Ask the Board – September 18, 2017 | JOHN BAILEY


What are some common pitfalls that can cause integration to go over budget?”

There are plenty of risks to any technology project including the following that I have seen that seem to be all too common pitfalls:

– Design dependency omissions. Technology integration for digital signage typically requires more than just a technology partner: You may also need electrical power, conduit, cable support and pathways, structural modifications, IT infrastructure and environmental modifications. An all-inclusive design and project plan should account for all of these costs, but requirements are sometimes missed, or you might not have a design consultant or design/build firm helping you map out the requirements and costs. A complete and detailed design will help owners avoid unbudgeted costs.

– Lack of a detailed scope of work. Starting a major integration project without a clearly defined and detailed scope of work is a classic recipe for cost overruns. You know what they say about assumptions, and often times what you might “assume” is included in your project is actually not accounted for. I advise customers to never start a project with only an equipment list and associated labor cost on a quotation. A thorough description of exactly what is included in a final price is critical to ensuring your project stays on budget.

– Product changes. On projects with a long integration schedule, product changes and model changes can cause unexpected change orders and cost increases. Although technology, such as displays, generally drops in cost over time, model changes can often cause unexpected increases. This is especially true with architecturally integrated technology where exact dimensions are critical for integration. This type of increase is also common when low-cost consumer displays are specified, because they change models several times a year and equivalently sized displays may cost more.

– Owner Furnished Equipment. The road to cost overruns is often paved with the best of intentions. Reusing and repurposing existing equipment can seem like a good way to save some money, but all too often this can actually result in unforeseen cost increases. Repurposed equipment must be moved, stored, and readily available at the time of installation. Along the way it is highly susceptible to damage as original packaging is no longer available. If the equipment is not available when it’s needed, that can increase labor costs. And probably most importantly… if the devices aren’t fully detailed by accurate model number and quantities, you may find that other equipment such as mounts or cable types aren’t compatible resulting in unforeseen costs.

– Project Delays. They say time is money, and schedule changes can often cause cost increases even if the total number of screens remains the same. For example, schedule compression is common in construction projects where many trades are working and are dependent on each other to make progress. With technology often being the “caboose on the construction train,” you may find that delays early in a project can cause cost overruns later in the schedule. If an integrator is forced to work overtime to meet your deadline because of construction delays, you can expect a change order and a cost increase.

We’ve all heard that “perfect planning prevents poor performance.” There are a couple of different versions of that old adage, but the basic principle holds true. The more time you put into the planning and preparation, the better your chance is of executing a project on time and on budget.

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Vice President of Technology

Integrator Council

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