What You Need to Know Before Starting a Major AV Project
The process of purchasing an AV system is complex and requires a lot or preparation, planning and communication to achieve a reliable AV system that meets the needs of your center. Typically, these systems require multiple levels of expertise ranging from software programming for LMS, hardware installers and hardware integrators who are responsible for coding and programming hardware to work with the LMS/AV system. Not having the basic understanding, knowledge and vernacular can be a barrier between sim center needs and AV companies.
There are many options for contracting AV installation/service providers with the most common being:
- LMS/AV/Integrator company – responsible for all aspects of the AV install and software solutions
- LMS/AV company + hardware integrators,
- External AV engineers + LMS/AV company + integrator.
Regardless of what model, below is a set of basic questions and/or requirements that are advantageous to those embarking on a major AV project.
- While many may visit other simulation centers to research and view AV systems, remember, educational requirements will differ from site to site. Make sure you know what your needs are before you get distracted by fancy features that aren’t necessarily going to benefit your program.
- In a new construction build, it is imperative to involve all parties from the beginning.
- Who is the on the contractor’s team? Do they have experience in the simulation arena and if so, what sim centers? What is their overall reputation? Follow up with these facilities and ask questions. What is good/bad?
- If budget allows, hire a consultant who is NOT affiliated with either party. He or she should be an expert in the area and able to translate sim center needs to AV company.
- Will name brand or generic hardware be used?
- What are the policies around repairing software and or hardware in case of failure? Is it acceptable to the sim center if repairs are not made immediately especially if assessment is underway.
- How soon can hardware support be at your location in the event of major failure?
- How is the maintenance agreement calculated?
- In the event hardware becomes obsolete and not compatible with software, will the maintenance agreement cover replacement?
- Make sure substantial completion deadlines are met. Stipulate the consequences of non-completion in the contract.
- The last 5 – 10% of any job is difficult to complete. Many times fingers will be pointed and excuses made. Verify, verify, and verify…roles and responsibilities.
Fellow simulationists, do not rush the process as you will be utilizing the system for many years. You will have unique insights into the technology in your center - this is the time to assert yourself and insist your ideas are considered. The more involved you are throughout the process the better you’ll understand the systems you will be working with.