Digital Signage is all about software and content right? That is what your customers are seeing and ultimately the benchmark of success right? Easy to use software, great content and a plan to execute is all I need to get up and running right?
Ok, stop right there. If we can reverse that order and start with “A plan to execute”, now we are on pace. And one of the most integral yet often overlooked aspects of that “plan” is the question of who is going to hang the screen on the wall, hook up the player and service that equipment over the coming days, weeks and years. “No problem” you say, “we’ve got the guy to do it.” Ok, but what happens when you have an installation of 400 screens in 5 states on 200 walls within a tight time frame and in varied construction scenarios? Hmmm. It gets a bit more difficult doesn’t it?
With that question in mind and several scenarios which closely adhere to the above characteristics, I thought it would be beneficial to post a quick list of elements key to a good installation.
1- Work with a known partner
As a company we have used both individual A/V companies and networks of A/V companies provided by an aggregator. The aggregator’s job is to screen the contractor used for each installation and then help project manage the entire process. While this seems to be the most logical approach for implementing large orders, it also presents the most pitfalls. There always seems to be finger pointing and never a firm allocation of fault when a problem happens.
At Captive Indoor Media, we have assembled a team of A/V partners over the years which we work with on a regular basis. Today our network of partners spans across the country and we handle project management in-house. Through the combination of an existing relationship and a single point of contact (us) for our customers, our projects run much smoother and when we do have problems, we can handle them without all of the finger pointing.
2- Make sure the Audio/Visual contractor has experience with Digital Signage
This is absolutely critical if you cannot utilize an installer that either you as an end customer or your software vendor can provide. In these cases, it is necessary to have a qualified person on hand to check the basics from signal quality to the screen and dB levels for audio to network connectivity for the player. When you do use an unknown company, their experience with most any digital signage product should be a key component of your due diligence as to their ability to install a system cleanly, professionally and quickly.
3- Have a punch list
Here is the reference to my initial comments about executing a plan. Part of the process is the up front work which includes site surveys and a concrete set of requirements for each installation. Is the screen always 8 ft’ above the floor centered behind the tellers or are there deviations? What are the power requirements and is there any existing infrastructure the system can piggy back on? What happens when a truck shows up and things are slightly different than agreed upon when the punch list was created? Do you allow that vendor some flexibility to install anyway or do you have them come back at a later date? Who is responsible for configuring the network connection for the player and who will take the call when that connection is not allowing traffic for the player? These are just some of the obvious questions that need to be covered up front before work begins. Those questions set up the document which lists a set of requirements to be met when an installer begins at each location. When each of those requirements are met, a manager at the location should be required to check each to ensure they have been done and then agree that work is complete with their signature.
4- Have an experienced Software Vendor
As much as I would like to preach that Captive Indoor Media is in the software and content delivery business, we are also in the project management business. We carefully follow progress of each project, big or small, and manage constant communication (both verbal and documented) between all parties involved. Experience in this area should be a part of any vendor selection.
5- Maintain Consistency of labor
When large installations are taking place, we try to assign project teams that will gain efficiencies over the course of the installation project. It seems common sense to claim that 5 teams doing 40 locations each will be moving much faster on locations 30-40 than on locations 1-10. They gain confidence, relationships and knowledge which ultimately transcends to a good, clean installation. If there are constant changes in labor, it is more difficult to attain efficiencies and consistent quality.