Ask the Board – October 28, 2019 | RALPH SCHORBACH


“What are effective cost-reduction strategies that can be employed with digital signage to keep your capital investment and maintenance low?”

No matter what you do in digital signage or how fancy you get, it always seems to fall back on funding and expenses. With our ever-shrinking budgets, we struggle sometimes to make the digital ends meet. These limited resources cause us to come up with interesting solutions to make things happen.

There are several cost-saving approaches that I’ve used, and I believe are guidelines to keep expenditures to a minimum:

–         Consider lower-cost hardware. Do you really need that all-temp weather-rated display or just a commercial monitor? You can probably replace the commercial grade unit five times for the cost of an outdoor-rated display.

–          Learn and maintain your own CMS, or farm it out. Determine whichever is more cost effective for your organization.

–          Negotiate up front for savings. Once you’ve made a purchase, there is no motivation for a vendor to give a deal for add-on purchases. However, if they are customer-oriented and good to work with, there is a chance they may extend that courtesy.

–          Ask for a 0% lease. A lot of companies are doing more to get business, and 0 percent is a great way to extend out payments and make it easier on upfront cash outlay.

–          What services will your installer/distributor/VAR throw into the deal?  Many have resources within their own organizations or have industry contacts they can bring in who would be willing to help you get your project completed. From my experience, the more a vendor can do as a single point of contact with added services, the better they are to work with. They spent all this time working with and learning your business. Even I know they don’t want another vendor potentially taking away business. It is all about scratching everyone’s back (am I dating myself here, and is it still politically correct?).

–          In-house facility department. If you can schedule the work early enough, they are a great resources and you can work closely with them as the project progresses on adjustments without huge revision or add-on costs.

–          Design and maintenance. This one is my biggest pet peeves. How many times do you have a great looking design set up perfectly, until you have to fix something? Then it seems you have to take apart the wall or rent a boom-lift that costs more than the device you are replacing. Keep everything simple and easy to maintain, and replace with off-the-self products that are readily available. Avoid the pain and 12-week lead-time.

–          Consider buying or re-using gently used products.  For a lot of office gear, everyone wants the newest and fastest desktop PC. Why not take that three-year old PC, which still has a two-year warranty and incorporate it into your digital signage network? The same would go with conference room displays. If management wants the latest and biggest display with which to impress the client, why not take that “old” 70-inch and move it over to your digital world. One of the great display scores I got was at our on-property hotel, where the new in-room system displays weren’t software compatible, so my department became the happy recipient of 100+ displays that work great and provide a “spares” pool that will last me for years to come.

–          Some additional cost savings ideas

o   Pick up the product yourself, typically located at a warehouse in the next town, that can save you $25-$75 per display if you can get access to a truck, not to mention you will get them quicker.

o   Sub-contract some local help. If you have the project under control, but just need bodies to hang and plug in, freelance and contract labor is a great option.

o   Tele-design, there is always someone who knows more than you, if you can find them and they can design software, layouts, loops, etc. from their home you will get a better deal, in most cases better results and limit the amount you pay for travel expenditures.

o   Time management, avoid cost over-runs and those “oh-heck” (being nice here) moments by procrastinating, lack of planning and not enough information bringing everyone into the know.

Digital signage is your realm, and people need to respect that.  Managing digital signage projects is like managing a business. You need to understand every step, watch and be part of every process and every screw that gets installed to make sure you keep capital investment and costs to a minimum.  In the end, it makes you more valuable, and we can all use more job security.

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IT Manager

End User Council

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