Still Packing Granny On Top. Guest Post by Marc LaVecchia

By Marc LaVecchia – President, BMA Software Solutions

While driving to a job site recently, I stopped beside an old pickup moving someone who was either a terrible planner or in a desperate hurry to move. The items were stacked frighteningly high, defying any rules of balance, as if the plan for loading the truck was based solely on the order in which the items were brought out of the house.

My first thought was that the only thing missing was Granny Clampett and her rocking chair packed at the top. Even as a child watching “The Beverly Hillbillies,” I envisioned a suddenly rich Jed Clampett in a rush to leave, somehow forgetting to bring Granny with him, only to hoist her atop the pile in a last-second act of desperation to head West.

After almost 25 years in the AV business, the last 10 running a controls programming firm, I’m amazed how often our industry still treats control systems like Jed packing Granny on top with her chair. How does one of the most important parts of the family get treated as an afterthought?

Such is the life of a control system. Intended exclusively to simplify the complex, it often becomes the grandmother no one remembered to pack.

Successful AV integration starts with the control system functionality determined at the outset of every project.  It should begin with simple questions to flush out conflicts and lead to a working document and a system approved by the very people who will manage and use that system once the rooms are complete.

If you’re involved with AV integration, either as an installer or an end user, and you find the control system being treated like Granny Clampett, here are some tips to get back on track.

The moment a control system is introduced to your project, start asking the following questions:

1)      Who will be in charge of approving how the room will function?

The moment you identify this person is the moment Granny stops being an afterthought.

2)      Who will be using the rooms?

Will the rooms always be used by the same people, or will users vary on any given day?  Defining users early drives functionality, and driving functionality early ensures faster sign-off and approval of the room at the project’s end.

3)      Who will be programming the system?

A job is not complete until the control system is signed off.  Experienced, certified programmers are critical to a job’s success. This is not the time to let Jethro learn on the job.

4)      Is this the only room you’re going to build, or will be there more?

And if there will be more, are you planning to manage your AV assets and energy usage, or track which rooms and resources are being used most (and least)?

Now is the time to have that talk. The control system drives that data, and putting it in early is MUCH easier than adding it in later, even if you don’t plan to tap into the data right away.

This, of course, is just the start. But in truth, that’s where your control system belongs.  Don’t let the mad dash to move your family leave Granny tied to the roof. Plan ahead. Make Granny a priority at the beginning, and with any luck, in the end she’ll fix you some vittles while you relax by the cement pond.

Marc LaVecchia is president of BMA Software Solutions, Inc, an independent controls programming firm now celebrating its 10thyear in business. He has been in the AV world in a sales, marketing and management role for over 25 years, initially cutting his teeth at AmPro Corporation, and ultimately moving on to Hughes/JVC and Stewart Filmscreen before starting up the West Coast operations for Crestron Electronics. He spent almost nine years developing and managing Crestron sales and dealer relations in the Western and Mountain States before starting up BMA Software Solutions in 2004.

Marc and BMA Software Solutions are joining with Steve Greenblatt and Control Concepts, Inc. to present TechTalk, an exclusive community of peers and service provider professionals who can share best practices, discuss experiences, problem solve, provide support, answer questions, offer innovative solutions for each other through in-person and online learning, content development and interactive discussion groups.  TechTalk’s inaugural event, TechTalk: Control Experts’ Tips from the Trenches, is taking place Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at Gordon Biersch, Las Vegas, following the InfoComm Solutions Summit.