2020 can be considered another year of disruption for the AV industry when taking stock of the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, making compliance all the more critical for AV leaders. This disruption, combined with the shift of AV technology to the mainstream of corporate and educational cultures, has seen the cost of poor quality, defects, lost hours, rework and exceed $15 billion annually. Enter: AQAV, the industry solution to containing and controlling these rising costs through consistent quality.
So, what is AQAV? AQAV stands for the Association for Quality in Audiovisual and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to improving the operational art of designing and installing audiovisual technology. Their quality assurance program – AV9000 — helps integrators focus on the quality management of their systems, benefitting the AV industry at large.
Vistacom has been an AQAV member since 2013 and successfully completed their AV9000 compliance in 2017, joining the ranks of the elite in AV integration by becoming only the third systems integration company in the country to demonstrate commitment to quality on behalf of customers by applying the metrics in the AV9000 Standard.
To retain this designation, Vistacom must submit an annual report to AQAV consisting of a portfolio on six projects and their entire process from beginning to completion. Vistacom leaders then have a live review with AQAV, consisting of a Q&A session. If each of those six projects passes AQAV’s inspection, Vistacom retains its compliance designation; if deficiencies are found, a performance improvement plan is put in place with a time limit of 90 days to make any needed corrections.
In addition to maintaining AV9000 compliance since 2017, Vistacom has also won two AQAV awards in the years since: Director of Technology, Matt Boyer received AQAV’s 2016 Quality Champion Award; Tom Iasiello, Vistacom’s Director of Managed Services, was named AQAV’s Quality Champion as part of the 2018 AQAV Awards Program.
How AV9000 Compliance Translates in a COVID-19 Environment
With social distancing measures still in place, Vistacom has innovated its installation process while adhering to AV9000 compliance initiatives. On the operations side, a living checklist is in use consisting of separate sections for each department and step in the process that is involved in the project from concept to completion. Each milestone must be completed before moving to the next; ensuring only the highest degree of quality is completed and accounted for at every step of the process.
When it comes time for installation, systems are configured and built in the shop first. By configuring and building as much of the system as possible in the Vistacom shop, Vistacom is able to significantly reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by reducing time at the customer’s site – saving everyone time and money in the process. Once built, customers are invited to a Factory Acceptance Test in which project stakeholders and end users come together to test, inspect, and accept the system, ensuring that the technology and it’s operation are functioning exactly as expected. The customer has the chance to make any changes or suggestions before the Vistacom installation team begins mobilizing on site – introducing another extensive set of quality assurance checklists to the installation process.
One major concern from clients in the industry is, “Are you actually done installing my system?” Warranty service calls are historically bountiful in the AV industry — but AV9000 compliance has the ability to significantly reduce those.
From 2017-2019, the total number of worked service warranty hours has decreased by over 24% since Vistacom’s implementation of the AV9000 quality compliance process, leading to more satisfied customers who can have peace of mind that their technology will continue to work as expected for years to come.
AV9000 Compliance indicates an AV company that has effective quality management systems in place which assures products are deployed in the best possible manner, providing cost savings to all parties. This begs the question: if AV9000 compliance is so beneficial, why isn’t every AV integrator AQAV compliant? The answer is: The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to manage quality, and the more difficult it is for the organization to obtain full AQAV certification. It’s a big initiative and everyone — from top to bottom — has to be on board. While pursuing AV9000 compliance slows your process and revenue down initially, it soon balances itself out through happier customers, improved customer service, and less warranty service calls.
Currently, Vistacom is the only AV9000 compliant integrator in the country — a testament to our dedication to ever-improving quality. The AV9000 Compliant Certificate provides us with a compelling message to any prospective buyer that we manage our quality in accordance with state of the art monitoring and measuring techniques, which ultimately benefit the end user.
For more information about how Vistacom is constantly integrating new AV technology advancements in order to better serve our clients, visit us here.