Knowing how to plan for an AV project means understanding your AV system needs at an organizational level, connecting with end users, and finding the right technologies. Naturally, audiovisual planning also involves identifying resources, incorporating important stakeholders, and choosing the right partners to help your vision come to life. Audiovisual systems design and integration can be a complicated process, but getting to a seamless end result is crucial for improving productivity and collaboration. This blog outlines some of the most important considerations when planning your next AV project.
Successful Audiovisual Planning Begins with a Well Defined Need
Successful AV projects start with a well defined need, or set of needs. If your project begins with a loosely defined need like “install some big screens in the lobby,” you may be headed for project failure. As the saying goes, “Begin with the end in mind.” Properly preparing for an AV project involves developing a plan that drives all efforts to satisfying the well defined need.
One example of a clearly defined project need could be:
“Provide a user focused solution to simplify presentations, collaboration efforts and room scheduling building-wide. Create a standardized experience across physical locations from disparate office locations to connected conference rooms and huddle spaces for collaboration. Produce an inspiring brand experience in lobby spaces through use of advanced technology.”
After defining the needs, some important questions to address may include:
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- Who are the stakeholders and decision makers involved?
- What needs to be delivered as part of the project?
- What internal and external resources are required for the project?
- What learnings can be applied from previous projects?
Involve the Primary User Group in the Audiovisual Planning Phase
Adding functionality at the end of an audiovisual project is a costly expense for all parties involved. Involving the people who will run, maintain, and use the systems (the “primary user group”) at the outset of AV system planning helps to ensure a positive impact for the project. A clear definition of needs from the primary user group aligns your audiovisual planning with end-user operational processes and day-to-day goals. A system that does not support the end users can quickly become just another piece of unused hardware and give the perception of a failed project or wasted expenses.
Talk to Qualified Experts During When Planning Your AV Project
Conversations with qualified AV experts, such as integrators, designers, or hardware manufacturers, are usually free. Having a strong technology partner, outside of your organization, is a very valuable resource for audiovisual planning. A strong AV integrator or manufacturer has the experience, knows the pitfalls, and can provide valuable insight, advice and resources to help you plan properly. In fact, you may want to discuss your project with an AV design-build expert at the beginning of your process.
Unlike IT, AV systems integration doesn’t have the same standardization rules and is therefore usually highly customized. This means that AV integrators must use their knowledge and experience to guide the project’s planning to ensure various components are designed to “play well” with one another. Working with a qualified audiovisual systems integrator can help you to figure out the level of involvement you will need from qualified experts.
Consider Infrastructure During Audiovisual Planning
AV systems planning, design and execution blurs the line between construction and technology. Planning for the AV system infrastructure such as conduit pathways, electrical, cooling and physical layer requirements are equally as important as planning for the type of technology to deploy. Consideration of physical infrastructure is especially important if you are deploying an AV system into an existing building, where the infrastructure is already in place and you have to work around existing conditions.
For example, you’ll need to consider, whether your project will have an IDF (intermediate distribution frame) room where the AV equipment is to be housed, or is each system physically local to each room? Perhaps a combination of both?
In addition to infrastructure requirements, there are likely to be network requirements, both physical and virtual. For example, If you are deploying a video conferencing system, you will need IP addresses ahead of time in order to set up the systems. If the equipment will sit on the owner’s network, then entire blocks of IP’s and VLAN’s may be necessary. These IP addresses should be set on the equipment during in-house testing and need to be coordinated ahead of time, during the audiovisual planning phase.
Common AV Planning Pitfalls to Avoid
- Make sure you involve the correct stakeholders, including the primary user group(s) from the beginning! Important stakeholders who change the project scope late in the process can cause increased complication, which adds to project cost.
- A common misconception exists that the furniture vendors are the last vendors to be in the building. In fact, most times the furniture must be in place before the AV integration can begin the final installation, because many endpoints route through, or end at, a piece of furniture such as a conference table.
- AV integration projects bridge the world of construction and technology. Plan for physical layer requirement along with technology requirements.
- A common audiovisual planning pitfall is skipping the network conversation. Oftentimes, AV systems commissioning cannot be completed until the owner’s IT infrastructure, network testing/verification and IP assignments are complete.
What Does Evolved Audiovisual Do for a Business?
- Maximizes employee efficiency by making it easier for users to interact more effectively, and streamline ability to collaborate with each other.
- Facilitates a culture of productivity by simplifying user workflow.
- Allows the company leadership to clearly communicate a message to the entire organization.
- Allows for an immersive user experience.