Tying multiple locations together - technically
Many of our clients have multiple locations and the growing challenge is how to best share resources and make sure that each location has access to the necessary information to perform their work at the highest levels. Usually, when businesses look at starting a 2nd office their main concern is location, duplicating company culture, and if the location is conducive to conducting business.
An item that often gets overlooked is how this new location will use technology to conduct that business. There are several technical factors that need to be considered when expanding your business to include another location. Below are just a few items of note and possible solutions.
First you need to cover your basics, such as phone lines and internet connection. Will you have a VoIP system that links the remote offices directly to the Main Office’s phone system? Will you use the internet to connect the remote users back to the server? If the answer is yes then you need to consider the availability of bandwidth in your new neighborhood.
A second item to consider is what type of technology you will need in the new location. Will it be necessary to have an on-site server to host the new user’s files and applications or will they need a VPN or direct tunnel back to your main server? Does the new location have a P.O.S. system with requirements and how will that information be transferred back and forth between the locations. Do the users at the new location need workstations, tablets, a wireless network? These are considerations that need to be thought about and built into your planning and consideration for opening the new location.
The third consideration is how will this new location communicate with your existing location? It is often over looked that with a ‘remote’ location communication can suffer if it isn’t planned for. Yes, everyone has a phone and email, but what about that short dialogue you are used to having with the warehouse about expected delivery time or when you ask the bookkeeper if payment has been received from a client before you make that follow up call, the remote office may not have the ability to pop in for that quick question, so it makes sense provide other methods of communication such as a Microsoft Lync, an instant messaging solution that provides that quick and easy communication without the interruption of a phone call or delay of an email.
There are literally hundreds of items to take into consideration when moving beyond just one location. I have included a few simple ones to start the conversation. If you are considering that new location in 2014 or want to improve the productivity of your existing locations be sure to address technology on the front end to help maximize productivity and minimize issues later.
written by: Chad Mohling - 12/19/2013