In an ideal world, equipment would not be ordered until all drawings have been completed and the design formally reviewed by a cross functional (engineering, operations, administrative) team. The idea being, at that point, all the nuts and bolts required for a successful build have been flushed out and the bill of materials contains everything required for the project.
This is not an ideal world.
So, what are we to do when equipment needs to be ordered immediately after the job is awarded? [Said in my Brain impression:] The same thing we do every night, Pinky…try to take over the world…with CHECKLISTS! Seriously.
The tab behind our Bill of Materials form is the Bill of Materials Checklist. Every time we get burned by something, we add to it and share it with the team. There’s the typical stuff like, “Did you remember to order rackmounts and/or power supplies for this type of equipment?” There’s the project management stuff like, “If you are ordering any large equipment (displays, screens), has the delivery been coordinated?” There are the reminders like, “Has the client been made explicitly aware of the size of the equipment rack, and will it fit where it’s supposed to with the proper ventilation, especially if credenzas and/or lecterns are involved?” There are also the gotchas like, “If you’re ordering a camera, do you need a video/control extender as well?” There are also the don’t-you-dares like, “NEVER order a display from this manufacturer with this suffix if you want true, bidirectional RS232!”
This type of checklist isn’t necessarily part of our Quality Management System, or part of AV9000, but it has saved a lot of headaches on fast-track projects. As with any checklist, it can easily be shared with the team so everyone gets the benefits of my mista…er…“learning experiences.” And, if you want to get really fancy, you can put elements of this checklist onto a site survey or proposal checklist, so whoever is proposing the project incorporates these items into the equipment list before the client sees it.
All of these items would be captured by a proper design review, and this certainly does not replace the need for one. I know what you’re thinking. If I expect you to hold up delivery of a system until after it’s been properly staged in the shop, why can’t I hold up ordering the equipment until after the system has had a proper design review. As I said in the beginning, this is not an ideal world. Some items have long lead times. Some projects have impossibly short schedules. Sometimes kit just needs to be ordered immediately. This is not the ideal way to order equipment, and it comes with its pitfalls. However, by applying easy to create and manage checklists to the ordering process judiciously, we can mitigate the risks of these less than ideal conditions.
[Said in my Pinky impression:] Zort!