Riordan Manufacturing, Inc. has been able to make way into the global business arena with a strong footing. Riordan has established operating plants in San Jose, CA, Albany, GA, Pontiac, MI, and Hangzhou, China. In addition, the quantity of plastic fan parts manufactured in the Hangzhou plant has increased, adding significant shipping costs. This plant is currently incurring transportation and loading costs which include trucking to a harbor on the Qiantang River, loading the goods into shipping containers which are stacked onto barges bound for the Shanghai seaport.
Riordan’s COO, Hugh McCauley, has envisioned a solution on how to minimize the cost of shipping which involves relocating this plant to Shanghai, China. The relocation will translate into great savings because of the advantage of using container shipping subsidiaries of the China Shipping Company, which utilize the seaport of Shanghai. Therefore, a plan has been made to complete this relocation process within the next five years. In light of this relocation strategy, the newly appointed CIO of Riordan, Maria Trinh, has come up with a list of important factors to be considered by the IT department during the entire relocation process. Those factors consist of setting up a migration committee, defining the scope of the migration process, and preparing a migration timeline.
Migration Committee Setup
Maria Trinh has selected several IT colleagues from Riordan’s US hubs who will travel with her to Hangzhou, China in order to finalize the make-up of
the migration committee. Those individuals are: Gary Tucker (Network Administrator), Carlos Gonzales (Development Engineer), and Gilbert Lofaro (Program/Analyst).
These key IT players will interview a pool of prospective candidates from the China plant in order to complete the committee. Dave Nanda has been put in charge of managing the project and will be the CIO’s liaison in China. As project manager, Dave is responsible for establishing a shared file storage area (electronic) for important files and setting up time reporting codes. In addition, Dave will plan the relocation and identify major milestones. Gary Tucker has been appointed as the IT lead; the identified migration coordinators are, Elizabeth Pyrek (Finance and Accounting Dept.), Joe Squires (Operations Dept.), Jose Guevara (Human Resources Dept.), Lonnie Godat (Transportation Dept.), and Lowell Bradford (Legal Counsel).
The committee will setup a meeting with all leads, managers, and architects to develop an order of magnitude (OOM), estimate high-level time requirements, and identify hardware and software needed. Each group will work to identify additional tasks necessary to their work effort. Once the committee has been setup, Maria Trinh will come back to Riordan’s Headquarters in San Jose, CA. where she will remotely manage the entire process. She may travel to China as conditions warrant.
Scope of the Migration Process
In determining the scope of the migration, it is necessary to prepare a performance matrix, set expectations, identify major stakeholders, assign them their specific responsibilities through statements of work, and delineate procedural documents. The scope consists of maintaining the current business operations (business continuity), establishing the relocation timeframe, allocating human, financial, legal, and transportation resources, and defining the required space of the new location.
In order to carry out this migration, the requirement definitions establish a timeframe of five years starting on March 23, 2007. The same definitions also define the following phases: devise the moving plan, create the migration committee and define its scope, get an approved cost migration budget (first ninety days), acquire a leased line (T1), and implement WAN linkage between the corporate headquarters and the China hub (subsequent two hundred seventy days).
Beginning the first and continuing until the third year, the following will be developed: communication logistics, surveying prospective locations in Shanghai, planning to run parallel Information Systems, planning for an IT staff recruiting process, ensuring business continuity, prioritizing the criticality of each department and Server, analyzing legal relocation issues and drafting a resolution plan, and setting the shipping logistics.
From the third through the fifth year, the following must be accomplished: assessment of the new location’s infrastructure (by March 2011), staff recruiting for the Shanghai location, resolution of most legal issues, ensuring business continuity, and selection of the pilot network workgroup which will be migrated first. On the fifth year, the Shanghai location must be secured, the headcount of relocating employees must be known, and the hiring of new staff must be accomplished (by September 2011), Again, business continuity must continue, migration of the IT function must be initiated and completed (by October 2011), and IT maintenance and staff training must be accomplished. (This effort will be facilitated by Mari Carrillo, a Development Specialist)
During the same period, information systems must be run in parallel (by January 2012) until the shutdown of the Hangzhou plant (by February 2012). In addition, the previously mentioned definitions include a contingency plan that encompasses the following:
Crashing non-critical tasks if delays threaten to derail the project
Adding qualified human resources as a last resort to avoid the project’s failure
Having qualified staff available to make substitutions if it becomes necessary
Having the company’s information systems backed up daily off site
Having a prospective hardware infrastructure readily available in the event that a catastrophe compels the company to restore their systems
When planning the relocation of the Hangzhou, China facility, it is important to consider that the existing departments will still require the IT department’s services in order to conduct business. In fact, the IT department is more likely to see an increase in the number of calls for support during the various phases of the relocation. The potential for increased call volume could result from one or more factors such as a question related to the move, connectivity issues due to the move, or even the perception that the move has caused a problem, when it is not even related to the move.
When considering the effects on the IT department’s workload, management must consider both direct and indirect causes that may increase the workload demands. Every department that will be relocating to the new facility will invariably require assistance from the IT department.
The needs may be minor or significant, but if not anticipated, these “distractions” detract from the goal (to relocate) and affect the budgeted labor required for the move. In order to provide the best possible continuity of service before, during, and after the move, it is necessary to evaluate each department’s needs and the relationships between each department to provide maximum support.
For the first year goals, the IT department will evaluate each supported department to determine the above factors in an effort to establish an estimated amount of labor required for each department. This survey will also help to establish the most logical path to pursue when transitioning each department to the new location. Timing is a critical element in the transition.
It may make more sense to move certain departments in phases, and other departments at one time or the “big bang” approach. For example, it may be wise to move the payroll/hr department all at once as you would want to have all the records at one location and available to that department. Since this area houses sensitive data, it would be wiser to move everything at the same time in order to more easily track and secure the data since it will be confined to one location.
A final factor to consider is the very real potential for a significant turnover rate across all departments due to the new site being a considerable distance from the existing site. This high turnover rate will result in less experienced employees; these employees usually require more assistance from the IT department than seasoned employees do. A physical move may agitate business, but a robust and smooth business continuity plan should allow the business to proceed as normal with minimal disruptions.
An analysis of all risks will need to be performed as well as plans to mitigate these risks should the circumstances arise. Before one can ensure a successful business continuity plan, a test must be run to work out any idiosyncrasies or items that may not have been considered.
An in-depth analysis identified several immediate risks. Since the majority of the current IT personnel will be relocating to Shanghai, a plan will be in place to account for the temporary IT personnel shortage. Approximately six weeks prior to the move, the remaining staff members, from the Hangzhou office, will be known. It is estimated that 1/3 of the current staff will remain. Once this number has been finalized, hiring will occur to backfill these positions. While approximately 2/3 of the staff will be preparing for the move, the remaining 1/3 will be conducting training for the new staff.
Another identified risk was equipment failure due to damage during shipping or because of improper reconfiguration. Members of the existing staff will rotate an on-call position for the first month. This will alleviate performance problems due to configuration. If the equipment failure is due to damaged hardware, two vendors will have been pre-determined to contact for service or replacement parts. To minimize issues with equipment delivery, several confirmations with the shipping company will be completed.
Portions of the hardware will be shipped separately. For example, the QA equipment will be shipped first, followed by the finance equipment, etc. Gradually moving components will allow each individualized system to stabilize itself. In order to safeguard data and information assets, two identical servers will be used.
One housed in the new location will be a mirror of the original. Once it can be determined that the databases and information can be used from the mirrored server, the original will be disconnected and subsequently destroyed. One way to ensure a successful business recovery plan is to test it. While in the current location, a dry run will be performed. Throughout the week, several staged, but undisclosed failures will occur which will allow the business recovery plan to be challenged. Problems such as an unavailable database, slow response time and faulty hardware will be orchestrated to mimic the anticipated response. Once this testing is complete, department coordinators will further document ways to combat the lessons learned.
When the time arrives to begin the physical move, some additional steps will be taken to ease the transition. First, the department coordinator will be migrated; the procedure changes, issues, resolutions, etc. will be documented. Second, migration activities and estimated time spent on each activity will be prepared so that users know what to expect before actual migration. Sufficient time will be allocated on each migrated employee’s calendar and expectations will be set.
The actual migration will happen in stages, three groups will be identified by the department co-coordinator based on system, application, or function criticality. Less critical groups will be moved first, followed by more critical, and thereafter by the most critical. Each employee’s backup will be identified. When an employee is moved, his backup would still be working from old location to cover for him. We will wait for at least two weeks of stable work from the employee at the new location before removing the backup employee. This will provide redundancy in case there are some issues at the new location; tasks can still be performed by the backup until those issues get resolved.
Arrangements will be made with the current shipping company to accommodate our new shipping logistics. If the current shipping company is unable to do so, a replacement shipping company will be used. Each department coordinator will be assigned the task of making sure all disaster recovery documents are up-to-date and existing business recovery measures are intact prior to the move. The test exercise will bring to light any inconsistencies in these documents. Enhancements will be integrated into the existing document.
The business continuity plan (BCP) is a living document which needs to be kept up-to-date to ensure its effectiveness. It should be updated at least once every quarter. Another important aspect of the BCP is auditing. It should be tested at least once every six months to ensure its validity. At anytime, there should only be one document with all of the changes and updates. “If the document is well constructed the organization should be able to use external resources that do not have intrinsic knowledge of your current network to recover your system. This can only be achieved once the BCP document has matured and it is recommended to attempt such a recovery” (Magalhaes, 2005).
The IT Department’s Role During the Move
The IT department must continue supporting all the departments, groups, and systems at same level as that provided prior to the move, including but not limited to the following:
Testing and Quality Assurance
Messaging or email
Asset management (hardware and software)
System Administrators, Network support
IT Planning, Training current and new staff as needed
Providing maintenance to the current and new IT infrastructure
Specific Milestones for Years One, Three and Five
There are 250 users at Hangzhou, China. As far as system hardware, most of the IT related systems become obsolete in five years. This is the very reason that most companies lease their hardware equipment. The assumption is being made that Riordan Manufacturing leases equipment and will have six months of parallel systems. Hence, for the duration of six months, Riordan can keep the old as well as the new systems.
The company will lease the system at the new location and retire the system at the old location. This approach will save moving costs and allow a six-month period to make sure the new system is stable before retiring the old system. Running the old and new systems in parallel facilitates a back-out plan in case we have to revert to the old system in a worst-case scenario. This also helps with system availability and business continuity planning as discussed in the beginning of the migration plan.
The project scope will be determined by identifying all the servers, personal computers (PCs), networking systems, and other infrastructure components that need to be moved. The hardware inventory of the items in Hangzhou is listed below:
Satellite base station, connection to HQ
T1 to outside network
PCs for Corp (12), Finance (8), MFG (8), MTLS(6), and QA (6)
IP phones (40)
8 HP laser printers
Windows Servers (2) – Network, Exchange
UNIX Server – ERP/ MRP
IBM Blade Servers (2)
UPS, Router, VOIP data router, Gateway/ switch, switches, hub
Riordan will also need a temporary communication channel such as a wide area network (WAN) between Hangzhou and Shanghai during the relocation period. The following are the specific milestones for years one, three and five of the migration plan.
An IT budget will be developed for the five year migration plan by engaging all department heads, their leads and architects so that an estimation of the required effort can be accomplished. The IT infrastructure group will be responsible to make sure server and network equipment transitions are as smooth as possible. Estimated hours from each department as well as from the infrastructure group will be used to determine the estimated costs in man-hours. The cost of moving the hardware, software, and other equipment will also be estimated. Total costs will be presented to management for approval so that work can be started.
In this phase, IT personnel will be recruited and hired, or transferred as needed. In Shanghai, the WAN connection to HQ will be implemented. In addition, a T1 to the outside network and a temporary WAN connection to Hangzhou will be established for duration of the migration effort.
Network equipment will be leased and a new WAN connection contract will be negotiated with a vendor. During this phase, risk logs and issue logs will be maintained and security concerns and issues will be evaluated. Also, a work breakdown structure will be developed to establish tasks which need to be accomplished to successfully complete the relocation.
Time lines to move, setup, test the equipment, and engage the stakeholders at appropriate time will be developed. The time line will be shared with management and discussed in monthly meetings; monthly meeting minutes including the summary of items completed, list of items targeted next, and any issues encountered will be provided. A six-month period will be used to make sure the new system is stable and the old system can be retired.
Migration of the “most” critical systems as well as miscellaneous and residual systems will occur during this phase. New IT personnel will also be recruited and hired during this time. Legal constraints will be resolved and business continuity will be ensured as discussed in the beginning of the migration plan. As discussed previously, a six-month time frame will be used to ensure the new system is stable in the new location and no one is using the old system.