Technology managers in higher education are asked to do many things and expected to do all of them well. The list continues to grow, encompassing technology management, project management, system design, installation, support, event support, budgeting, procurement, networking and training. We are expected to have the breadth of knowledge of what some organizations might consider multiple job lines — yet frequently encounter users, staff and faculty who regard us as the people who bring in the overhead projectors (those days are long gone). Here are three ways a consultant can be a big help as you deploy new technology, manage the technology, keep projects flowing and keep users happy.
1) Keeping Contracts and Costs in Line
Toward the end of the fiscal year and the budgeting period for the next year, technology managers often experience a near constant barrage of quote requests as departments look to shift their remaining funds into small equipment and unload it into AV installs. There are a number of basic ways a consultant can help you as this period approaches.
First, your consultant can help you create a standard “scope of work” (SoW) template that encapsulates the work you need to have quoted, which can be modified for the requirements of a particular room. The majority of the SoW “boilerplate” remains the same from room to room; the only things that change are the equipment list and the specifics of the design. At that point, the SoW becomes a contract document between the school and the AV integrator, so having a consultant write it and the school’s procurement department approve it is important.
The consultant can also create an opinion of probable cost (OPC), which saves you the time of having to get bids from multiple integrators, doing all that work upfront and frequently wasting everyone’s time as the project never moves forward. Having an OPC from a third party is also helpful due to the fact that it wasn’t created by your internal staff. In some users’ eyes, that carries more weight.
Lastly, a consultant can be a second pair of eyes in reviewing the quotes you’ve received — and will probably catch 99 percent of the potential issues. Many technology managers find there are relatively few others on campus who can be relied upon to go through an AV install quote and actually catch the issues. How many people have the expertise to notice that the quote missed an input card on the matrix switcher or that you’re over your POE budget on the switch?