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Services

Services are an easily overlooked but essential part of the moving process. This page aims to help you plan for these. The main services you should consider are all covered here:

IT - Phones

Is the phone system that you use suitable for your organisation? Although simple analogue lines (standard telephone lines provided by BT) are adequate for very small organisations, once you get above 3 lines you should think about investing in a phone system. A phone system will offer you better features and prove more cost effective.

Features

Phone systems can offer you a variety of useful features including:
  • call forwarding
  • transferring between extensions
  • picking up calls from other extensions
  • free internal calls
  • built-in voicemail
  • more advanced systems can offer you further functionality such as conference calling or Voice Over IP calls (such as Skype) which allow calling over the internet to reduce costs.

Cost

A phone system usually uses ISDN2e lines rather than analogue lines. These are paired digital phone lines, allowing you to make 2 calls at once. You can have lots of ISDN2e lines joined together, increasing the number of simultaneous calls you can make. But importantly, unlike analogue lines, with a phone system you do not need to have a line per staff member.

If you look around your office, it is likely that less than half of your staff will be on the phone at any one time. With a phone system, phone lines are only used by ‘active’ phones, so you install fewer lines, reducing the ongoing costs. The following table estimates the number of lines you need for different sizes of organisations:

 Members of staff
Number of lines
 2  2
 4  2
 8  4
 16  6
 24  8
 36  10

It can be more expensive (especially at the outset) to install a phone system. Most require you to buy the phone system and possibly new phones. However, in in the long run, a phone system could be cheaper. You need to weigh up the costs involved against the benefits you would receive.

Please note: BT offers a service called BT Featureline, which allows you to take advantage of many of the above features without buying hardware.

Phone systems

If you are thinking of installing a system beyond a standard BT line, you should approach a telecoms company for their advice on which system to purchase. To ensure that you get the right system for your organisation, write a brief of what you want over the next few years from your telephone system. This should include:

  • the number of staff you have now - and how many you expect to have over the next 5 years
  • the number of phone numbers you need. You might need any, or all, of the following:
    • direct Dial Numbers (DDi’s) for all staff
    • fundraising numbers for specific appeals/a donations line
    • numbers for office equipment such as a fax, modem, credit card machines, franking machines
    • a RedCare Alarm line number (see Security below)
  • the features you definitely need from your phone system (for example, the ability to transfer calls, voicemail)
  • extra features you would like (such as automated menus, reception services, queueing)
  • any special needs you have (such as access to disability tools and services like TypeTalk – the telecoms company will need to check they are compatible with the system proposed)
  • an outline budget

Send this brief to several telecoms companies, compare the options and prices they quote, and then choose the option you feel is most suitable.

Organising the Installation

Once you know which sort of phone line you wish to use, you will need to contact a line provider to organise the installation. BT are still the main provider of phone lines, but you can also order lines through other providers, such as NTL or the Phone Co-Op.

You need to order your lines at least 3 weeks before moving in. This is the maximum time it should take from placing the order to the line going live. You will receive your new phone number shortly after you place your order.  However, please note that the number can be changed at the last minute making printing stationary etc. risky until such a time as the line is active.

Phone Numbers

When installing lines in your new office, you need to find out if you can transfer your existing phone numbers to the new location. If not, you need to set up the lines further in advance to find out allocated numbers and amend contact details.

You also need to decide if you wish to forward calls from the old office, or leave a voicemail message on your old number. BT can organise both of these for a charge.

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IT - Data

There are several different options for connecting your organisation to the outside world, and specifically the internet. The most important things for you to think about when deciding what sort of data line you want are:
  • the speed
  • the size of the line (related to speed)
  • the cost

Below is a table which outlines the most common options.

The most popular choice is to fit an ADSL line. You can now get relatively cheap ADSL contracts, and the advantages over a Dial-up connection outweigh the slightly higher cost. The rest of this section relates to choosing the right ADSL line.

It is important to fit the right size ADSL line with a reliable company from the start. Although it can be changed at a later date, you will be charged for changing the size of your line and for switching providers and you may lose service. A rough guide for what you may need is given below.  We would recommend that you seek your IT support company’s advice on this, too. The main things you need to consider are the size of your organisation and what you will be using the line for.

   
Dial-up (ISDN)



ADSL (Broadband)


SDS
LLU Leased Line

What is it?

Accessing your e-mails and the internet over a standard phone line

An asynchronous broadband service (data is received faster than it is sent) 

A synchronous broadband service (data is sent and received at the same speed)

A dedicated fibre-optic link between offices or between one office and the internet

Advantages

Can be cheap for very low usage

Uses a standard BT phone line. Does not ‘tie up’ the line. No waiting for connection as permanently connected. Cost effective

Good if you host services such as a website or have home workers connecting into your network. Cheap compared to a leased line

Very reliable, dedicated link. Normally comes with a service level agreement and guaranteed uptime

Disadvantages

Slow

Service failure is possible. Not ideal if you have home workers connecting in to the office

Needs a dedicated line. Costly compared to ADSL. Again, some risk of service failure

Expensive

Would suit if you...

Are very patient!

Require a fast, cheap connection but do not need to have a guaranteed service

Have several home workers or host services (email, website etc.) on your network

Are hosting critical applications on your network. You require a guaranteed permanent internet connection

 

Size of Organisation 

  • Under 10 staff: you should install at least a 1 MB ADSL line
  • 10–30 staff: you should install at least a 2 MB ADSL line
  • 30+ staff: you may be fine with a 2MB line, but it would be better to install a 4 MB ADSL line

What do you use your data line for?

The following services require larger capacity lines:
  • Virtual Private Network Connection: this is a method of connecting to your network resources (for example, files stored on the server) from other locations, or from your office to another office securely across the internet.
  • webmail email access: this is where you host webmail on your server so you can check your office e-mail from any computer with an internet connection
  • SKYPE/VOIP services: this is where you use software on your computer to enable you to make free telephone calls via the internet
  • video conferencing services

Once you have chosen the size of line you need, you should choose the company who will provide the line.
There are many many ISPs (Internet Service Providers), who are offering seemingly cheap deals on internet access. Be aware – as with most things, if it looks too good to be true it usually is! Look carefully at:

  • the length of contract
  • support contract on the line
  • download/bandwidth limit: are they placing restrictions on how much data you can transfer per month?
  • extras: are they providing you with a free domain name, email addresses or webspace?
  • is a router/firewall included in the deal? (The router is the box which connects your network to the internet; a firewall stops malicious internet traffic entering your network)

There are many good websites which allow you to compare different ISPs, based on customer reviews. Try:

 

Other ICT services

Franking Machine

  • are mail franking services available in your new building?
  • do you need to tell Royal Mail/Franking company your new address and new phone number?
  • do you need to look into leasing/buying a new franking machine?

Photocopying

  • are photocopying services available in your new building?
  • do you need to look into taking out a photocopier lease?
  • photocopier salesmen are not necessarily the people who will get you the best deal. Contact photocopier companies, such as Canon or Toshiba, directly. Some offer deals to charities where you are charged their bulk copying rate even if you are doing relatively small volumes.

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Mail

You will need to talk to Royal Mail about re-directing your post to your new address.
  • be aware: if you are moving from a multi-tenanted building, Royal Mail have been known to refuse to set up postal redirection. This is particularly true if you try to set up the service via the Royal Mail website. The best way to approach this is to visit your local post office and ask for a Re-direction Form to fill in
  • if you own a PO Box number, or a FREEPOST address, you will also have to tell Royal Mail that the address for these has altered. This should not affect the cost of your service at all

You need to tell people your new address. Find out about the best timing for this by visiting our Planning Your Move page.

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Utilities

If you are responsible for your utilities, are you happy with the providers already supplying the office? You will not be able to alter the water supplier, but you can change the energy supplier/s. See if you can find out what contracts were previously held for electricity and gas. You can then approach other companies to see if they are more competitive.

If you are an NCVO member, you may also be able to benefit from cost reductions using their Energy Package –more details are available on the NCVO website.

You can also find further information about considering the environmental impact of your energy suppliers using this link.

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Waste/Recycling

You need to find out if you are responsible for organising a waste contract with the Council for your office waste. If so, you need to set this up by contacting the Council’s Waste and Cleaning Services Department before you move in. This can usually be done at relatively short notice, but it is best to allow 2-3 weeks. You don’t want to end up with a new office full of bin bags waiting to be collected!

Does your landlord offer recycling facilities? If not or if you are buying, are there recycling providers in your new location who you might be able to use? 
  • try the council, though often they do not provide recycling facilities to businesses, which means you need to find a private company
  • Wastewatch provide a list of office recyclers in London, and details of where to go for information outside of the capital
  • Envirowise also provide information on recycling providers

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Cleaning

  • is there a cleaning contract set up for your new office?
  • are you happy with the cleaning services you receive currently? You may be able to transfer the contract to your new location
  • alternatively, you could look for a new contract. When doing so, you should consider:

If you are moving into a shared building you could also approach other users in your new building to see what cleaning services they use. You may be able to gain a discount if you act as a whole group.

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Security

Do you need to set up any security measures? If you need to install an alarm system, you will need to enlist the help of a security company. 
  • tender out this contract to several companies to ensure you get the most appropriate and competitive solution
  • the installation of a security system can take up to 6 weeks from the time you place the order, depending on how busy the security company is. The installation itself will take anything from a few days for a small system to 6 weeks for a whole building
  • you may also need to fit a separate phone line, known as a RedCare line, which will alert the security company if your alarm is activated. You need to give BT 3 weeks to install this line, and a few days for RedCare to be set up and activated on it.
  • once the system is installed, everyone has to learn how to use it. This also takes longer than you think - there is always someone who forgets their number or keys it in twice!
  • ask the security company not to go live (that is, not to connect to the central station) for a time whilst you go through the learning process. Once you go live the police tend to operate a 'one strike and you're out policy', which can leave your RedCare facility useless if it has been activated accidentally

Other security measures you might wish to look into include:

  • window locks: windows are a common point of entry for intruders. Check the existing locks to see if they are adequate
  • CCTV: this can be an expensive security measure, which should only be implemented for larger organisations, especially those leasing/owning a whole building
  • door locks: are the existing locks secure enough? You could replace them, or add further locks to increase security

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Insurance

Make sure that your insurers are aware of your change of address and the exact date of your move. You do not want to be caught with no insurance cover. Note that moving area can alter your premium. This may mean that you wish to cancel your existing contract and take out a new policy with a different provider. You will need to check the terms and conditions of your existing policy, and find out when it expires.

Free, no obligation quotations are available to those registered on the Ethical Property Foundation website from insurance brokers Poole Martin. For further information, please contact our London office.
 

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