The AV Project Process: Two Methods by Christopher Maione

In the AV industry, there two are clear methods and processes for approaching AV projects. There are key players, important roles to fill, and core responsibilities to carry out to ensure a project’s ultimate success.

  • Now, I don’t know if it’s the economy or changing times, but it seems lately that a lot of people are forgetting this and blurring the lines of their primary roles and responsibilities by jumping into other people’s businesses. To help all of us remember who we are, I would like to revisit the lay of the land to explain who does what, who should be doing what, and what each firm’s role and responsibilities are.

To start, let’s consider the two basic method structures of typical AV projects: Consultant-Led or Systems Integrator-Led.
The factors which help determine which method is appropriate include:

- AV system scope, magnitude and budget

- New construction or existing facility

- Project schedule

Now let’s review each in more detail:

Consultant-Led (Design-Bid-Build)AV consultants are the firms which provide independent audiovisual design services. Their end product is a set of (hopefully) clearly defined drawings and specifications. Their role is very clear and (for the most part) respected throughout the industry.
In the consultant led bid, the AV bid package is sent out (usually thru the construction manager) to qualified AV system integrators that the consultants’ feel can best handle the work.

Once the bids are reviewed, the project is awarded and the design process begins. Throughout the design process, the AV consultant typically "reports to" the project architect, as does all the other design team firms including:

- M / E / P Consultants

- Code Consultant

- Telecom Consultant

- Lighting Consultant

- AV Consultant

- Security Consultant

- Furniture Consultant

- Food Services Consultant

Again, each of these design teams has specific roles and responsibilities to carry out. When all parties are focused on their own areas of expertise, the project runs smoothly as each trade acts out their part and executes their work.

The AV systems integrator will typically develop a proposal for the sale of the AV equipment and will include other aspects of the systems integration including engineering, fabrication, installation, testing and commissioning of the AV systems.

So there you have it. The two project methods that are the most common and represent the majority of AV work in today’s market.
Now here is where the roles and lines to get blurred.

Any AV Systems Integrator or Design / Build firm reporting to be the "consultant" and then bids on their own design is NOT an AV consultant. I view this process as unethical and if nothing else, just plain wrong.

By all industry definitions the AV consultant must be impartial, independent and not represent or sell any AV equipment. Doing so compromises a consultant’s impartial perspective. This is where AV Systems Integrators need to pick what side of the bread they want buttered.

Christopher Maione is president of Christopher Maione Associates. Reach him at cmaione@chrismaione.com.