Of all the challenges that we and our audiovisual services clients confront, project completion may be the most frustrating. It often seems that too much is unfinished, even as the moving van is on its way. Why does this happen, and what can we — all of the project stakeholders — do to minimize it?
Late delivery is usually caused by two main factors:
1. Accumulated Construction Delays
Most audiovisual system installation work can only take place after 100% of room construction is complete. As an example, take a medium-sized conference room with a single display on a wall, an AV connection point in a tabletop box, and a set of audiovisual equipment in a credenza.
Until the wall has been painted, the display can’t be mounted on it; final painting happens late in construction. The AV connection box can’t go in the table until carpet is installed and the table arrives. Conference room tables are usually among the last items to arrive on site. So are credenzas, which for AV-equipped rooms are often ordered custom, and arrive close to move-in time.
Construction delay has the greatest impact on the trades finishing their work latest in construction. They’re sandwiched between the trade whose work must precede theirs, and Day One, the first day of business. Audiovisual contractors are often the latest of the latest.
2. Delayed or Uncompleted Computer Network Installation
Almost every audiovisual system depends on the facility computer network. AV systems use the network to relay commands between components, to alert support personnel about maintenance issues, and, increasingly, to channel audio and video from one location to another. Computer networks are as essential to audiovisual systems as electrical power is to lighting. Yet network availability is often unavailable, or unstable, until days or hours before Day One.
On the enterprise projects where TEECOM manages network implementation, we schedule installation of network components to facilitate on-time audiovisual system configuration. On all of our projects, we proactively communicate the necessity of functioning, stable computer network to PMs.
It’s hard to overemphasize the requirement of a stable network. On projects large and small, audiovisual contractors have had systems working within a few decimal points of 100%, only to have them fail completely because an IT systems administrator changed a configuration without consideration of the change’s impact on AV systems. How can these pitfalls be avoided?
1. Off-site Pre-installation
It’s safe to assume that miscellaneous construction delays will continue to compress the time available to AV contractors. But TEECOM’s got some tricks up our sleeves to reduce the time required for final AV installation while improving system quality. One option is to reduce the number of individual AV components installed on walls behind displays and beneath tabletops by using perforated mounting panels. Audiovisual contractors attach small system components to these, then wire and test them, all before bringing them to the site. The panels install behind displays and under tabletops, cleaning up what can otherwise be messy and time-consuming installations. The process of using the panels shifts labor that would otherwise have to take place on site — in the last minute — to shop work.
We have other techniques to shift site labor to shop labor, allowing it to be performed in parallel with other trades’ site work.
2. IT Project Management
There’s no product-based approach to ensure that computer networks are installed, tested, and available for audiovisual installations: IT project management is the best tool. Network implementation schedules have to be set and adhered to. Cutoff dates for network reconfiguration have to be set and enforced. All of this requires participation from owner-side IT managers at the highest level.
Use this list of “7 Signs Your Building Project Needs an IT Project Manager” to assess the value an IT PM might bring to your project.