The new AV9000 Standard for 2016 has been released. So why should we be excited? After all, the AV market changes so rapidly that the AV9000 Standard is updated annually, is it not?
Perhaps…but, the bigger question is, “Why do AV providers still deliver systems that result in ‘punch lists’?”
As AV technology gradually became more complicated, more technically demanding, more predicated on an organized team approach for success, we who are involved with AV as a culture became more complacent. At the end of a project, everyone expects “punch lists,” those lists of equipment and functions that don’t adhere to the client’s original contract specifications. We’ve lost track of the fact that the customer expects, and is entitled to, a system that is delivered on time, exactly as ordered in product and functionality, with absolutely no defects. When we consider punch lists an inevitable part of doing business, profits are lost. Budgets are wasted, and eventually depleted.
Why is this happening? The simple answer is human behavior. Let me be clear: We need to focus on the “human systems” that provide the AV systems. It happens in every industry. The new AV9000 is the “Big Deal” that provides a proven solution to this pervasive problem.
The AV9000 Standard is a powerful tool to those who understand it and know how to apply it. It also saves the Buyer a lot of headaches and time. It has, among other things, the only criteria for certifying an AV installation to be in compliance with the order, and makes it easier for the Provider to get paid. It also has the means for the Buyer to convey a level of expectations and a means for monitoring compliance. The standard is maintained and updated by a taskforce consisting of Buyers and Providers who are qualified and experienced in AV quality inspections and performance measurements.
Except for the most complicated auditoriums and multipurpose rooms, the checklists (or tests) included in AV9000 do not take a long time to complete, and they have been consistently and successfully applied for years on thousands of systems, taking even less time as people become more experienced in their use. The application of AV9000 and the discipline to adhere to it by both the Provider and the Buyer solves the problem of punch lists popping up at the end of a project quite efficiently. It is, indeed, a “Big Deal.”
Instead of a typical “boilerplate” of quality assurance technobabble, the practical tests included in the checklists are meant to catch every defect, to do so in an efficient manner and to focus on the activities of the AV Provider, as opposed to the activities of the manufacturers or architect. The tests focus on the product, practices and performance of what is being delivered, providing a comprehensive test plan for an AV system that will confirm compliance with what was ordered or specified.
AQAV (Association for Quality in Audio Visual Technology, Inc.) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that has as its primary mission to improve the quality in audiovisual technology. Although the AV9000 Standard is primarily for the benefit of the AV Buyer (as opposed to InfoComm, which is a trade association for the AV Provider), it nevertheless greatly benefits the AV Provider by applying the tools that the standard supplies to them.
When looking at other industries and how they address poor quality, it is unrealistic to expect AV Providers to actually embrace this solution. In the automotive, aerospace and telecommunications industries, the providers only did so when the Buyer insisted on it. This offers the provider no choice.
The good news, however, is that, although some providers may spend additional money for quality assurance, it more than offsets the hidden costs of doing things wrong by a factor of at least three to one.
What a concept! Applying “quality” actually provides greater profits without increasing sales! The result is that AV Providers then actually drop their prices to increase their market share. Everybody wins!
The more AV Buyers realize that they actually have the power, through the language of their RFPs, to improve their vendor pools by adding the AV9000 Standard into the language of their RFPs, the more AV Providers will stop wasting time and profits.
Let me repeat that profound statement: The AV Buyer has the power to improve the AV industry. Not the government. Not the trade association. Not the manufacturers, but the Buyers themselves. AQAV gives them the tools and the means to do it, and provides resources at www.aqav.org to do so:
- suggested language for an RFP
- Cost of Poor Quality Calculators for the technology manager as well as the AV company. The Cost of Poor Quality is defined as those costs, usually in lost time, that have to be expended to address defects. If there are none, the Cost of Poor Quality is zero.
- information for membership and access to the AV9000 Standard (free to technology managers)
- information about training programs
- information about member companies, sponsors and supporters
- blog posts with additional reading and background about the AV Quality Movement.The great news is that we have already started on the quality revolution, with benefits already being enjoyed. There are volunteers who can help the uninitiated through the process. The formula is simple and up to no one but the Buyer:
- Be specific and unambiguous in what you ask for. Pay attention to function and performance (many RFPs are little more than an equipment list that require assumptions on the part of the Provider to determine what the equipment is intended to do).
- Use AV9000 in the quality assurance language to describe how the system is to be installed.
- Apply unrelenting discipline to keep the project team on course. Accept no excuses. Don’t pay until you get what was asked for.
As more providers become AV9000 Compliant, they reduce cost and increase profits, find that their satisfied customers become their main sales force and enjoy intangible benefits as well. Retention improves because people like what they do more when they do it well.
The checklists relieve the burden of worry if you forgot anything. Doing things right the first time means you have more control over your time. The staff enjoys the appreciation of the customers. And when things do go wrong (Murphy’s Law is always in play!), the focus is on improving the process to avoid repeating a mistake, instead of blaming someone for the mistake that will inevitably happen. And, because you catch all the defects before the customer becomes aware of them, there is real satisfaction of a job well done.
In other words, the employees receive “psychic income.” This is a big deal because, when employees do not receive psychic income, they will demand other types of income. It’s only human to do so.
And that’s why it’s a “Big Deal” for everyone in AV.