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Profitable projects over time, where to start?

documentación av

The first thing to do is to write a document with the needs and objectives of the audiovisual project, there are many methods to do this.

Juan Tamayo*

I am an electronic engineer, during my career I prepared to work in the industry (applied control for automated processes) and by a turn or accident of life I came to an interactive museum and then to a company of distribution of products and installation of audiovisual projects. They have been more than 16 years of experience in the development of projects and now working as a consultant in processes and projects both for companies that manufacture products and / or distribution channels, as well as processes in Latin America for end customers and / or installation companies in Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica.

This small introduction I make to present a support on my experience in the subject, considering that I want to support those who develop projects being an installation company or the client's representative who is in charge of the project. Next, I will deliver a small list of features that a project must have to be profitable. But be very careful, this is not so easy and requires a lot of internal work from organizations to achieve the desired goals.

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Document your project and it is important to have a log of the entire development of your project. In our audiovisual universe we believe that the first document that the client sees is the quote, and we accustom the person who buys the project that the most important thing is the value in money reflected at the end of the document as a global, and this is where the problems begin.

According to different organizations such as AVIXA or CEDIA, they recommend that the first thing that should be done is to write a document with the needs and objectives of the audiovisual project. There are many methods to do this, I use a lot of a simple connection diagram in which I put the needs/objectives and a small summary of how to achieve this. Once this document has been reviewed with the end customer, and the parties agree, the quote is made. And money matters, but it is useless to buy the cheapest project if it is not going to work, it would be an expense and not an investment.

documentación avIf prior to the quotation there is no design, proceed to make this. But in the budget you should have included this value, do not punish the approved budget with extra work, since possibly you will tell your designer to do a job that does not add many hours, since time is money. If the project starts badly, it has a high degree of probability that it will end badly, so the design must be clear enough for the installation process to be efficient. A design must at least have the following documents: architectural location plan, element connectivity plan or unifilar diagram, document in which the functionality of the elements with needs to be met and objectives is explained, documents of requirements to other areas in the construction process, database of wiring and connectors, among many other documents that will help the installation area to be clear about what should be done.

Some will say that all these elements generate a cost to the project. And yes, they raise their initial cost, but possibly the cost in the installation process will be lower by rework. It is important to be clear that the designer is present in the construction process, because it is he who can solve doubts, give suggestions or evaluate if the construction process is adequate.

During the construction process it is important to document and keep the client informed of everything that involves locating and fine-tuning the elements. Keep in mind that the more peace of mind you give the end customer, the calmer the installation process will be. Unforeseen events happen all the time, how the customer will react will only depend on the installer. Update schedules constantly, indicate the delays and the reason for them, if possible inform you of possible action plans, so you can go one step ahead and your client will take you as an ally, and not a supplier. Any change generated in the construction process must be authorized and endorsed by the end customer, hopefully in writing and store this communication for support if in the future it requires to argue or justify this.

During the construction process you can start the process of educating the client, do not wait at the end to explain how the equipment or system works. Start this process by profiling the person who will operate the system, it is technology, and not everyone has the educational ability to manipulate an audiovisual system. That is why it is important that you as responsible indicate to your client what capabilities the person must have to operate the system.

Hopefully that person is hired prior to the completion of the project, so that he can start the courses of equipment of manufacturers that are given online. These courses give the person the option to know what is installed. Do not worry about the changes that this user can make, I will already explain how to protect yourself against this. In some cases I have recommended that within your budget you generate a registration payment for the first year to your end customer of the association of your choice, so you can tell the client that for the system to operate correctly you must perform certain trainings already evaluated by you. Such as, for example, basic audiovisual principles, audiovisual mathematics, current regulations, among others.

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documentación avYou are already finalizing the project, it is time to program the system. Prior to this work you had to validate with the client if the objectives and structure of the system is in accordance with what was contracted. A project can evolve during the execution process, even elements could be added or removed, they are dynamic processes, so to program there must be a manual of actions so that the person who performs this commissioning (from the English "commissioning") if it is different from the installer has a structured basis of what to do.

For the delivery of the project the contractor must have a testing manual or delivery of the system. This is basically a checklist of each of the systems or subsystem that composes, its actions, its characteristics among other elements already defined by the audiovisual regulations. So, if everything has been properly defined in the construction process, this test manual will be carried out quickly and efficiently. Even in the standard it is indicated that tests or verifications are carried out from before the installation.

To finalize the project it is important to document the delivery that some believe is to make an operation manual, a signature of a deed and ready. Well, no, it's much more than that. It is to deliver a collection of everything that has been done, each installation feature, list of active elements with serial number, MAC address, IP address. A backup of programming and configuration of the systems (important in case the staff refits a system, changes parameters or a team is replaced), documents of good practices, training plan of the personnel that operates the system and many other elements.

Many companies believe that the project ends with the signing of the final act, but they have not realized that the profitability of the project is just beginning. I consider that the most important element to have a good profitability is the after-sales, and basically it is the actions that go after a delivery. We have two types, those that are on the guarantee date and those that are after this date. Both are important, if a project has many after-sales in the warranty period it means that the profits generated by the project decrease with each visit, because they are not programmed in the costs, each visit is a quantification of expenses by time of the company responsible for the installation.

If the project has many after-sales or these are very serious, there is a risk that the client does not call them for after-sales actions after the warranty date called maintenance, where here it is invoiced to help the client keep the system ready, giving way to be able to make new sales. If you manage to get to maintenance and your customer is happy, let me congratulate or congratulate you because your project is possibly very profitable.

There are many other activities to ensure the profitability of the project over time. Each project will have its own activities, its personality, including an independent management. I do not have an exact formula that groups each company and project, they are slow processes, with a high degree of inertia and rejection of change by all the internal actors that are involved to achieve these changes. At first it will be expensive because of the investment of time and possibly money, but the results will have a very high percentage of success. And although I believe that money should not always be the one that moves the company, with these actions you can take care of this precious asset and, most importantly, you can have customers who are preserved over time.

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*Juan Tamayo, CTS-D, is an electronic engineer and currently serves as Manager of T-Árbol Audiovisuales SAS, product application engineer for Latin America for International Sales and Support Engineer for Synthax Inc.

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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