Borrowing Brains, Part I of V

5 Tips to Select and Get the Most Out of
Your A/V Design Consultant


President Woodrow Wilson once said, “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow” – Sage advice, not only for a President, but for any person in the business world. After all, who among us wants to become the clich├ęd “Jack of All Trades, Master of None?” Relying on your own ‘close enough’ knowledge of technology (or the knowledge of your brother-in-law or neighbor who is “so good with all that tech stuff”) can cost your company dearly – time, money and productivity. So, when it’s time to install or upgrade A/V systems in your company, you need to ‘borrow brains.’ You need an A/V Design Consultant.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “Wait… I thought ‘Consultants are people who borrow your watch and tell you what time it is, and then walk off with the watch.’ What gives?” Well, this may or may not be true of management and general business consultants, but it most definitely is NOT true of A/V Design Consultants. The A/V industry is vast, complicated and technical. It is fast-moving, dynamic and constantly evolving. Not to mention, every person has their own idea of what wonders of technology should be possible by now… Thanks, Hollywood.

When pursuing a new A/V system, using a consultant is a necessary step, however there are pitfalls to be avoided. However, if you follow these 5 tips, you can minimize the issues and increase the likelihood of a successful collaboration with your consultant.

Tip #1. Make Sure They Actually Know Their Stuff!

The entire point of hiring a consultant is to ‘borrow brains’ – that is to say, to hire someone with more knowledge and expertise of the topic than you do. “But,” you exclaim, “how do I know if they do or do not know more than me?” Good question. The reality of it is, there is no such thing (at the moment!) as an A/V degree. We are still an emerging industry, and a rapidly evolving one. So how do you make sure your potential consultant has a clue?

One easy way is to look for certifications, either manufacturer-specific certifications or industry-wide certifications. While this should not be your sole criteria for selection, the achievement of either type of certification shows that your potential consultant is dedicated to education and learning the latest and greatest our industry has to offer. If you want to include a control system in the A/V project, you’d be best served by hiring a consultant who knows control systems – like an AMX ACE-Certified Designer, or a Crestron System Design course certificate holder. For all around education, you can’t go wrong with an industry certification, like those offered by the National Systems Contractors Association or Infocomm International. At the very least, your potential A/V consultant should hold a basic CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) from Infocomm, if not a full CTS-D (Certified Technology Specialist – Design).

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for Tip #2!


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