20 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
Successfully managing complexity Major AV projects are almost always complex projects. To begin this special report, Ian McMurray looks at the proactive steps that integrators and others can take to ensure that complex installations reach a successful conclusion. On the following pages, we report on some real-life examples of successful but challenging projects
ith 100 billion neurons and some 100 trillion nerve connections, it will come as no surprise to ﬁnd that the most complex thing known to mankind is the human brain. The space shuttle, for example, with its mere 2.5 million parts, 370km of cable, 1,000+ valves and connections and more than 1,400 circuit breakers, pales into insigniﬁcance beside it. Even the complexity of the Stratix 10 FPGA, with its 30 billion transistors, doesn’t really come close. The world has become more complex – and, very often, that complexity is reﬂected in the AV industry: the halcyon days when a projector and screen were the height of audiovisual sophistication are long gone. But what creates the complexity in today’s installations – and how can integrators ensure that particularly challenging projects are no less successful than simpler ones? “Location is one of the challenges that contribute most to project complexity,” believes Ross Magri, managing director of visitor attractions designer Sarner. “Working in emerging economies and dealing with differences in culture, customs and immigration, lack of local resources and contractors who, shall we say, don’t necessarily have the focus on deadlines that we do can make life difficult.
“That’s not to say that complex technology does not present its own challenges, especially if it’s very new and may have been rushed to market and hasn’t beneﬁted from being fully tested within a complete, integrated system,” he goes on, “but these challenges are manageable – whereas locations are much less so.”
‘The further from the ﬁnal client you are in the chain, the more complex the project is’ Eliot Fulton-Langley, CDEC
Multiple stakeholders For consultant Roland Hemming, who specialises in the design and management of audio installations, it’s the number of stakeholders that can make life difficult – as was the case with his involvement in the London 2012 Olympics. “We needed to ensure that the requirements of the athletes, the broadcasters, the spectators, each venue team, local authorities and so on were all met – and work in conjunction with many other departments and with numerous
Key Points There are many ways in which a project can become complex – but it’s possible to identify most likely causes Technology is rarely a cause of project complexity – unless it’s unproven or being deployed in a radically new way High value or multi-site does not per se mean complexity – only more pressure or more challenging logistics There is no substitute for detailed planning at the outset, with risk identification the priority Regular, clear, honest communication between stakeholders is key contractors. The requirements and expectations of these different groups are quite different and sometimes in conﬂict. Finding a way through this, while also delivering your element, can be hard.” He has an ally in Steve Blyth, founder and group CEO of creative technology agency Engage Works. “Projects get much less simple when there are multiple stakeholders/client teams or multiple clients,” he notes. “That leads to more