Moving offices is always a big deal. If I’m ever inclined to forget that, Red Level’s relocation earlier this year will be enough to remind me. For months, our move had been contemplated, planned, and prepared for, and finally in the space of a few days it was completed. Fortunately, it went about as well as an office move ever could, and certainly better than most do, which all of us are grateful for.
My colleague Janet Tyler wrote about the importance of planning for our big move on the Automation Alley site, and it made me think: besides knowing what to plan, who is doing the planning makes a big difference – and vendors are often an overlooked but vital element of that process if you’re a small to medium-sized business.
When moving day comes, large companies have some major advantages that smaller businesses don’t, including large staffs to share the workload and the resources to maintain dual locations for a time and move incrementally. Besides convenience, these kinds of advantages offer one key benefit: Minimizing or eliminating downtime.
Downtime is lost time, and lost time equals lost revenue, lost productivity, and lost opportunity. These are losses that most small businesses can’t afford. To avoid them, it helps to have a trusted network of vendors to help with your move – vendors who not only perform their own functions well, but who can plan and coordinate well together so as to optimize the efficiency of your move and minimize its impact on your business.
Think of how many vendors are likely to be involved in your move: Movers, of course, plus vendors you are used to dealing with every day — banks, suppliers, logistics/shipping companies and utilities. Add in others that you’d normally expect to be involved, like construction contractors, specialty service providers like decorators, network cabling vendors, and skilled tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians. The more details you consider, the longer the list grows: IT support, ISPs, VOIP providers, security services, cleaning companies, and that guy who’s always coming out to fix the copier.
Chances are your company will be counting on most, if not all, of these vendors to make your move a success. The uncomfortable truth is that the performance of one usually impacts several of the others; a delay or fault in even a comparatively trivial part of the process can have a cascade effect affecting all downstream activities. The run-up to your moving date is the critical time when they all must not only perform their individual functions well, but perform well together.
Simply wishing that will happen won’t make it so – and all too often, that’s not what happens. We have helped many of our clients execute moves, and now we’ve seen firsthand how critical interdependent vendor relationships are. When this process has broken down, it is often due to insufficient attention being paid to potential problems and conflicts beforehand. Communication gaps and the lack of contingency planning often serve to compound the issue. To get the job done, you’ll have to work closely with your vendors, in part, to get them to work closely with each other. Better still, you’ll be careful in the vendor selection process beforehand to make sure that each of your critical partners is qualified, committed, and fully up to the task of fulfilling their responsibilities to spec and on time.
The appropriate shared goal should be to get your company up and running in its new quarters as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you choose your vendors with care, they should share your sense of urgency and demonstrate it through their actions. If you have any doubts, air them early and air them often until you can be sure that all the players in your company’s move are on the same team and on the right side.