While many houses of worship (HoW) have invested in AV technology to enhance conventional worship experiences, they have been less likely to do so for more traditional worship styles. That assumption is changing as the COVID pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote services across the entire market. While this presents an opportunity for integrators, there is a learning curve for those unaccustomed to working in this unique space.
For one, when designing a HoW system, integrators can expect extensive community feedback on the system’s quality. To ensure a high-quality solution, they should rely on products that deliver performance suitable to the application, from a reliable manufacturer with strong technical support. Similarly, there will be an expectation for long-lasting components. Products used should not only offer a good warranty, but the system should integrate seamlessly with newer products for long-term expandability.
Of course, with all funding for HoWs coming from donors, budgets will be a concern in any worship installation. Making the most of a limited budget means selecting products that deliver true value. Integrators must help HoW leaders understand that a low price tag shouldn’t be the determining factor in a purchase. A good selection will balance price, features, and quality to provide a better overall experience for worship leaders, the technical team, and the community. In addition, they should keep ease of use in mind, as the system will often be operated by a revolving door of nontechnical volunteers.
Other considerations for those new to the HoW market include communication. There is a unique vernacular and jargon used in worship settings, and integrators can eliminate misunderstandings—and better identify their customers’ needs—by learning it. They also need to be aware of issues that can arise from working in a financially limited staffing structure, where there aren’t enough staff members to handle all the work and many are volunteers. This arrangement can lead to a lack of communication between work areas, reactive problem-solving instead of proactive, and facility coordination missteps. All of these potential challenges can negatively impact an installation if the project plan hasn’t taken them into account.
Finally, project timelines can also present a challenge, as a reactive approach to problems can mean last-minute attempts to solve them. For example, when a religious holiday is coming up, it’s not unusual for HoW leadership to overextend their worship teams by trying to get their new AV system up and running in time for the big day. Integrators should be proactive and advise their customers about reasonable timelines for installation, training, and practice.
While HoW installations have some similarities with those in other market segments, they also come with their own challenges. For the uninitiated integrator, keeping the best practices discussed here in mind will limit project hiccups and help them deliver the perfect solution for their HoW customers.
Ed Qualls is CEO and founder of Just Add Power. A pioneer in video over IP, he is dedicated to doing AV a little bit differently.
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