Ask enterprise technology managers about how they’ve pulled off big, complex AV projects, and often the answer is that they knew when to call in AV integrators, designers, and consultants. That’s what Mediacom did for its new headquarters and LeFrak Property Management did at 111 Town Square Place.
Eli Hezi, essentialCom co-founder and partner, was the consultant for 111 Town Square Place. Here are Hezi’s suggestions for working more effectively with integrators and other AV pros.
1 Bring the integrator into the project as early as possible. That timing enables the integrator to work with you, the architect, the general contractor and others to head off expensive changes later on, such as five figures’ worth of solar shades because sunlight overwhelms the executive conference room’s telepresence displays.
“With LeFrak, we got involved and asked for feedback when they were still at the planning stage,” Hezi said. “That allowed us to make suggestions that enabled LeFrak to plan efficiently and to optimize costs—for example, structure, airflow, layout based on final design. We were fortunate to work with very professional team from LeFrak, which allowed a successful and timely execution.”
2 Don’t hold back. Integrators are like doctors: It’s tough for them to help if you don’t describe your pain points and needs. Holding back hurts only you.
“Each client is different,” Hezi said. “As an integrator, we need to make sure we fully understand and capture their objectives, priorities and, more importantly, their vision. In LeFrak’s case, I spent a lot of time on site to get a feel for the space and the design.
“Ultimately we want to make sure that their own clients benefit and enjoy the final product. The ultimate reward is getting compliments from our customer’s customers.”
If you have limited AV experience, don’t let that limit your interaction. Explain what you want to do in a particular space so the integrator can suggest the products that can enable those use cases while meeting your budget.
“As an integrator, we need to stay on top of all the latest technologies, products and solutions in our field,” Hezi said. “That give us the advantage to build the best solution taking into account the existing constraints.
“With LeFrak, we had size constraints and used the best display and mount to maximize use of the available space. We also had environmental challenges and researched extensively to find the optimal HD Live camera. Throughout this process, we keep in mind (1) budget constraints, (2) ease of operation, and (3) maintenance and upgrade.”
The integrator should explain the options in a way that you’re comfortable with.
“We usually give our clients three options, with pluses and minuses (good, better, and best) that are clearly explained in practical terms,” Hezi said. “Avoid too much technical jargon.
“In our presentations, we make the effort to present visuals, mockups and leverage our technical partners to present demo units. This allows our clients to really get a sense of the final product and set expectations.”
3 Avoid one-size-fits-all solutions. If a design or product doesn’t seem like the ideal fit for what you want to accomplish, say so. You’ll be the one who has to support it and hear from the people who struggle with it.
“When choosing an integrator, clients should be able to assess whether this integrator will be able to understand their vision—not trying to sell them off-the-shelf solutions but really tailoring to their needs,” Hezi said. “They should be able to get options from the integrator, in a format that can be presented to all levels in the organization from the C-suite level to the technical team.”
4 Don’t stop collaborating until the ribbon is cut. Even the best design might need to be tweaked as construction progresses. Maybe a change elsewhere, or from an allied trade on the job site, will affect AV. Designers, integrators, and other AV pros should remain available throughout the project to jump in as needed.
“During installation, we stay proactive and make sure we communicate effectively with all parties involved: architects, engineers, general contractor,” Hezi said. “This allows us to respond to changes and challenges quickly and efficiently.”