How To Pick Your Audiovisual Consultant

Essential Criteria to Review Before Hiring an AV Consultant

There are so many “Audio-Visual Consultants” in the world. How do you know if you are picking the right one?

Does your consultant do everything needed to make your project a success? Or are they doing just enough to make it confusing, expensive, and leave you needing to hire more people to complete the job?

We have compiled this simple questionnaire that you can use to rate your potential AV Consultants’ capabilities to know if they are a good fit for your project. 

When you start your project, will the Consultant provide you with working Proof of Concepts for all critical equipment before moving on to the design?

Most Consultants will skip this step. They don’t have the experience, staff, or knowledge to complete a Proof of Concept. By the time the project Owners get to see, hear, or touch the systems for the first time, it’s already too late. The Consultant is gone and the system has been installed. To change anything, it requires too much time and money, and the Owners are stuck with it until their next tech refresh.

Quince Imaging supports the “Vision Lab” approach to design. Just after meeting with the stakeholders and creating our Project Scope, we stand up a Proof of Concept that puts our clients’ hands, eyes, and ears on all critical portions of their systems. When there are multiple products or manufacturers that meet the requirements, we present them all to our clients and help them make the right choices.

Does the AV Consultant have an in-house digital content and software development team?

Display systems are only as good as the content displayed on them. So how can a consultant correctly specify one, without knowing the other?

At Quince Imaging, our Creative Services team gets involved on day one and works hand in hand with the client, our engineering, and project management teams to ensure that the final product is content married with displays in perfect harmony.

We have developed unique content for projects including 3D, interactive, and augmented reality solutions that keep guests and passengers engaged and entertained in more than 15 countries.

As part of their contract, will the Consultant provide you with highly detailed Drawings and Scope of Work Narrative for your project?

Many consulting firms believe they can design a project, then leave it up to the integrators to figure out how to bid it and make it work. Some won’t even put specific manufacturers or part numbers in their drawings. They believe that “leaving gray areas gives the integrators flexibility”. Some also think that specifying a particular manufacturer violates some sort of contracting rules. They don’t care, or take responsibility, for the fact that these gray areas can result in the wrong equipment being sold and installed, leading to massive change orders, or a system that does not meet the owner’s needs.  

At Quince, representing the Project Owner is our number one priority. We don’t leave gray areas. We help our clients pick the best solution for their project. Then, we build the right drawings and documentation to ensure that they get what they need. 

Does the Consultant provide a detailed budget estimate that includes a complete materials and labor breakdown? Do they guarantee the accuracy of their estimates?

Estimating project budgets requires a lot of experience to get correct. It takes a thorough knowledge of construction and integration techniques, labor costing in the location of the project, and being able to negotiate with vendors and manufacturers on behalf of the Owner. We have seen “technology consultants” be off by as much as 40% on their projects’ estimated budgets. What recourse do they give their clients?  

At Quince, our project teams are highly skilled at estimating project budgets. We have successfully done so in more than 15 countries. Our typical delta is usually less than 5%. We stand behind our projected budget numbers with a promise that if our estimates are not within the acceptable margins in our contract, you will receive 50% off your total fees. 

Has your Engineer designed at least (3) systems of like size and scope to the ones on your project?

This ensures the Engineer’s ability to fully understand the complexity of your project. Sure, most AV Systems are similar in the types of equipment they might use, but designing the AV for a conference room or classroom is very different from the systems used in an airport, theme park, stadium, or a performance venue. With over 100 years’ combined experience designing and managing projects globally, our engineering portfolios include international airports, museums and interactive exhibits, zoos, theme parks, stadiums and arenas, casinos, Fortune 500 corporations, performance venues, and dozens of mission critical facilities for local, state, federal agencies, and the DoD... nearly every type of AV project you can imagine! 

Has the engineer that will be assigned to you fabricated and installed AV Systems like those in your project before?

Oddly enough, there are many consulting firms that use engineers who have never installed a single piece of AV Equipment. They have never physically connected or programmed the systems that they are putting in your designs. So, how do they know the challenges the integrators will face when they are awarded the project? If they can’t foresee the challenges, how can they help you accurately build your budget or timeline?

At Quince we only hire Engineers and Project Managers that have previously worked in the field on AV projects. Our teams’ experience and skill are our primary method of ensuring that our client’s projects are a success.

Does the Engineer for your project have personal experience using and testing the equipment they are specifying on the Project?

Many consulting firms use Engineers that design from the manufacturers’ cutsheets and website information versus their personal hands-on experience with the equipment. If the Engineer doesn’t know how to use the equipment they are specifying, how can they expect the integrators or the project owner to understand it?  

At Quince, our engineers are required to personally test and demonstrate all major system components to ensure that they are the best solution for your project. When applicable, we also require our engineers to have manufacturers’ certifications. Because we know how it works, you have our guaranty that it will work for you! 

Does the Consultant have a qualified AV Project Manager to oversee your project?

Most consulting firms have yet to realize that AV is a unique niche of technology design. They think that their security, IT, or telecom PMs can easily handle an AV project just because it may plug into a network port. Often, they hire PMs with no experience in the field at all. If the PM doesn’t have experience in installing audio-visual equipment, how can they guarantee the Owner that the project is being installed correctly?  

At Quince, the Project Manager assigned to oversee your project will never have less than (5) years’ experience as an Audio-Visual Project Manager. On top of that, our PMs are required to have spent a minimum of (5) years as a technician in the field installing AV equipment on large commercial projects. 

Will the Consultant serve as your Owner’s Representative throughout the project?

Many technology consultants operate under the “design and done” principle. They dump a design package on the Owner and expect them to sort it out from there. They don’t have skilled AV Project Managers on staff. This often leads to confusion during the bid process and nobody working to ensure that the Owner’s original requirements are fulfilled.  

At Quince Imaging, serving as the Owner’s Representative is part of every design. The staff assigned to your project will have a minimum of (5) years working as an AV Project Manager. At the start, we work with you to build to build the requirements of your project. Then, we stand with you and for you to prequalify bidders, guarantee the RFQ/RFP process runs smoothly, negotiate pricing, build integrator contracts, oversee the integrators, and perform the final QA punch-list and signoff. We aren’t done until you are happy.  

Does the Consultant have experience in Qualifying Integration Contractors?

Sadly, many consultants believe all AV equipment and contractors are created equal. They don’t believe in helping the Owner with building the right RFQ/RFP documentation to guarantee that only technically qualified bidders are allowed to compete on the project. They believe that because a project may have to be awarded to the lowest bidder, that means there can’t be any qualification requirements for the integrators. This is just plain lazy consulting.

At Quince, we encourage an open and competitive bid process for our clients. However, to ensure that only qualified and capable integrators are part of the competition, prior to the release of bid docs, we spend a lot of time and effort pre-qualifying potential bidders to match the right integrators to our projects. We build and circulate digital pre-qualification forms to every integrator that we feel is a potential successful candidate based on location, staffing qualifications, certifications in the specified equipment, successes on like projects, etc. By specifying and vetting qualifications prior to release of bid docs, we protect our clients from failed integrations, delays, and change orders.

Does the Consultant have experience with writing and enforcing Audio-Visual as a Service (AVaaS) Contracts?

AV systems are expensive! Often the cost shocks Owners into reducing the scope of their Project and giving up functionality because of budget. There is an alternative.

The rapidly emerging trend in Audio-Visual procurement is Audio-Visual as a Service, or AVaaS. While it is not for every Project, it is becoming more and more popular. In this procurement model, a Project can “lease” the equipment it needs, and often get long-term service and maintenance agreements built into the cost. The Owner gets everything they want, and the cost is split across a three-to-five-year Operational Expense (OPEX) contract versus a major one-time Capital Expense (CAPEX).

At Quince we have over a decade of experience writing and managing AVaaS contracts. We can even help support our client’s projects after integration by providing technical staffing and remote monitoring and management of their systems.


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