For churches and businesses, opening up a new building or campus makes for an exciting time. The same goes for getting a new sound system, installing an LED wall, putting in new cameras… you name it.
When we worked in tech at large churches, we always looked forward to these moments. Even in the corporate world, breaking up the monotony and getting shiny new toys never fails to amaze and entertain us.
Plus, these projects help us do what we do best… only better. The upgrades mean you can pursue your organization’s mission harder, and see the dream become reality.
But these projects feel… hectic. Some would say crazy. This is especially true when you’re the Person In Charge. It will add hours to your weeks… and possibly some sweat and tears along with them.
In this article:
As the lead, you have to speak with ten different contractors, all of whom want you to hire them before giving you a real quote. Depending on the job, and your location, you’ll be talking to the city quite a bit. This means long phone calls and forms, everyone’s favorite! Plus, you have to deal with whatever surveyors and architects you need.
We know one church that wanted to install a new system. They ended up paying an ungodly amount for a surveyor to tell them whether the ceiling could hold the subwoofers up without caving in. Stuff like that is bound to come up in your project, too.
Then you have to work with vendors, distributors, and installers. Your new building will need sound equipment, and your new LED wall requires a new computer of its own. After all this, you need to train your existing team on the new gear. Many will have to learn as they go though, since the majority of the team is composed of volunteers… at least in the case of churches.
All this sounds fun, right?
Thankfully, many of these difficulties can be overcome with the right planning. In our time overseeing too many of these projects to count, then transitioning into helping others with theirs, we’ve learned a thing or two.
Here are 3 common mistakes project leads make during their AVL projects and how to avoid them:
Mistake 1: Failing to Set a Comprehensive Budget
As you may expect, these projects carry a ton of expenses. We all expect that. But it’s the unexpected expenses that get you.
Many project leads fail to think through all the little ways that their AVL project will nickel and dime them throughout the process. Then, the project inevitably goes over budget, making the project lead’s direct oversight none too happy. Not that it’s ever happened to us…
When you set your budget, take some time to brainstorm. The project will throw you curveballs, so the more detailed you can make the budget, the better. We found that by setting line items for the smallest of things, very little ended up surprising us. Sometimes we even set aside money that we ended up not needing, which we were able to assign to different areas.
Another pro tip: Include a line item titled “Unexpected Fees” or something like that. Whenever we included wiggle room in our budget like that, things simply went smoother. When unexpected expenses came up, we didn’t have to sweat it.
Mistake 2: Having an Unrealistic (Or non-existent) Timeline
Your AVL project will take time. Almost every contractor you work with, from the general contractor, to the surveyor, to the install team, will take as long as they quote you for… or longer. We ran a ton of projects over the years. Almost none had a phase completed ahead of schedule. That is, unless we planned for it…
Most of the pain from being behind schedule comes from having an unrealistic timeline. It’s like the adage that frustration and disappointment come from our experiences minus our expectations. If you adjust your expectations, you won’t be disappointed. This is especially true for a project with many moving parts.
Then there are the free spirits among us who don’t even bother to set a timeline. But they are fewer and farther between, because they rarely find themselves in positions where project management is part of their job description. Still, if that’s you, set a schedule! Even if the project seems simple.
You could also help this process along through project management software. The landscape for helpful tools in this domain has improved by leaps and bounds since the onset of the pandemic. We prefer using Monday.com, but we’ve also seen favorable things from Asana and Trello. They get a bit addicting, to be honest… but once you try them you’ll find it difficult to work without them.
Essentially, you want to plan everything out, and lay it all on the table. This ensures that the project is never halted because of you. You know exactly where every tasks lies, and who needs to move the ball forward at any given moment. Talk about piece of mind!
Mistake 3: Not Talking to an AVL Integrator BEFORE Starting
This is a mistake we made a couple times during our careers, and then never again. Essentially, you want to make sure there is as little interruption in your services or business operations as possible. However, we often forget to talk to an AVL integrator long before we actually need them, and so we’re left waiting on the gear we need.
Or, we don’t even realize that it’s possible to schedule some of these things far in advance. Talk to any integrator (including us) and they’ll be happy to hear that you need them in eight weeks, just not at the moment. And if they want your business, they’ll be ready with whatever you ask for right on the day you need it.
At ALTA, we want to help you captivate your audience through excellent live experiences. We don’t even focus on technology; we focus on your needs. We have a team of wizened tech gurus who work hard to ensure you have the right tools for the job, whatever they are. Plus, we’re vendor-agnostic, preferring to deliver the best fit, regardless of the profit margin for us.
We think of our clients as partners forging a new future with us. As the church continues to evolve over the 21st century, we want to be at the forefront of innovation. And we want to come alongside the tech leaders powering that revolution.
Book a meeting here to get started. We’ll chat about your project and needs, free of cost. In the least, you’ll walk away more knowledgeable and confident about your project. At the most, this could be the start of a beautiful partnership.
Even if you don’t go with us, we still recommend talking to an AVL integrator weeks before you need them. You’ll thank us later.
Best of luck on your project!