’s easy to lose a few laptops even if you have a tight security. So keep your eyes open.
Some corporate relocation can be good for public relations, but most are not. It is a good idea to publicize the relocation after the move is completed, especially if your company is related to intellectual property. There were cases, where “construction workers” planted listening devices on the new office location. Months before the move, you should make sure employees won’t reveal details about the company relocation verbally to other people or on social networks. You may need to lock down the entire new office before the move, assign a few security guards and put the tape on the doors.
Choosing the right moment
Summer and holidays can be the busiest time, so you should move only on the right time. The first quarter is often the least busy day, as many people have returned to work after a long vacation. It is a good idea to depart the city early (at about 5 AM) and arrive to the destination city at about the same time.
Celebrating your success
Relocating an IT department is often more stressful than other departments, that way a proper celebration is in order, after everything has been put to place and is working. This should be a good time to loosen some tight knots and make everyone ready emotionally to work at the new location.