Staging AV systems

Thinking about testing AV systems….

Staging systems is a crucial process for all providing AV systems. All devices are tested and proven to be functioning well before shipping to the site! The control system is sorted out at the shop. All firmware and communication conflicts are addressed. Network devices are pre-configured with their actual IP information, so they can be plug and play when they are delivered. Staging certifies that the system is ready to be installed. All the bugs are flushed out so that, if anything arises during the installation, the issues are mostly reduced to field cabling problems, because everything else has been thoroughly tested. It makes the installation go like a hot knife through butter.

So, why doesn’t everyone do it?

The major reasons are as follows:

1. No buy in from management. Quality has to come from the top down to be truly effective. And, if the boss continually pushes for systems to be delivered without having been totally staged, it sends a clear message to the entire company where the priorities of the organization lie (sizzle > steak).

2. No holistic vision of the project. It is very easy for companies, especially large ones, to adopt a “not my monkeys, not my circus” attitude between departments. A shop manager might be inclined to ship a system before it has been staged, just to pass the buck, despite the fact that doing so will jam up the installation team. It might be great for the shop schedule, but the installation schedule is destroyed, the project schedule sees delays and the service team might be tasked with finishing the installation…again. If people are focused only on their piece of the puzzle, rather than the big picture, it is very easy for them to ignore the value of quality.

3. Lack of education or experience. If people don’t understand the purpose and/or value of staging, they are less likely to do it. If the people building the racks never had an AV Installation Nightmare (check them out on “The Facebook”), they are less likely to do it. Whenever staging is taught in an AQAV class, participants—designers, installers and technology managers alike—are constantly saying things like, “This would have saved me a week in the field…if I knew about this.

4. Lack of discipline. If a single person isn’t responsible for the staging, and the company just expects “the team” to get it done, it very rarely happens. The responsibility of staging must be designated to one person on the team, and it must become a habit of the organization. It takes discipline, but, once the process is ingrained in the entire team, projects begin to go smoothly. As Jocko Willink says, “Discipline Equals Freedom”—freedom from stress, worry, having to remember every little thing…oh…and losing profits.

Applying cute, little project-management tools and tricks won’t produce the results that adopting the AV-9000 approach can. Your team has to live, breathe and be quality. It’s gains o’clock, my AV peeps. Let’s gooooooo!