In today's business world, audiovisual (AV) technology has seamlessly integrated into nearly every industry. Retail, restaurants, hotels, fitness and wellness, automotive, and entertainment - AV technology plays a significant role in enhancing customers’ experience. However, behind the scenes of its successful implementation and use, there's a dedicated team of experts who plan, manage, and evaluate every stage of the technology's installation. This is where AV project management steps in, playing a crucial role in ensuring the success of audiovisual integration projects.
Before we dive into the processes of project management, it is arguably the most important part of a project lifecycle for Audio-Visual integrators and their clients. Developing innovative AV designs, displaying modern technologies, and keeping costs down for the client is important, but has zero value if the integrator cannot deliver on these promises and expectations. It is the not-so-exciting processes and due diligence behind the scenes that will make a successful project when implementing Audio, Visual, or any other technologies in the space. So, let us dive in.
WHAT IS AV PROJECT MANAGEMENT?
AV project management is a crucial aspect of any audiovisual project, as it helps ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and meets the required quality standards. Usually, it is part of another big project such as a new restaurant opening or store remodeling. Planning an AV tech installation presents significant challenges, often requiring the dedication of entire teams to oversee the process. These teams meticulously map out every detail of the technology's installation and usage, ensuring that it aligns with the goals and needs of the event.
AV projects consist of multiple disciplines and phases, but we narrowed it down to three that are extremely valuable for project success :
Planning: This phase involves setting goals, outlining tasks, developing team processes, and assigning responsibilities to team members. Within planning, the first steps are internal handoffs between Project Manager, Sales, Engineering, and others such as programmers, network engineers, content creators etc. This is when the PM asks questions, then asks more questions on drawings, plans, and most importantly the Scope of Work. If the Project manager doesn’t catch gaps in the scope, then that will move down the line to the lead tech, installers, and field engineers and that’s where problems can arise. A good integration company should welcome questions, comments, and pushback between mates to ensure these questions are not asked on the day of closeout.
Execution: During this phase, the team performs project-related work, troubleshoots any issues that arise, and works towards meeting the established goals. Communication, Communication, Communication! This part now includes the PMs internal team but also all trades and stakeholders on the project. A PM is like a quarterback. He or she must get all trades aligned effectively communicating what is needed prior to execution such as conduit placement, power, data, network settings, support structures on walls/ceilings, and everything in between. If communication doesn’t happen early and with detail, then this is when the project's budgets get impacted by change orders.
Review: After project completion, the team assesses the project's success and the team's performance, discussing lessons learned for future improvements. The assessment includes quality of service checks at the time of closeout, client feedback, as-built drawings, budget reviews, and how to improve. Any AV integration firm that does not ask for client feedback, installer feedback, PM feedback etc. Is doing a disservice to the client and company. There is no perfect AV firm, but a Project manager can adjust and pivot to get to the result with proper communication and feedback.
AV project management involves overseeing audiovisual projects in every phase from conception to completion, employing specific techniques, software, and best practices to ensure the project is delivered on schedule, within the allocated budget, and to the satisfaction of the client.
In Summary: An Audio-Visual company that has the right project management processes in place will succeed in implementing projects and long-term relationships with their clients. Processes, management software, communication, and attitude are key to a project's success. When looking for an AV company, design ideas and of course pricing play a pivotal role, but always consider project management as part of that decision-making process.