Av Project Management: The Complete Guide

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Audiovisual technology has become an integral part of our lives. It is present in nearly every building, business, and event. The layperson might give little thought to the presence of AV technology, but behind its successful implementation and use is a dedicated team that has carefully planned, managed, and evaluated every stage of that technology’s installation.

AV project management is no small task, and it’s full of challenges. Whether you’re planning a large installation for a new business or updating a small system in a conference room, understanding how to effectively manage your AV project can contribute to your overall success.

Av Project Management: The Complete Guide

What Is AV Project Management?

AV project management is often a key subset of another project, like launching a sporting venue, hosting a major event in your entertainment space, or even the grand opening of a new office building or educational facility.

Planning an AV tech installation is a significant challenge, and the job often becomes so large that businesses dedicate entire teams to overseeing the process. These teams map out every detail of the technology’s installation and use, ensuring that it can meet the goals and overall needs of the event. 

An AV project management team might consist of several individuals, including a project manager and team members, including clients and contractors. Those members all work together during all of the project’s stages. 

A typical project consists of three phases:

  • Planning: Set goals, outline the work to be accomplished, develop team processes, and assign tasks to team members
  • Execution: Perform project-related work, troubleshoot issues that occur, and meet goals
  • Review: Assess the project’s success and the team’s performance, and discuss lessons learned

Those phases and the work required for each will differ depending on your project scope and goals. While every project is unique, you can follow some essential steps that can contribute to its success.

Steps of Successful AV Project Management 

As you start to plan your AV project, you’ll quickly find that you’re working with multiple to-do lists. The following steps can help to guide your process and ensure that you’re well-organized and ready for the challenges that might arise.

1. Determine Your Project Team

One of the first steps toward managing an AV project is to determine and create a project team. Your team will need a project manager, but it will also need technical specialists. Depending on your project, stakeholders, clients, and possibly additional supervisors may also be integral team members.

At this stage, it’s also essential to determine the scope of work that the project will involve. The more details you have about the specific workload involved, the better you’ll be able to determine how many team members you’ll need to be able to carry that workload. It’s also helpful to identify any specific or unique skills that the project will require, and make sure that your team consists of members who have those skills.

It’s important to determine not only your key team members, but to also decide at what step in the project management process each member should be involved. Consider the roles that each person will hold and how they’ll work together. You may also want to start detailing the responsibilities of each team member.

2. Establish Clear Communication Strategies

Team communication can be a major barrier to effective AV project management. Many AV projects involve team members who are located in different departments, buildings, or even different states or time zones. When you’re working under tight deadlines, accurate and prompt communication becomes even more important in keeping your project moving forward. 

Outlining communication strategies at the beginning of the project can help avoid some communication delays and errors that are common project management issues. Consider getting your team involved and discussing communication tools that they’re already comfortable with. This is particularly valuable when you’re working with a client and you need to establish an open line of communication. Clarifying working hours, availability, and response time expectations can help your whole team to approach the project with a mutual understanding and unified approach. 

This may also be the time to consider using AV project management software. A quality software platform can help to facilitate internal team communication and even capture and record that communication for easy future reference.

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3. Determine Project Goals 

As you start to evaluate the work to be done, it’s also time to determine the goals for your project. You can break these goals down into what you want to accomplish during each stage of the project.

Don’t forget that your goals can also involve important elements like quality of work, timely communication, and other elements that will contribute to your project’s success. While it’s easy to focus on meeting specific milestones and viewing those as goals, also think about the goals that will help you to evaluate your team’s performance, too.

4. Create a Project Timeline

Your project timeline will guide your work through the implementation phase, and it really serves as the overall roadmap for your team. Start with a general list of everything you need to accomplish, and determine the deadline for the entire project’s completion. 

Next, work backward. Break down those larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.  Once you’ve created individual tasks, you can assign tasks to certain team members and add deadlines for their completion. 

When you’re determining deadlines, always leave yourself extra time. Back your deadlines up so that, when something inevitably goes wrong, you won’t immediately delay the result of your project. Be sure to consider which tasks are dependent on the completion of previous tasks, too. A delay in a previous task can trigger a chain reaction, delaying subsequent tasks and putting you past your deadline. Building in extra time and anticipating potential problems can help you to avoid this scenario. 

As you build your project timeline, you create a workflow that can guide the overall project’s progress. Plan on referring to this timeline frequently, but realize that you may also need to make adjustments as you progress through the project.

5. Develop a Detailed Budget – and Refer to It Often

Good, detailed budgeting is essential to a project’s success, and it can help you avoid getting into tight spots and facing difficult decisions later in the project’s stages. Careful research, accurate quoting, and rigorous attention to detail can help to ensure that your budget is appropriate. 

While establishing a detailed budget can help you plan an AV project, it’s equally important to frequently refer to that budget as the project evolves. There will almost inevitably be unexpected expenses, and it’s essential to balance your actual costs against your predictions. This is also a stage where client communication becomes even more important, especially if you discover that the project’s costs will exceed your initial predictions.

6. Create an Audio Visual Installation Checklist

The AV installation process is particularly prone to errors, so developing an installation checklist can contribute to your project’s success. 

Your installation checklist will need to detail the equipment and supplies needed, as well as policies and procedures that installation technicians should be trained in. This is the time to develop an installation plan that outlines the order of installation, as well as the locations.

The more detailed this checklist is, the smoother your installation process should be. This checklist can help to ensure that you don’t miss important steps, and it may help limit the troubleshooting you have to do after an installation.

7. Determine Appropriate Tests and Fixes 

Rigorous testing is one of the most important elements of AV project management. Investing plenty of time in thorough testing can help to identify issues that can be addressed before they affect the technology’s performance.

It’s essential to perform plenty of testing at appropriate stages during the project. You’ll need to identify those stages, as well as the types of testing that you can use to validate the technology’s performance. 

You may also want to develop a troubleshooting procedure or list of fixes to help the process go smoothly and quickly.

8. Use the Right AV Project Management Software 

Managing any AV project, whether it is a small residential retrofit or large-scale commercial new build, is a large task, and it requires rigorous attention to detail. It’s essential to track everything from task deadlines to budgets, and you also need to be able to easily review project progress and identify potential issues before they become larger problems. 

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Having the right project management software can make that easier. The right AV project management software can help you with everything from proposals to system design and development to enhancing team effectiveness. A quality software platform takes some of the work out of tracking essential details and manually checking in with your team members. It leaves you to focus on the tasks at hand and to address issues that truly require your attention and energy.

Av project management tools

Platinum Tools – Booth #C3445

Platinum Tools, a company which manufactures in America, says they anticipate two products receiving lots of attention at InfoComm 2018.

Platinum Tools will introduce High-Performance Hybrid (HPH) J-Hooks. These new J Hooks meet cULus Listed, Plenum Rated, TIA & RoHS Compliant standards needed for cable installs in the ISC markets and feature a polypropylene over mold. A Snap Lock Retainer secures cables without having to use cable or Velcro ties.

There are 4 sizes (1”, 2”, 3” and 4”) and 11 different hanging hardware accessories available.

Additionally, the company’s Net Chaser allows installers to quickly certify the Ethernet speed performance of cable runs.

“Installers asked for a tester that validates data cables by testing all the parameters they need to test beyond verifying proper terminations. The Net Chaser does just that,” says director of marketing Jason Chesla.

Solutions 360 – Booth #N2638

Their Q360 AV software includes accounting, project management, job costing, service & dispatch, inventory and sales services that streamline AV business operations.

From their website: “While all of our customers come to us with the vision of “one system to manage the whole business”, this means something slightly different to every customer and so it’s important for our product to be flexible, customizable but most importantly scalable.”

Midlite – (No booth, but company will be present, see contact)

Midlite is best known for their low voltage wall plate and cable management solutions. But the company says they’re heading in a new direction with their latest product line.

“We’re branching out into power relocation – our products allow for different projects to be done without an expensive electrical contractor, a low voltage installer can do this at their own pace without having to pay for third parties,” says marketing manager Kyle Just.

D-Tools – Booth #C3864

One of the most exciting parts of the year at D-Tools — a provider of AV business software — is their updates to flagship program System Integrator.

The latest iteration of the AV software now features the ability to create/manage multiple change orders simultaneously; a new approval process for change order acceptance; the inclusion of Use Tax; integration with product catalogs and daily pricing updates from PSA/USAV and other buying groups; and much more.

BidMagic – Booth #C3745

This provider of proposal AV software advertises that their product can help you create “a $100,000 professional proposal in just 10 minutes.” That’s a pretty impressive claim, especially for a part of the integration process that usually takes much longer.

More from their website:

“BidMagic combines the top features you need into the ultimate business platform for installing dealers. It can be installed on your PC, server or choose zero installation cloud hosting for easy access from anywhere. Proposals connect to accounting, inventory, project management, service call scheduling, Gantt chart job tracking, mobile time clocks and more.”

FSR – Booth #C2128

The maker of a wide variety of infrastructure solution products for the audio/video, education, corporate, hospitality, and government markets says it will unveil HuddleVU Collaboration Bundles at InfoComm 2018.

The solutions come in five different pre-packaged systems that accommodate from 2 to 4 users. Each bundle includes a table box, a switcher and all the necessary cables.

Systems can also include FSR’s HuddleVU Air, a wireless 4-input auto-switching presentation unit featuring 2 HDMI in, 1 VGA in, and one wireless input.

Av project phases

1. Enthusiasm

 – Within the “end user’s” organization, the AV project officially starts with budget approval from administrative management that is probably too busy to actually fully digest the impact of the systems.  Likewise, this approval only comes after significant effort (often through a series of unsuccessful altered pleas) to demonstrate said need, has been expended by the internal AV staff.  So, in actuality, once “officially” launched the project has been on the AV technology management staff’s radar for some time.  It’s fair to say “enthusiasm” is a fitting descriptor of the release of pent up sentiment surrounding the importance of funding the new AV.  This is, however, quickly tempered by…

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2. Disillusionment 

Which actually comes in not one merciful dose (in equal, but negative, proportion to phase one) but as seemingly relentless waves of general unconstructiveness.  While perhaps starting with fairly mild glitches typified by say pesky unrealistic requests (more like directives) to add technically unrelated scope, the complexity of disillusionment continues to increase.   The damaging effects of which seem to inevitably culminate in a ninth-hour reduction to the total funding at about the same time higher-than-expected bids are returned.

3. Panic 

Levity aside, this is truly the critical phase.  While panic is a perfectly understandable emotional response to the situation at hand, the successful technology manager must evaluate all given circumstances and realistically reposition the AV project within those constraints.  With a revised scope in hand, a methodical (if not hastily applied) approach must ensure all aspects, starting first and foremost with what the real end users needs are, are in alignment with what is about to get installed.   And, in reward for this proactive hard work, one might still have a viable project and still be in a position of moderate influence to receive the benefits associated with the next phase.


4. Search for the Guilty 

As we all know, if the AV project is done right, it almost always must include facility updates, or perhaps better yet, (re)building the room from the ground up.  And in the spirit of being careful what you ask for, one then finds themselves a Construction Project Underling, where the AV will assuredly be the last thing on that “team’s” collective mind.  So, combined with your best efforts to resolve your “own” issues simmering from the previous phase, you’ll now be entrenched in a Search for the Guilty exercise of combating disinformation being distributed to folks with hammers and screwdrivers while trying to keep from having your own AV experts from being kicked off the site.


5. Punishment of the Innocent 

On the face of, this phase may also sound a bit pessimistic, but again, it is a chance for the technology manager to shine (sort of).   Key to the success of which (as well as the project in toll) is the ability to artfully fall on ones own sword.  Also known to be helpful skills are: eating crow, having/using get out of jail free cards, or pretty much anything else that is not known to be illegal.  So, across several fronts, the AV as planned is compromised, the technology has changed, user input changed, construction techniques are inadequate, contractors are spitting change orders, etc., etc., while the well positioned technology manager takes it on the chin.  Finally, after playing lots of monkey in the middle, it’s time for a successful conclusion.



6. Praise and Honors for the Non-Participants 

  Even though the project team was long since worn out through dogged pursuit of nagging problems championed by the technology manager (the bones of the few still remaining), a last minute push to avoid ribbon cutting hiccups is also completed!  Campus stakeholders (which are almost never the same individuals who provided the original “needs” input), the somewhat disinterested folks controlling the funds, the agitated facilities manager and the wonderful AV supplier (they may be reading this also, and I need to restock some get out jail free cards) and yes, the technology manager, assemble for the kick off.  As the technology manager’s boss’s boss fumbles with the microphone to publicly thank the faculty stakeholders (with honorable mention for tech manager’s boss) you gladly take a pass on recognition, enthusiastic about applying lessons learned to the next project you’re already privately scheming.

Conclusion

Audiovisual is electronic media possessing both a sound and a visual component, such as slide-tape presentations, films, television programs, corporate conferencing, church services, and live theater productions. AV, an abbreviation for audio/video, is frequently used as a generic term for the audio and video components and capabilities in home entertainment system …

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