AV design integrator

Finding Your Just Right, part 3
This month, we continue to explore the advantages and disadvantages of the methods of AV design, specifically Design/Build. And, as in Goldilock’s and The Three Bears fairytale fashion, we need to find our happy ending. But, does it exist? Let’s take a look…

The Upside of Design/Build
To create the perfect outcome in the Design/Build scenario, the design and installation of the AV system is handled by an AV integrator. Having one company manage the entire project from start to finish, shortens the project/installation timeline (compared to Consult-to-Bid), and streamlines the communication process between the client and contractor. It can look like the ideal option and also reduce costs to the end user by:

  • Eliminating fees for a separate consultant for AV design or installation.
  • A brand preference can more easily be accommodated for the buyer.
  • Internal staff is not needed for maintenance or troubleshooting. You can go back to the integrator for those needs.
  • Reducing costs associated with project timelines. (Studies show that a Design/Build project is 33% faster than the bid process — and time is money.)
  • And lastly, the system can truly be as custom as the buyer wishes.

The Downside of Design/Build
To begin with, you need to engage an integrator to create the bid specs for your project. You then create the perfect plan on paper with the help of your integrator/design-builder visionary. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have the ideal, custom AV system in-house, up and running in no time. However, as in most fairytales, there’s got to be some drama.

First off, specifically in public sector, there is often a requirement to send the project out for bids. If you ask your integrator to provide a bid, will they request compensation for the time spent designing? And will your integrator, who created the design for your AV system, be the person who actually builds it? (Be sure to check in next month when we will be discussing Consult-to-Bid.)

Unlike the Build it Yourself DIY set-up in our previous blog, the integrator you’ve engaged also needs to think about their own bottom line (as well as yours). Will this person spec in less expensive components in an effort to meet a bid requirement or to add margin into the build? Or, will they choose the components based on a spiff they receive that week? What if they magically disappear once your system has been delivered? Where does that leave you and your AV system?

Furthermore, your new AV system hasn’t been tested in its setting for component compatibility and reliability. Remember, in this scenario you can’t see or try your AV solution before you buy it. The previously unseen, one-of-a-kind configuration may be unpredictable when finished. As a result, once you get it in place it may not work at all or may perform well one day, but not the next. Will it meet the vision and expectations that were planned and discussed with your integrator? Additionally, your individual contractor or integrator may not be as capable as the next, or provide the best possible service.

If it doesn’t work, who pays for the extra on-site service time and materials needed to get it up and running? Is a warranty factored into the bid or quote you got for the system? And, in the future will it be compatible with forthcoming upgrades? Only time will tell…

As you use your AV system, the end result may not be at all what you had envisioned, which is as disappointing as a bowl full of cold porridge. (Nobody likes porridge, right? 6 Reasons Porridge is the Ultimate Breakfast.) You’re left with a bad taste in your mouth and an AV system that doesn’t measure up to your vision. There’s no breadcrumb trail to take you back to the beginning (oops – wrong fairytale. We’ll save that Hansel and Gretel story for another time).

The Other Side of Design/Build
The Design/Build route may be a consideration for your organization if you use an integrator and are required to send out for bids.

But, if you need a just-right option and a fair bid on your project, there are turn-key, flexible, easy to use, try before you buy, predictable solutions. You can have a fairytale ending with an industry standard, customizable, solution that comes with a warranty, and backed by solid experience.

Next time, in Part 4: The Ups & Downs of Consult-to-Bid. (Too much this? Too much that?) Discover how to find your just right with Nomad.