Budgeting for AV? Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes
With audio visual system budgeting, success lies in the details. Being prepared with the right information can be the difference between a smooth project and frustration, cutting out needed capabilities and missing the mark with functionality.
So, where do you start when determining an AV budget?
First, think through most common use cases for the room. Explore who will be using it and what they need to be able to do in the space. The experience employees need in the space will drive the technology choices and design.
AV systems don’t have to be synonymous with high costs (especially with pay-by-the-month options). Basic video conferencing systems can be attainable for everyone from startups to single-office companies. However, the more functionality and flexibility is needed, the more important it becomes to get a trusted AV integrator involved early in the process. They’ll help you budget and find the right balance between price and functionality.
Many disparate pieces come together in an intelligently-designed collaborative space, but don’t feel overwhelmed. We’ve outlined common budgeting mistakes, so that you don’t fall into the same traps.
Mistake #1: Forgetting About Costs
Many businesses underestimate the costs of building out and maintaining their conference rooms.
They research the basic costs of the AV equipment, googling the cost of a consumer-level display and speaker and forgetting about a multitude of additional considerations. The later surprise that comes when pricing doesn’t align with their initial budget leaves them deciding whether to change the budget or peel back important functionality.
To avoid this, be sure to consider these common (but not always obvious) costs when creating your initial AV budget:
- upgrades for legacy power equipment
- relocation of power outlets
- furniture considerations
- subscriptions for licensing (video conferencing, digital signage players, etc.)
- warranties & extended service agreements
- project costs (design, programming, installation, commissioning, and support)
Every AV system setup will have different requirement, and thus pricing can vary significantly. Bringing an AV integrator into your budgeting discussion from the beginning helps prevent inaccurate estimates and helps you get a budget that aligns with your needs.
Mistake #2: Not Understanding Network Requirements
Another common mistake is misunderstanding how the new AV system will work on the existing company network. You can’t make an accurate budget without input from your IT department.
Some considerations include:
IT Service managers
Some organizations outsource their network management and making any network changes must involve that management team. This could include modifying firewalls, activating ports, or granting outside access to network.
Having enough network drops in the right location in each conference room is key and putting in new drops or moving existing ones can add in cost. Companies will often put each network device on its own network drop for easier management. Close coordination with your AV designer can help get these drops in the right location the first time.
Video conferencing and wireless sharing can be very bandwidth-heavy on a network, and IT may need to upgrade the network.
If you are working with an AV integrator, you’ll want to connect them with your IT team and other decision makers as early as possible in the budgeting and design process. Let the technical experts work out the details, and you will decrease the chances of surprise network concerns down the road.
Mistake #3: Not Bringing in the Experts
Would you ever build a house without involving an architect and contractor? For most of us the answer is no.
However, with AV, many businesses take this approach.
Budget estimates are based on limited exposure to other AV systems and a quick search for residential-grade displays and speakers.
Real costs of a fully-integrated and customized AV system aren’t taken into consideration, leaving businesses to cut out functionality in order to squeeze the system into the pre-determined budget.
Intelligent design of an AV system requires experience, knowledge, and skills — and a smart business brings in a professional AV integrator as early as possible. Here’s a few key reasons that you want an AV integrator involved in your budgeting and planning process:
- We’ve seen what works… and what doesn’t. At Neurilink, we have seen the pros and cons of a wide variety of spaces and technologies. We understand the relationship between the right technology and overall experience in the room. For example, the size of a room strongly influences the size of displays, the placement of mics and speakers, and the connectivity options so that everyone can participate in the meeting. We can price out the solution that works for your space and your specific needs.
- We prioritize a seamless user experience. Every space has different requirements, and an experienced integrator can ensure that your AV solution functions as a seamless experience. Your CEO should be able to sit down in a conference room, connect his or her laptop to room’s system, and easily perform whatever conferencing or sharing functions are needed. If an AV interface is confusing or doesn’t work, that downtime costs money, time, and employee effectiveness
When should you talk to an AV integrator?
As soon as possible! Even if the AV system is not a budget line item yet, start the discussion with an AV integrator. Clear the hurdles at the beginning, rather than during production or at the end. Make sure that when you go to budget, your budget is informed and accurate by having the right conversations at the right time.