Finding Your Just Right, part 2

Like Goldilocks trying to find her “just right” porridge, chair and bed, finding your just right in AV Build it Yourself design can be a process. Now, I’m by no means suggesting breaking and entering, petty theft or destruction of private property to find your “just right” in AV design. I’m merely alluding to the fact that we should explore the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods of AV design. First up: Build it Yourself.

The Upside of DIY Audio Visual Design
It’s cost effective! With your own IT Department, it is possible to develop an audio visual strategy, intending to save the organization money. There may be an individual in that department who has a passion for design and knows their way around an AV system. This person has the vision and can see the possibilities of keeping the system design inside the organization.

In the Build it Yourself design scenario, the designer and everyone else are thinking about the organization’s bottom line, how to meet the organization’s AV needs and how to design their exact vision. It can be like a fairytale.

A fairytale where:

  • Builders can design specifically for their user’s needs because there’s more opportunity to meet and communicate with them.
  • Brand preferences and parts might be easier to build into the system.
  • The review and revision process is easier once the prototype is built (i.e., if something is not exactly what was envisioned, it can be changed).
  • Support and training on short timelines is easier. Your staff knows the system, the components and how it all works.
  • Purchasing parts is cost effective and you can develop direct relationships with vendors and manufacturers with no third party labor costs.
  • It’s really fun, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Downside of DIY Audio Visual Design
Well, the downside can be horrible (like the original, dark and disturbing fairytales not meant for kids). Without enough time and resources, it quickly turns into a nightmare—pros quickly turn into cons. The organization needs enough staff with time and expertise to design, build and program its own solutions; train end users; and then support the systems. Yet, in most organizations due to an increasing overlap between technologies, IT and AV have now merged. As a result, time and resources are even more limited.

While revisions to Build it Yourself AV design are easier, given the level of involvement and the direct line of communications with end users, there can be a LOT of revisions. In addition, you can’t see or try the solutions before they are complete. The systems may also be unpredictable because the components haven’t been tested for compatibility and reliability. The important question to ask here is: who is taking on the daily responsibilities of IT and AV while they are designing, building, revising, revising…and revising again?

When it comes to ongoing support and training, it’s solely the responsibility of each organization’s own IT and AV staff. It’s easier on one hand from an efficiency and cost-effectiveness standpoint because they know the Build-it-Yourself system in and out. However, IT and AV have to reprioritize their other responsibilities if there’s no additional staff to cover day-to-day tasks.

Lastly, what if that talented designer who created the vision for building this amazing AV system moves on to a new opportunity (or gets hit by the proverbial bus)? Where does that leave your systems with regard to future maintenance, upgrades and training? Who will have the passion to step in and keep the vision and standardization of the AV systems going?

These are all key items to consider in the Build It Yourself fairytale you’ve created.

The Other Side of Audio Visual Design
Build it Yourself may be the right choice for a large organization with a large AV or IT staff. But if you need another option, think about a turn-key, easy to use, try before you buy, predictable solution. An industry STANDARD, but customizable, solution may be just right.

Next time, in Part 3: The Ups & Downs of Design/Build. (Fairytales do come true! [not really]. But you can still find your just right. Stay tuned…)