For a service provider, the one thing that stands in the way of getting sign-off and final payment is the punchlist. But for an integrator, taking the time to create a strong punchlist can mean the difference between a happy customer and the beginning of a long, expensive headache.
For the uninitiated, a punchlist is a record of outstanding items that vary from tasks yet to be completed, to work that needs to be corrected, to changes that are requested. A punchlist organizes open items, helps consolidate efforts and gain efficiency, and provides a defined road to satisfying project requirements. It shows that you're organized, professional, and keen to protect your customer — and your reputation.
So how can you be a good steward with a solid punchlist for your AV projects? Let's run down the top five ways that a great punchlist can save you time and money.
1. A good punchlist for AV systems is comprehensive and specific.
Your list should be clear and narrowed down as specifically as possible. Instead of, “The projector is not working,” go a little deeper with the why or even suggest potential remedies. “The projector is not displaying an image” is more descriptive, but “The projector is not displaying an image because the HDMI cable between the projector and switcher is bad and needs to be replaced” is specific and focused on a resolution.
2. Understand the system and be a good troubleshooter.
Good punchlists can be hard to come by in typical AV systems because creating one requires a complete understanding of the system, including the agreed-upon expectations and everything that is required to satisfy requirements. Proper testing and thorough inspection can identify specific items that need to be addressed rather than broad-stroke items that are vague and difficult to pinpoint.
3. Delegate and hold people responsible.
A punchlist may be a compilation of open items that apply to various members of a project team or even different trades involved in the project, depending on the perspective and level of detail. An effective punchlist should be narrowed down to the assignment of responsibilities. When a project manager or project engineer can assign tasks, they can hold specific parties accountable, establish due dates and provide the client with an expectation for resolving open items and completing of the project.
4. Bolster your CYA insurance policy.
Keep a record of what requests have been made and accommodated, where there may be scope concerns, and which change orders are pending. Working without a good punchlist is like driving without a good navigation system. You may get to your destination, but you won’t be able avoid obstacles and likely won’t take the most efficient route, which can cost you time, money, and frustration.
5. Get started today.
Establish a spreadsheet or checklist template that includes columns for the date, description, responsible parties, notes for status updates, and due date for every item. Creating this list near the beginning of the project and publishing it in a centralized location like OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Docs is a good starting point for gaining the organization and efficiency needed to be more successful.
Steve Greenblatt is founder and president of Control Concepts.