Last Man Standing

So here is an all-too-familiar scenario: the AV team is the last to arrive onsite and everybody is screaming they are “late.” We have all been here before, and we will all be there again. I’m hoping this blog becomes the preeminent “I’m telling you so,” which you can hand your client early in the project to explain to them what will inevitably occur if they do not heed the words of wisdom contained within:

Dear Overall Project Manager and Our Client,

We are a qualified AV firm that has been selected for this project. Through whatever interviews, bids process, or other, you have selected our firm based upon our reputation, depth of knowledge, and ability to complete this project on time and within budget. That is our goal, and we want to make sure we get you and us to that point and at the end of the project, everybody is happy.

However, there is an ugly reality that could unfortunately leave us flapping in the wind and taking the brunt of the responsibility to complete our work in less-than-acceptable jobsite conditions and an unrealistic schedule. This is well known throughout the AV industry as “the AV crunch.” If we do not avoid “the AV crunch,” at the end of the project, you will likely be unhappy with us.

So for the good of your project, please let us voice our concerns, and we ask your assistance in ensuring your owners representative, architect, engineers, general contractor, electrical contractor, and your internal IT department all understand what is required to properly install AV systems and the potential risks involved with project delays.

If we all work together on these items early in the project, we can avoid the disaster of missing the project completion deadline.

1. Please ensure our contract and PO are executed promptly. We cannot mobilize our team and commit resources until our contract is in place.

2. Please process our initial payment/mobilization fee quickly. We require an initial down payment so we can begin ordering equipment.

3. Ensure our submissions are promptly reviewed and returned to us. This will keep our project workflow moving. Please also see any of our RFIs are answered quickly.

4. Please see that the project construction schedule includes the following AV milestones:

AV Rough-in/Cabling
This is when AV conduit and cabling are installed, as well as projections screens, ceiling speakers, video projector mounts, flat panel mounts, camera brackets etc.

AV Staging
This is when the AV systems will be fully assembled and tested at our shop. This is also an opportunity for you are anyone from the project team to see and test the “staged” systems before they are delivered to the jobsite.

This is one of the most important AV milestones, and it identifies the jobsite conditions required before the AV equipment arrives on the jobsite. Please note, you REALLY do not want us delivering your very expensive AV equipment into a hard construction environment. “AV room ready” implies that the majority of construction is complete and the facilities are ready to receive the AV equipment. In basic construction terms this means:

- Ceilings are closed

- All electrical work is complete
- All data cabling is complete
- Walls are up, spackled and painted (or wall coverings are installed)
- Carpet is down
- Furniture is installed (including table hatches)
- All dust has settled
- The facility is safe and secure
- The IT services, the LAN, VOIP etc. are live

AV Systems Delivery
As stated, this is the process of us delivering the AV systems to the site. We will need building passes, access to loading docks, freight elevators, and a place to store our equipment and tools during the installation period.

AV Installation
This is the time frame in the project schedule where we physically install our equipment cabinets, video projectors, flat-panels etc. A typical single-room, moderately complex AV system will require 10 days to install.

AV Testing
One of the most important phases of our project: testing. We need to test the system, end-to-end: all audio, conferencing, video projection/display and control functionality. A typical single-room, moderately complex AV system will require four days to properly test.

Consultant Commissioning
After AV testing is complete, we need to schedule the AV consultant for commissioning of the AV system. The AV consultant will review all equipment has been provided, ensure everything has been installed as per specifications, and conduct detailed functionality tests. A typical single-room, moderately complex AV system will require one day to properly commission. At the completion of the commissioning a punch list will be issued for any open items requiring attention.

Punch List Remedy
Once the punch list is received, we will need access to the room(s) to remedy any punch list items. Depending on the length of the punch list, we will probably require a day of work.

User Training
Once the system is 100 percent up and running, we are ready to conduct end-user training for anyone on the client side that will be utilizing the facility, or their support staff.

Your AV Firm

It’s important for your client to understand that project delays need to extend the timetable for AV completion. Yes, even if that means AV completion post move-in.

A note to consultants: The success of this project is as important for you as it is for us. We are just the contractor, and many times, our voice is not heard at the level needed. If you are a consultant that lives up to proper construction administration services, please voice your concerns at the project meetings and get us whatever is needed for our timely completion.

  • This is Project Management 101; we need to have enough time built into the schedule to allow for slippage by trades. We can’t simply compress the AV schedule to make up the time. Do yourself a favor and communicate these requirements to your clients.

ABOUT CHRISTOPHER MAIONE, CTS-D, DSCE, DMC-D: Christopher Maione is a recognized leader and expert in the AV industry with over 28 years of audiovisual design and project management expertise. He has managed literally thousands of AV projects from some of the most elaborate boardrooms in the world to entire skyscrapers of complex AV facilities throughout. Christopher focuses his business on being part of the project team and representing the owner/end-user on large-scale AV/technology projects. As a mentor, he encourages colleagues to strive for excellence and consistently challenges the AV industry to improve its practices, and grow its services in an effort to set a higher standard and respond to the changing needs of clients. Well versed in all aspects of AV, IT, and acoustics, Maione is an Adjunct InfoComm Faculty Member and an accredited CTS RU provider and serves on a variety of key industry standard committees. In doing so, he continues to set industry benchmarks for quality.

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