There are plenty of common nightmares about the workplace.
Ever have the one where you show up to work one day only to discover you have a huge presentation that you forgot about? Or, what about the one where you’re running a meeting and your teeth start falling out?
Or, and this is by far the worst, how about the one where you show up to host a video conference only to find a system you have no idea how to operate?
For companies that have not invested in a process for AV system standardization, that last nightmare is too often a reality.
If employees must learn a different video or audio system every time they use a new conference room or visit a new location, it's often that productivity and user satisfaction suffer. However, if you plan ahead and begin your technology purchases with standardization guidelines and policies for continued maintenance already in place, you can avoid frustration and wasted time while also saving money because a standardized AV system means fewer resources taken up by training, emergency repairs and on-the-spot trouble shooting.
How To Start Your Standardization Plan
Establishing a standardized AV system is always easier with a plan. Your AV standardization plan should include a well-defined objective, such as “create a standardized AV user experience across all office locations.”
Your plan should also include a list of stakeholders and decision makers, required resources, and best practices and lessons that can be applied. Next, comes the most important part of your plan: the business objectives you want to accomplish.
Here are some key goals to consider when creating an AV system standardization plan:
- Centralize technology purchases. Staff input into technology purchases is important—you don’t want to spend your money on technologies no one likes or wants to use—but individual employees or departments should not do their own purchasing. Centralized purchasing simplifies accounting and ensures hardware and software compatibility. It also allows you to buy in larger quantities, which means as new employees come on board or equipment needs to be replaced, you’ll have an inventory of compatible hardware and software to work with.
- Embrace policy. Every standardization plan should include policies that make the plan easier to understand and adopt. Make sure your plan and related policies address topics such as requesting system support, purchasing new equipment, and acceptable use standards. Every policy should reflect your overall standardization and centralization goals.
- Think about the future. Taking an inventory of your existing AV equipment will give you an idea of what equipment will need to be replaced when, so you can make strategic decisions about when and how to make larger purchases that support standardization. An inventory will also help you identify isolated incompatible equipment that you can get rid of immediately. You should also plan ahead by talking to a cross-section of departments about their hiring and budget projections for the coming year. This will give you at least a rough idea of what type and how many new pieces of equipment you’ll need, making it easier to purchase standardized, compatible technologies.
Benefits of AV Standardization
Sometimes selling your AV standardization plan to the boss can be just as hard as developing the plan in the first place. The good news is, AV standardization has enough benefits to win over even the biggest skeptic. Here are some benefits you can expect from—and use to justify—an investment in and implementation of an AV standardization plan.
- Increase mobility. With AV systems standardized across multiple locations, employees can more seamlessly operate in disparate office spaces opening the door to increased collaboration.
- Reduce burden on IT staff. Users and IT staff members face a learning curve with every new piece of equipment you implement. A standardized system means everyone can be quickly and easily trained to solve routine issues. Easier troubleshooting improves user experience and takes the pressure of IT staffs who no longer need to be called in for every system glitch.
- Centralize your IT management. Standardization supports centralization and allows your IT staff more control over purchases, maintenance and use guidelines and policies.
- Avoid compatibility problems. Replacing hardware parts and pieces can be a headache if you’re using too many different models or systems. Standardized equipment makes hardware fixes and software troubleshooting easier and faster.
The last piece of the puzzle is technical know-how. A large investment in an AV system overhaul is hard to tackle successfully without the right tools in hand.