IT Checklist: Questions Before Opening a Satellite Office
In a recent post we discussed some of the things to consider if you’re relocating offices. This can present some unique challenges, including the temporary need to have a functioning network in two locations at once. But a satellite office can increase those challenges substantially, because having two networks operating at once isn’t a 24-hour or even 7-day problem, but a continual one. If you’re not careful, this can easily double the complexity of your IT challenges.
If you’re considering a satellite office, our relocation post is a great place to start, as it details some of the things to consider before you ever sign the contract on your new office. But here are a few challenges you’ll need to address to keep your networks at each location cooperating – helping your staff communication instead of hindering it.
Data Bandwidth, Access and Privileges Across Both Offices
One of the most common challenges faced by companies moving into a satellite office is that they simply don’t have enough bandwidth to handle their daily needs of transferring data between headquarters and the satellite office. There’s a good chance that many of the large files that your company has been transferring inside of your own network will now have to travel through your ISP to get to another office. This means that a satellite office won’t just double your bandwidth needs – it could increase them much more dramatically than that. Just as importantly, this bandwidth increase will be needed at both offices. Once you’ve talked with a networking professional about your bandwidth needs, make sure to confirm with internet service providers in both locations that they can provide the necessary bandwidth, and that the cost is reasonable.
This is especially true for clients that transfer large media files. If you’re using CAD files, a large amount of video or high-resolution images such as those seen in healthcare, you will need a large amount of bandwidth if you are regularly sharing files with users at the satellite office. Your IT provider should be able to take a look at the traffic on your internal network, and help you get a feel for how much of that will be moving outside of the office, which will determine your bandwidth needs.
Users are likely to require network access at both locations, regardless of whether they are based at headquarters or the satellite office. This will likely require some bridging between the networks, which will add complexity to your network configuration. Privileges may also become more complex to maintain practically – users in different offices are less likely to know each other’s business roles, so understanding who needs access to what files becomes more logistically challenging. Although this isn’t a strictly technical problem, it can have major implications on data security.
Coordination Between Technical Providers
Up until now, you’ve probably only had one managed service provider, one internet service provider and one phone provider at a time. With a satellite office located more than 50 miles away from headquarters, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to be acquiring multiple providers for at least some of these services.
Communication between providers becomes critical in these scenarios, because you can no longer assume that the left hand understands what the right hand is doing (or even that they have been told about changes in service). Well before you open the satellite office, make sure that the technology providers at headquarters are in contact with their counterparts: future providers at the satellite office. Ensure that both are comfortable with the level of information sharing that is occurring. Going forward, you’ll need a person responsible for managing the communications not only between providers of different technology services (for example, your phone provider and your internet provider), but between the same types of services at different locations. Keeping the lanes of conversation open between providers can prevent many of the most damaging problems from happening.
Improved Remote Work Access
While a satellite office can provide access to new markets, it’s rarely the case that they can stand alone as soon as they’re opened. In many cases, staff from headquarters will be making frequent road trips to ensure that their new co-workers at the satellite office are getting off to a smooth start. Because of this, remote network access is actually more critical in the first weeks and months of a new office opening than in future months or years, meaning that remote access isn’t something you’ll want to get up and running smoothly after the satellite office opens. You’ll want to have remote network access up and running from day one.
Here are a few remote work considerations:
- More so than ever, your employees will need to access the internal network from the road. Several of them will likely have some overnight hotel stays in their near future.
- If laptops aren’t encrypted, and data isn’t regularly backed up, this would be a good time to consider that as well. Inevitably, a laptop will be left in a hotel, rental car, or airport, and it won’t be returned. A stolen laptop shouldn’t cause you any more distress than the cost of acquiring a new one, and the short period of time your employee will be without a laptop of their own.
- If your headquarters staff is logging into the headquarters network at the satellite office, you’ll want to make sure there are no hiccups. Those first days are when satellite office employees will be trained on how the company operates, and that will require access to files from headquarters.
With careful planning and execution, a new location can be an exciting opportunity to expand the success your company has found into more markets and more customers. If you’re considering opening a satellite office of your own and you’d like help making sure that technology doesn’t get in the way of this success, give us a call at 919-779-0954 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.