Whenever we are brought on board with a new project team, we get some version of this question: “What’s with all the checklists?”
“So, let me get this straight. You go through a checklist after the engineering is done on a job, after it’s built in the shop, and then AGAIN once the installation is complete?! That seems like an incredible waste of time. I bet you have a checklist to buy underwear, too, right?”
The simple answer is we want to catch any issues with the system as quickly as possible. We want to do this not only so we have more time to make corrections, but also because the sooner you spot an issue in the project timeline, the less expensive/difficult it will be to fix.
Have you ever been involved with a project where the wrong device was specified in the equipment list? I think we can all agree that catching an equipment change would be easy to fix before it was ordered. You just change the equipment list.
Cost = $0
I think it’s also fair to say that dealing with the wrong device in the shop before shipping to the site is not too bad. Sure, the wrong device was already put in the rack. Sure, we might have put the wrong cables on it. Sure, we already updated firmware. But, at least we are in the shop where we can bench test things easily. My engineers are right down the hall, so I can figure out the replacement device quickly. We have all our tools and connectors available. We have the internet to look up a replacement and get new firmware. We can deal with it pretty easily and quickly.
Cost = some labor + small re-stocking fee + small project time = $X00
Now, if an equipment issue is caught in the field, we have problems. Troubleshooting the issue is harder because getting to the rack is very difficult. All the field cables are already dressed in, so it’s going to be a nightmare to pull out. There is no internet access, so downloading the 230MB firmware is going to take hours from my hot spot. The newbie technician who wired up the rack is also the one troubleshooting, instead of an engineer who could spot the issue in seconds. I also need to figure out some way to get it out of the building and have the new device overnighted. I also didn’t catch this soon enough, and the client has an event tomorrow.
Cost = more labor + expedited shipping + delays in passing information from the field to the office + overtime to put it in once the client occupies the room + renting temporary equipment to get through the event = $X,000
For simple integrated video conference systems, a design review might take an hour. A shop staging might take two hours. A field commissioning might take four hours. It’s peanuts compared to the headaches it could save you if you are only testing systems at the very end of the projects.
As systems get more complex, testing takes more time. This is true. But, think of what is at risk. Quality Assurance, with multiple checks at key milestones during the project, is the only way to be profitable in the AV industry and/or complete projects on time. Quality Control (one check at the very end) will catch things, but they will be very expensive and time consuming to fix.
As for the second question: It’s true. I do have a checklist to buy underwear. You would too if you got caught on vacation with new undergarments that hugged you in the all the wrong places. It’s something I don’t like to talk about.