How long should it take to properly implement a digital signage system?”
1) Implementing a digital signage system always takes longer than expected. Tools have become so much better, and there is little left that could be considered “rocket science,” but I would start with the answer, it will always take longer than you hoped or have planned. Simple explanation: Digital signage is not a box that you buy. Even small digital signage implementations contain elements of the digital signage ecosystem. The most consistent reason that digital signage takes longer than expected is content. Once the client realizes (and we can all hope this does happen) that digital signage content is very different than other advertising content, the creation and delivery of that content just takes longer than expected.
2) Clear statement of work always helps prevent surprises. The best thing an integrator and customer can do to accurately predict how long a digital signage implementation will take is to prepare a comprehensive Statement of Work. To develop a good statement of work for a digital signage implementation, start with the question, “What is the value proposition for this investment?” If you and your customer cannot identify a measurable value proposition, then this digital signage implementation will most certainly fall short of its potential. After the value proposition has been clearly articulated, it should be committed it to paper. The Statement of Work should include key components like: Content (who will create, and when will that be finished), Connectivity (is the network connectivity in place, or when will it be in place), Content Management Software (the integrator MUST provide a demo of the CMS, and the customer MUST recognize what they are committing to and that they have committed to have the right people who are willing to commit to near-term and long-term timely management of the content. Logistics: When will the physical area(s) be available for installation? (Never under estimate the challenges of scheduling installation to match availability, especially in retail DS projects).
3) Don’t assume it will all just work out. Digital signage projects often take months to close, and an integrator can easily miss installation target dates by assuming the make and model displays or players that were available just 90 days ago or even just 30 days ago may prove to be a big surprise and time delay. Our industry is notorious for model changes and lack of inventory. Before you commit to a timeline, be sure you have confirmed availability of hardware. The same would be true if you have engaged a graphic creation person to help with content internally or externally. Always do a quick check to see if there is still an opening for your project in their schedule. Digital signage implementation can be effected greatly and delayed by both of these critical components. Simply stated, check and double-check the resources on which you are depending.
I have not provided a specific number of hours or days to complete a digital signage implementation because every project will be unique. Instead, the foregoing provides key elements that greatly impact timelines, such as how long it takes a customer to commit to a project (which always seems to be longer than expected.) Factor into your estimate 25 to 30 percent longer than you would ordinarily expect. Be careful not to commit to timelines before careful reflection on the three specific gotchas above.