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Who owns the AV department - Creating an AV Master Plan


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Audio Video Departments often struggle because of shrinking budgets. This presentation was given in February 2016 in Amsterdam during the ISE, the worlds biggest Audio Video Show.
(c) Harald Steindl

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Who owns the AV department - Creating an AV Master Plan

  1. 1. Some thoughts about the fundamental shift within our industry
  2. 2. Integral part of the technology family or unloved stepchild
  3. 3.  Up until recently our life was not that bad ◦ Mostly got the money we needed & when we needed it ◦ Did not have to really explain ourselves  Nowadays the AV budget shrinks significantly ◦ Need to accomplish more with less money ◦ “Good is good enough” instead of “Only the best” ◦ Replacements at a fraction of the previous system ◦ “No money left for you” heard more often  Although the organization needs us more than ever!
  4. 4. Good old days New reality  AV was Big Boys Toys ◦ No (real) justification needed ◦ Often their pet projects  No business case needed ◦ No controlling ◦ No formal budget not for investments not for operations  Users wanted to have it, organization tried to avoid it ◦ Business impact was rather low  AV is strictly business ◦ Used in all corners of the building ◦ Must prove its value ◦ Just another line in the budget ◦ One of many working tools  Organization PUSHES it towards the user in order to ◦ Save costs ◦ Getting work done faster and more efficient ◦ Enable “New World of Work”
  5. 5.  Yesterday  Today
  6. 6.  New skills needed to survive in the future ◦ Finding Advocates in all areas of the organization, who support our case - “AV is important for all of us” ◦ Being able to quantify, qualify and justify our needs: “We need xxx for yyy in order to accomplish zzz!” ◦ Setting up and executing a multi year plan based on long term budgets without changing course ◦ Evaluate new technology before the old breaks down
  7. 7.  New task of educating our CTO boss, that our equipment o Get things done faster & more efficient as well as saving energy o Enable totally new work styles (read: UC, room automation, … ) o Not just look impressive & sound impressive but are productive  If we fail to: ◦ Our budgets will decline steadily as we cannot prove our value ◦ We will be pushed out of ever bigger parts of our own field (QoD: How many huddle room projects happen without AV people?!) ◦ We will be trapped in the ivory tower, which will kind of always exist as a tiny niche of the industry but getting smaller each year
  8. 8.  But mainly NOT for technical reasons ◦ The CTO is THE business enabler within the organization! Nothing happens without the CTO!  We now need to get along with others ◦ All of the sudden we do have a boss demanding that we explain ourselves in order to get her/his attention (read: money, time, respect) ◦ We compete with other sub departments and have to sell our ideas besides simply delivering our tasks ◦ Let’s not forget the hidden danger: War Of Talents
  9. 9. Being in charge of your own destiny
  10. 10. Prime examples:  Projectors were too dim, too loud, having too less of resolution and broke down frequently Automatic need for constant replacement ◦ Now almost any projector is “good enough” Did you see the major price drop recently?  AV usage was a privilege of the top dogs. They demanded (and got!) always new stuff, right? ◦ Nowadays everybody is having meetings
  11. 11.  Currently installed Projectors are considered good enough  For smaller rooms procurement bought consumer LCDs with HDMI extension cords without even asking us  Top Management has other pet projects nowadays  People use Facetime instead of VC, iPads instead of touch panels; they call our stuff “old, complicated, overpriced legacy”  Our new CTO boss has no clue about AV and therefore cuts our budget or shifts it to IT  My IT buddies are being sent to trainings frequently but not me  If I think about it, the average age of our stuff increases
  12. 12. OIT Strategic Master Plan Utah Valley University’s information technology strategic plan outlines the direction and initiatives for the use of technology at the university. IT’s principle role is to successfully meet the Administrative Imperatives to Manage Growth, Secure Resources, and Operate Effectively. As a secondary role, IT supports the Student Success, Engaged, Inclusive and Serious Core Themes of the University. ©
  13. 13.  Strategic Plan ◦ Strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. … Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. … Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. ©  Strategy = Top Level The strategy will always appear coming from the top. Our job is all the supporting work & making sure to being a part of this very strategy. ;-)
  14. 14.  Direction And Initiatives ◦ What needs to be done? Who does it? What resources are needed? ◦ Remember: No pain, no gain! Business Lingo: Spend to save!  Meet the Administrative Imperatives ◦ Job security = Making sure they want something from you!  Manage Growth, Secure Resources, and Operate Effectively ◦ These are classic overall goals. Our job is to think about how we can help achieving these goals. ◦ Important: It’s not about improving internally (that’s a no brainer!) but how our technology can make a positive impact for the overall organization! No price tag = no impact!
  15. 15.  Define the role of AV within the organization ◦ How are we responsible for the overall success? ◦ If we cannot justify our existence we can only hope for charity! ◦ Define the interfaces to IT, Building management ◦ Approach HR (totally underestimated!): They “own” the user!  Define a long term investment plan ◦ What do we need when and why? If you don’t get enough input, suggest! ◦ Define expected life time for every device!  In line with your CFO’s plan regarding depreciation/write-off? Example: Austrian Tax law write-off time frame: IT-equipment 3 yrs, normal goods 5 yrs, building investments 20 yrs!
  16. 16.  Define use cases and present solutions for them  Define expected life time  At max. 9 different systems: 3 different sizes with good, better, best versions  80/20 rule does apply, so there are special rooms ◦ More than 20% have special needs? You got it all wrong!  Get approval once, roll out over time on your own  Every other department does it, why don’t we too?
  17. 17.  Track uptime and document each and every outage ◦ Users under estimate perfectly working systems but over estimate (their own) problems #dramaqueen  Hard facts will always trump. Bosses love facts but hate guesses!  Start collecting all the data you can NOW! Via SNMP, Crestron Fusion (or others), from building mgmt, etc.  Find and use metrics making sense to the bosses  Proactively hand over colourful pie charts to your boss so he/she can shine at the board meeting. NEVER forget to include suggested actions based on trends!
  18. 18.  Less than >3% usage on installed Doc Cams? ◦ Better spend our money elsewhere!  15% TV & BluRay?! ◦ Boss, we‘ve got a problem!  >8% Fixed PC vs. <50% notebook? ◦ Why do we still have fixed PCs in the room?
  19. 19. Measure all that is measureable – and make measureable what is not yet measureable © Galileo Galilei 1564-1642 Evidence-based management is a simple idea. It just means finding the best evidence that you can, facing those facts, and acting on those facts. © Professor Robert I. Sutton, Stanford University, 2006
  20. 20. Most likely the most telling piece of data: Average Age of Devices vs. Expected Lifetime  It’s that easy: If your stuff gets older over time you invest too less! This will bite you (and your boss!) badly down the road!  You do have defined an expected lifetime? It’s agreed upon, documented and in line with the CFO’s book keeping?  You do know you suffer when you hear: This seems still ok! No need to think about it now!  Tip: Start 2 years early with replacement! One for budgeting and (at least) one budget carry over (you cannot always win!) Strategic Planning = Thinking now about what should happen in 2 years
  21. 21. CAPEX Capital Expenses  Buying stuff  “Projects”  “investing” OPEX Operating Expenses  Employing people  Paying rent & energy “keeping alive” Grey area example: CAPEX or OPEX? User Training is CAPEX when budgeted within the project but OPEX if forgotten to be included!
  22. 22.  IT is calculating with 3 years life time  AV‘s life time is normally longer (how long?)  Ratio is even worse  IT people dont trust us when we only ask for CAPEX money  BTW: Some consultants are REALLY bad in geometry!  This is what you get, when you steal a graphic from the internet.
  23. 23.  Companies are obsessed to reduce OPEX (see previous slide)! ◦ CAPEX often not a big problem if budgeted in time ◦ Bosses fear that OPEX will kill them in the long run  Whenever people say „we don’t have any money“ always ask „what kind of money“ ;-)  AV people often don’t budget in advance, so no CAPEX for AV! ◦ Bosses need to take OPEX money as last resort to get things done! Did you ever “repair” a system but in fact totally replacing it? ◦ This is NOT the proper way to survive as an industry.  Once again: SPEND TO SAVE ◦ Increase CAPEX to reduce OPEX is THE Play Of The Day
  24. 24. The AV Masterplan is an agreed upon long term worksheet about the WHAT, WHY and WHEN. It is NOT a technical wish list but a serious document about the implications AV will have on the organization’s ability to achieve its overall goals by providing efficient and effective ways of communication. It also details all related investments needed in order to fulfil its duty.
  25. 25.  It takes some cheese to catch a mouse!  First, plan your work, then work your plan!  Qualify & quantify but never forget to justify!  Document or die! (German: Wer schreibt, der bleibt!)  The information is already there, what you make out of it is called innovation. (#IoT, #Big Data )  Data is nothing without interpretation! Trend = Friend  Bosses are like politicians: They need to look good despite knowing that they have no clue about the subject.
  26. 26.  Quite likely you don’t have the time and/or experience to realize an AV Master Plan on your own. Even more likely nobody inhouse would believe you. ◦ A prophet has no honour in his own country. © Bible  Maybe you need some help starting to collect relevant data from your existing installs.  Hand this over to a professional consultant. There is one standing in front of you! 
  27. 27.