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Installations – Design time

So you’ve got a budget and a list of things that you would like to do. Now comes the part of working out what is possible, achievable and realistic.

 

Where’s the recipe book?

Av and tech installs often look very easy and simple, it’s just a bunch of equipment put into racks with some cables, which it is!

The only thing missing here is the knowledge and expertise to select all the parts of the system to make it work. Unlike baking a cake, there is no recipe book for designing installs and each are different to meet varying needs.

I remember as a child my parents deciding to get my bedroom furniture specially fitted. Initially we had a lady come over and measure my room and then she sat down with us to ask what we wanted. Several weeks later we went to her showroom where she showed us full plans and designs. Eventually after a few alterations the carpenter descended on our home and fitted out my room. My parents could have easily gone to a furniture shop and bought some stuff that would do and work, but they wanted what would work best.

If we go back to baking a cake, there are always multiple recipes and versions of the same cake. What one person thinks works best won’t be the same for another. This is something important to remember as if you ask multiple firms for solutions and quotations you will find different solutions and approaches.

 

Stewardship

I was listening to the MXU podcast recently and they talked about the whole idea of stewardship. The title of the podcast is ‘How not to waste your church’s money’. The title sounds quite harsh but is very true. Having the latest and best gadgets and toys is great but we also have responsibility to make sure that what we get is wise. In a recent conversation with a church tech director we spoke about a new speaker system they had just installed. The church had been looking for a while and looked at several systems. The church eventually decided on a system and were able to get an ex demo system at a cheaper cost. Talking to the TD he said that the system has made massive improvements. Yes they could have gone for more expensive systems but went with one that fitted the bill for the majority of what they need.

The word stewardship comes from the Greek word oikenomous, which means somebody who manages a household. A person doesn’t own the household but manages it. In our case we don’t own the equipment instead the role is to make wise judgements.

A really big thing is not just spending the money because it will fit in the budget. You may find that you get quotes which are below what your budget is, that’s great. The temptation then is to start re looking at what you can add or upgrade. It maybe that your initial quotes were based on the basics you need, and so the lower costs allow you to add some of the ‘nice to haves’. There is nothing wrong with this. Its when the nice to haves become we need these. Spending just because it will squeeze in the budget is not stewardship.

 

Cheapest wins

Having worked as a technical sales consultant I have seen first-hand the notion of cheapest wins! It’s something that is really annoying and frustrating yet happens so often and we all do it. If we can buy something for 2p cheaper elsewhere we will do it. As the saying goes look after pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. This concept though is not actually a great idea. If we are just looking at the cost of the equipment and that’s all that matters, then feel free buy go with the cheapest quote. If instead you want the service and advice and support from a company, then this approach is not helpful. This was a topic also raised in the MXU podcast. Getting the best price will always be a key element when purchasing equipment. What also needs to be assessed is the proposal and service agreements from any potential supplier. How can the company supplying the equipment best support you now and later down the line?

 

Eggs in one basket

Many installations and equipment sales companies tend to offer a full 360 service, sound, lighting, video. When one company can offer a full approach, this can be really helpful for the end user. What you also find is that many of these companies tend to have a particular area of expertise. Depending on your circumstances it many prove easier to split ‘the eggs amongst the baskets’. A friend of mine several years ago had an install at his church. The company chosen offered a full 360 service yet their lack of knowledge on lighting meant that they were left with limited training and support with using the system they had purchases.  Choosing to work with more specialist providers will often bring different solutions and ideas. This approach can take more time and require more work in liaising between companies as to who does what, when, who’s supplying what, etc. Another key consideration is how systems work together. Depending on the level of expertise within your team it may be easier to use one provider/installer who can help with linking systems together much easier. I know from experience that when different companies don’t talk and there is not a joined up working approach, confusion about who is responsible for providing this and that can ensue.

I want to close this post by saying, DON’T RUSH. Don’t feel pressured to get it all done tomorrow. If you want your new install to be the best take time, get demos, visit other people who have the same equipment, make sure it works for your needs.

Take time to get the best advice and support. If a company wants to work with you, they will support your project even when it’s not a quick turnaround. As the saying goes, measure twice cut once!

 

 

Anthony Lear

Anthony lives in Sheffield with his wife Fiona and daughter Naomi. He works for Hawthorn within the event projects team as a Project technician focusing on Video. Anthony is the founder of Church Tech UK, an initiative designed to support, develop and equip those that work and volunteer within a technical capacity in UK Churches.

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