AV just the way you want it

Tackling the procurement process head on!

I was interested to discover that some of our clients are acutually influenced by their purchasing department when it comes to selecting technical audio-visual systems for their organisation.

I recently attended a client briefing workshop to tease out what exactly they wanted from the AV systems in their sparkly new building. There were the usual aspirations of the three F’s: functionality, flexibility and future-proofing, and we quickly moved on to the specifics of equipment to be found in each room: the LCD screen on the wall, the loudspeakers, the microphones etc

As part of our brief we are required to compile a specification and a bill of quantities to be tendered with the ultimate aim of appointing a systems integrator to supply, install and configure the systems. Nothing new there. However when I asked if there were any preferred products, systems or manufacturers we should be specifying; I was surprised with the answer.

It transpires that to comply with in-house procurement policies, stakeholders and operational teams are not allowed to specify particular manufacturers or products when going out to market for suppliers. All items to be supplied should be based on performance specifications only. Apparently this is to ensure there is fair competition.

This is all very well when it comes to pens, paper, tables and chairs, I suppose. But when it comes to control or lecture capture systems for example, surely we need to ‘nail it down’, especially if you have spent a lot of time and effort designing the system to work, just the way you want or want to impose standards across your AV estate.

The client team explained that they had a variety of control systems across their estate and in the same breath they were explaining that they had no [single] platform on which to monitor and support their infrastructure. This for one was causing all sorts of problems for the support team. There was little point in holding spares stock since that would mean too many components to hold – there was no standardised design.

It seemed odd to me. If you want something in particular, you put it on your shopping list. Bidders would give you a price for it and you got to choose who gives you the best price and the best service to go with it.

Out of curiosity I enquired ‘what data network switches do you use?’

‘We are a Cisco house. We use Cisco monitoring and management system for the whole network. We don’t use anything else’ came the reply.

So there is some reasoning to be had with the procurement policies!

It would appear that so long as there is a strategic, contractual or commercial justification you CAN specify exactly what you want. The procurement policies may, in our case, have been misinterpreted or have been implemented incorrectly.

We continued to identify a number of AV products that were common place across the estate because they were either preferred by the IT/AV team because they have performed well in the past, or there is specific infrastructure already in place, e.g. the lecture capture system.

We will be specifying those products by make/model and others as the design for each system is finalised. It would be ridiculous to use anything different. Tell your suppliers exactly what you want and get a good price for it. Sounds fair to me.


Do you have an AV strategy for your organisation?

Does it drive:

  • Provision of higher quality facilities and spaces

  • Consistent staff experience

  • Best value procurement

  • Faster and cheaper system support and less downtime

  • Support for new working practices

  • Enablement of long-term planning

  • Simplified operations

  • Reduced number of contracts to manage

If not - perhaps we can help.

it's just.jpg