Installations – techs in a toy shop

In Advice, Installation
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Facebook is great! Facebook is terrible!
If you’re wondering why I just started this blog post with two differing views, it’s because they are both true.
I run, follow, and am a member of many Facebook church tech groups. A thread that pops up quite often is about installations and buying new equipment.

If any of you are like me, then being able to buy new equipment is like going to a toy shop as a child. Children love going to the toy shop -looking at all the toys and choosing the one they want. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tech toy shop and I don’t mean Maplins…

So the church you attend/work at/serve at has asked you to oversee/lead on a new install, upgrade, refresh etc.
For many this excitement can be dangerous; we might start looking at all the cool things we could possibly get and make a wish list on sites like Amazon and Thomann. See when we are given the task to lead on that project and spend money, we are entrusted with responsibility to make wise and sound judgements.
Over the course of several posts I want to delve into going from “let’s buy some new kit” to having it installed and finally those first few Sundays.

Why team?
I personally believe in team working and feel that this is a great place to start. A team can have both short and long term members; the key here is to not just choose a team of techs, rather to gather a few different people, of different ages, backgrounds and knowledge.
The first part of any install is to make sure you know the “why” and “what”. The “why” is about defining the reason you are starting the project. It might be that the Church is having a refit, or the system is failing due to its age or you’re moving into a new building. Having a solid reason enables stronger justification when people question the need for the new equipment and the associated costs.

The initial “what” is looking at what you want to do and achieve. Sometimes this step can get missed and the “what” can simply become “what equipment do we want to get?”. When we start the process by looking at equipment we can get blind sided by what we want, rather than what we are trying to achieve.
The “what” process should really be about the following questions:
What do we have now?
What do we use it for now?
What would we like to do that we can’t do now?
What would we like to do initially?
What would we like to do in the future?
What is the skill base and level of your current tech team?

These questions help us to start forming a document that will enable us to make sure we get the right solution and equipment. Whether you decide to do a self install or contract a company, this document will allow you to discuss much more easily and clearly your needs and requirements.

Facebook is great and terrible!
So I bring you back to the start and my opening statements. As mentioned, I am part of many church tech Facebook groups. Often people will post about their installs or new installs they are looking for and will ask for advice and help. Now there is nothing wrong with asking for help and advice but when you start a thread and even post a picture of your worship setting with the comment “looking to get a new PA system, here are the room sizes, our congregation, our budget” etc. and then ask what people would recommend, Facebook can become both really great and terrible.
This is often largely due to too many people commenting with too many views and opinions based simply on the limited information supplied. Another thing which you may find is an abundance of messages offering help and support.
If you do decide to ask for help and support on Facebook, at whatever stage, you need to weigh up any advice and support carefully.

Anthony Lear

Anthony lives in Sheffield with his wife Fiona and there 2 daughters. He works for AVMI within as a Event technician. 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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