CONTI Evolution in the Media

14 Hidden Costs of Audio Video Projects That You've Probably Not Considered

Colby Harder - Thursday, February 26, 2015

For nearly 15 years, I've been working on project across North America.  As with any business decision, cost of execution and fulfillment is always (and should always) be top of mind with our clients. I coach clients to also ensure that they account for all "hidden" costs of project execution.   Some of these are specific to audio video projects, but many are universal with any project.  I present them to you for your own consideration.

Navy Emergency Operations Centre


1. The Cost of Ineffective Purchasing

Most companies work hard to create a competitive environment within their suppliers.  This is the prudent approach.  Get three quotes, compare the quotes, and make a decision.  Unfortunately, I meet clients on a monthly basis who have suffered from Ineffective Purchasing.  They've got a great deal on the wrong product, or wrong solution.  If your purchasing isn't driven by a detailed specification that is connected to your business objectives, then it's destined for failure. 

2. The Cost of Multiple Suppliers

Some companies choose to split up work amongst multiple suppliers.  This is inefficient and kills project accountability.  By choosing a provider that can provide the most number of functions for your business, you can create a well integrated supplier relationship that is built upon solid advice and accountability.  You will drastically cut down on the number of meetings you need to have, the decisions you need to make, the PO's you need to create, and the number of invoices you need to manage - all direct and measurable savings to your business.

Brand Curated Music and Video

3. The Cost of Conflicting Design

Many of the projects we work on will seek to integrate multiple business systems.  Unfortunately, but utilizing multiple uncoordinated suppliers, you most often face conflicting designs.  A unified systems design will seek to streamline the integration between your network, Wi-Fi, audio, video, CCTV, background music, and other critical business systems.  A holistic approach will seek to meld these all into a cohesive single and complementary design and then meld that technical design with the physical space, décor, and other critical factors to ensure project success.  This deliver far better results, and also reduced the number of decisions, meetings, and paperwork required to execute.  Again, all measureable savings.

4. The Cost of Failed Rollouts

Rollouts are a complicated and varied undertaking.  We work on national rollouts across North America.  Whether multiple systems in a large local campus, or projects spread across the continent as part of a larger project, these rollouts require planning, hand holding, and knowledge to execute.  The devil is in the details.  Many clients opt to undertake this rollout management using internal resources.  This simply taxes the internal resources with a field of expertise there are rarely familiar with.  The results can be significant amounts of lost productivity, lost employee productivity, or worse.

5. The Cost of Poor Documentation

Most people could not foresee building a home without a detailed architectural plan, yet every day we see customers attempt to execute complicated and complex audio video and business systems, (many with literally thousands of wiring connections and impacts on physical space and network)  rollouts with poor or non-existent documentation.  The documentation ensures all trades are aligned and that every detail is accounted for.  Lack of documentation routinely results in thousands of dollars in rework, damaged systems, and lost staff productivity.  Direct measurable savings.

6. The Cost of Inconsistency

Imagine if every car you hopped in had different controls.  This is the approach that  many companies utilize when deploying audio video systems.  The best companies in the world seek to achieve a singular and consistent operations interface. This allows any employee, partner, or clients to hop onto the system and operate it in an intuitive and effective manner.  Inconsistency results in drastic losses in employee productivity, service costs, and reduce operational effectiveness.


Leading Restaurant Chain with

locations across North America

7. The Cost of Poor Support

I use the term "support" here very purposefully.  Our work sees us provide both "technical support" and "user support".  A lack of support to clients in audio video and related systems can destroy employee productivity and faith in the very systems that have the power to greatly enhance their productivity.  Any effective plan for ongoing support (both internal and outsourced) should be a critical consideration of any audio video project.

8. The Cost of Slow Execution

Slow execution has a direct negative impact on your business productivity.  If you accept the premise that audio video systems are being installed in order to aid productivity, then their lack of operation due to delayed execution or failed execution has a direct impact on your business. 

9.The Cost of Non-Transparency

Transparency is critical in almost any productive relationship.  In the context of an audio visual project we believe that transparency drives efficiency and productivity.  Using a transparent approach to product pricing, services pricing, and conflict resolution on a project helps to drive efficiency and cost savings.  It  makes decision quicker, and more effective.  It also significantly reduces the administrative burden of project implementation. 

Public transit digital signage project


10.The Cost of Undefined Success

Without defining success, you will never know when you've arrived.  All too often, audio video projects are undertaken without any real sense of what success will look like.  Success on an audio video projects must be driven by well-articulated business objectives.  Clearly defining a success statement and a detailed scope of work can save your business thousands of dollars in miss-specified systems, unnecessary complexity, or systems that simply don't do what you want them to do.   I always tell clients that we can design the world's greatest system, but if it doesn't do the two things you need it to do, then it's a total waste of money.

11.The Cost of Complexity

The audio video industry is plagued by complexity.  Just because something is technically complicated, doesn't mean that it needs to be complex.  We view our role as being to deliver information to clients in a simple manner that aids in fast and effective decision making. Simplicity drives fast decisions, effective outcomes, and effective communications. 

12. The Cost of Poor Coordination

This one is quite simple.  We see poor coordination almost every day.  Every time an event is poorly coordinated, it creates wasted time and wasted materials in execution.  This wasted materials and execution will ultimately cost your business money. 

Retail Flagship Store with Branded Music and Video

13. The Cost of Poor Quality Control

Quality control is key.  No matter how great the craftsmanship on your new Rolls Royce, there was still a person and a process to check the work and ensure perfection.  The same must apply to your critical business systems.  Many of the world's leading customers insist upon this.  Many will hire one provider to fulfill the work, and a second independent provider to review and confirm the quality of their work.  This has a cost attached to it, but can save you tens of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, failed equipment and non-constructive meetings.

14. The Cost of Time Consumption

When many clients seek guidance on audio video systems they focus solely on the cost of equipment, and to a smaller extend the cost of services to deploy that equipment.  Rarely has a clients has every asked me how much of their time is going to be required to execute this project.  The world's most innovative companies calculate the internal cost of resources when determining best value.  One recent customer of ours opted to forego project management services on their project because they felt they could complete that phase themselves and hire a local independent supplier.  Not being subject matter experts in AV, the client's own project managers ended up consuming more than twice the time, at a higher cost than our management proposal.  The local vendor wasn't familiar with their corporate standards or practices and the project experienced cost over-runs and diminished value.  That doesn't even account for the lost opportunity that comes from those internal personnel not being focused on their core business.


Colby Harder is an entrepreneur, blogger, and the President of CONTI Evolution, an audio video advisory services firm that supports audio video projects across North America.  He has supported hundreds of audio video projects across North America and was recognized as one of Business in Vancouver's Forty under 40 business leaders in 2010.  CONTI Evolution delivers value to clients by helping them buy better, execute more efficiently, and optimize performance of audio, video, music, and complementary business systems.  Their project include work for global leaders and regional innovators including SAP, Department of National Defense, Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Victoria's Secret.