Relocating office can be one of the most stressful times for those responsible for planning and implementing a smooth move. Communications and IT equipment including the phone system are often the biggest concern when moving. We have provided below some hints and tips which we hope will help to make your move go as smoothly as possible. We have split the information into the following four basic categories:
Make the most of assistance offered at this busy and stressful time by phone companies that are vying for your business. As long as you have allowed plenty of time to plan the move, this could be the perfect time to re-evaluate your phone system equipment as well as telephony provider.
Relocating the phone lines
Although most phone companies use the terminology “relocating phone lines”, the truth of the matter of course is that the lines are not physically moved. A relocation involves connecting new phone lines at the new premises and switching or diverting the phone number from the old lines to the new lines. If you are fortunate enough to have access to the new building early and are buying a new phone system then you can take a lot of the stress out of the move by provisioning the new phone lines and installing the new phone system before you move. This way you can have everything installed and tested and it’s just a matter of setting the diversions on the day of the move – see below.
Can I keep the same phone number?
You can keep your phone and fax numbers if you are moving to a location serviced by the same local Telephone Exchange. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because the old and new offices are only a few hundred meters apart that they must be off the same exchange. It is technically possible for buildings that are next door to one another to be serviced by different telephone exchanges. The best way to check this is to contact your phone company.
If I can’t keep the same phone number – what are my options?
There are a number of options that allow your customers to contact you via your old number(s).
- Call Forward – Transfers calls from your business number to your mobile, pager, answering service or new phone number. This is a temporary solution and can be turned on and off easily using your phone at the old premises.
- Number Redirection – Sets up a permanent diversion of calls from your old number to your new one. Number Redirection gives you the option to notify callers of your new number before being put through.
- MessageBank – Set up a personalized message attached to your old number to tell callers about your new contact details.
Whenever you have calls diverting you will be charged for the diversion – in other words you will be charged to receive calls. If you don’t want you customers to be inconvenienced and you want them to get through to you transparently then this is a cost of relocating outside of your local Exchange area that you will have to incur. If you are happy for your customers to receive a message with your new contact details then have to hang up and call back then you will not have to incur costs for calls received.
How much notice do I need to provide?
Most phone companies require a minimum of 5 working days to install a PSTN analogue phone line in a metropolitan area, 10-15 working days to install an ISDN2 service and around 30 days to install an ISDN10/20/30. Your phone company will be able to provide a more accurate estimate – ask them if they have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for provisioning new services. The more reputable companies will provide financial compensation in the event that they miss the SLA however, be sure to read the small print! Many SLA’s start from the date of order acceptance which does not help you much if it takes them 2 weeks to accept the order!
If your new building doesn’t have any or enough existing telephone cabling then the delivery time may extend to several months if building contractors are required to dig trenches and lay cables.
How many lines do I need?
This question only really applies if you are moving to expand or down size, if you are just moving and not up or down sizing then you probably require the same number of lines that you have now. Each line supports one inbound or outbound call so eight lines would support eight simultaneous conversations in or out of your building. The number of lines that you need depends on the number of staff you have and the nature of your business. For example, an outbound call centre may require one line for every member of staff whereas a lawyer’s office may only need one line per ten staff.
Analogue or digital?
If you have given yourself enough time to plan the move properly then this may be the time to reassess your telecommunications set up including the phone system, your phone company and the type of phone lines you are using. Analogue (PSTN) lines are the standard telephone line and connect to a standard telephone handset or a phone system with analogue line ports. Moving to ISDN lines provides a number of benefits but the two main ones that drive most businesses to change are direct in dial and cheaper call rates (with many providers).
Direct in dial is the ability to call directly to someone’s extension instead of having to go through reception each time. ISDN lines require a different interface on the phone system so if you are changing from PSTN to ISDN or from ISDN2 to ISDN10/20/30 make sure your phone system has suitable line cards.
ISDN2 is equivalent to 2 phone lines. ISDN10 is equivalent to 10 phone lines. If you require in dial then you would also order an in dial range. In dial ranges come in 100 number blocks so even if you have just two staff and require one ISDN2 you would still have to order a block of 100 in dial numbers – don’t worry it’s not expensive. There is often some confusion between the number of lines and the number of in dial numbers. The number of lines is determined by the number of ISDN lines, for example two ISDN2’s would give you four lines. The number of in dial numbers is 100 or a multiple of 100 depending on how many 100 number blocks you ordered. A typical scenario would be a business with two ISDN2’s and a one hundred number in dial range. They have 100 phone numbers that they could potentially advertise but they still only have four lines.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that your existing Analogue (PSTN) phone number will not be one of the 100 numbers and cannot work with a 100 number range. Therefore, if you want to retain your existing phone number you will either have to set diversions or retain a couple of Analogue (PSTN) lines for your existing phone number and use the ISDN lines for the new in dial numbers.
Relocating your internet connection
Many businesses these days rely on the Internet almost as much as their phones – some maybe more. There is nothing worse than managing a smooth transition into your new office with phone lines and phone system in place only to find the Internet is down. As with the rest of your communications infrastructure, this may also be the time to re-evaluate your Internet service and Internet Service Provider, especially if you are considering moving to a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution.
Can I relocate my existing Internet service?
This is a good question and one which you should ask as early as possible. The answer of course depends on the type of technology you are using to access the Internet (dial up, ADSL, Fibre etc) and the location of your new building. With Internet becoming such a critical business tool, many forward thinking managers are consulting their Internet Service Providers about possible office locations before committing to a new lease. If (like most people reading this article) you have not been given that luxury then you will need to contact your Internet Service Provider to determine what (if any) access is available.
How much notice do I need to provide?
This will depend entirely on the type of Internet access you require and your Internet Service Provider. DSL based services (ADSL, SHDSL, ADSL2+ etc) require a standard analogue (PSTN) phone line. Some Internet Service Providers will take care of this for you but most will require you to provide them with the phone number of an existing active service. Remember that the lead time provided to you by your Internet Service Provider assumes that there is an active analogue (PSTN) service in place, therefore the true lead time is the Internet Service Provider lead time PLUS the lead time for the relocation or installation of the phone lines.
Relocating the phone system
Depending on the number of handsets and the distance being moved, the relocation of a phone system can take several hours. If you are able to move at a weekend or some other time when your business phones can be off the air then this may be a workable solution. However, if you are in the market for a new phone system then having the new system installed, tested and operational before you move will remove a huge amount of stress.
Is there a working phone system in the new premises?
If you are moving in to an established building with an existing phone system then it is just a matter of ensuring the system works, has enough extensions and has sufficient line cards for the type and number of phone lines you require.
Do I need to cable any points in the new premises?
It is best to confirm that there are sufficient phone points cabled in the new building and that they are in the right place. Your phone system installer should be able to carry out a site survey prior to the move to ensure the cabling is up to scratch and to add any additional points if necessary.
Will the phone system allow for any growth?
Before going through the stress and expense of relocating your old phone system, find out whether this system is going to support you for the next couple of years. If not, it may be cheaper in the long run to upgrade now.
Don’t forget the diversions
If you are planning to set temporary diversions from the old premises, make sure you do this before the phone system has disconnected and put in the back of the truck!
Common Mistakes when Relocating the Phone System
Am I moving to the same Local Exchange area?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because the old and new offices are only a few hundred meters apart that they must be off the same exchange. It is technically possible for buildings that are next door to one another to be serviced by different telephone exchanges. The best way to check this is to contact your phone company.
How much notice to I need to provide?
Look out for companies that quote their provisioning times from the date of order acceptance – this won’t help you much if it takes them 2 weeks to accept the order!
Don’t cut off the Internet
All DSL based Internet services such as ADSL, SHDSL, ADSL2+ use a standard phone line to deliver the service. If you cancel or relocate a phone line with a DSL service on it, the Internet will not be relocated – it will just die.
Are there enough phone points?
Make sure you confirm that there are sufficient phone points cabled in the new building and that they are in the right place. Your phone system installer should be able to carry out a site survey prior to the move to ensure the cabling is up to scratch and to add any additional points if necessary.
Don’t forget to divert
If you are using a temporary diversion on the day of the move, make sure you set the diversion before the phones are removed.