Field Guid to AVL Renovations: Commissioning

Well, this turned out to take longer to get through than I expected. But here we are, at the final post and the final stage of the project. After figuring out the system objectives, developing an initial budget, landing on key technologies, working out the design, installing the gear, it’s finally time to fire it up and see if it all works. 

This is probably my favorite part of the job, to be honest. I love seeing the gear light up and enjoying the fruits of our labor. And in most projects, there is a lot of labor…

It might be too late to bring this up, but I feel it is important to raise the question, why do churches like to launch a new campus—with all the new technology, processes and people—on big weekends like Christmas and Easter? I certainly get the concept. Those are the biggest weekends of the year, and great ways to build momentum. 

However, it’s pretty rare to spend months on a project, weeks of install and perhaps a week to get everything talking and not have any issues. Even if the installers did their job perfectly and all the gear works, chances are, your tech crews will still be getting used to the new system. Your band may need some time on a new personal monitor mixer. Even your kids ministry may benefit from a weekend or two to get up to speed on a new check-in process.

A Modest Proposal

Instead of making the first weekend in the new or newly remodeled space one of the biggest of the year, why not plan on having the project done a few weeks early so you can work the bugs out? This is a good idea for many reasons. For starters, you’ll likely have a lot of guests on that big weekend. You want their first experience with the church to be a good one. Give your teams the chance to make it a great experience. 

You may also find that the initial tuning of the PA wasn’t quite right once the band and congregation got in the room. Having a week or two to really dial that in will make it better for all. A soft launch gives all your teams time to adapt to the new environment, which will enable them to be more friendly and helpful on the big weekend. 

Get Some Help

As with design and installation, having some help for commissioning the system is a great idea. Your integrator will likely want to turn the key for the first time to make sure all is well and you’re happy. On complex installs, you may also get manufacturer support. 

Commissioning is a great time to learn all you can about the new gear. As a tech, you should be there as much as possible while they get things set up. Ask questions, look over their shoulders and pay attention. After they leave, you’ll be responsible for running and maintaining the system, so you’d better know it reasonably well. 

It might also be a good idea to work into the contract to have the integrator send someone back down a few weeks or a month after opening weekend to tweak, adjust and train. Sometimes you’ll have questions after a weekend or two that you didn’t have at first. Having someone come back a few weeks later will ensure that you are really up to speed on everything. And if the PA needs to be tweaked a bit, that’s a great time to do it.

Ultimately, your integrator and manufacturers want you to be happy with the install. If you have issues, make sure to bring them up and give them a chance to fix them before going nuclear on social media. Good integrators will be very reasonable to deal with and make sure your experience is a good one. 

The End?

This may be the end of this series, but the story goes on. It’s rare that a church buys AVL equipment only one time, or never remodels their building. I strongly suggest doing a de-brief after the project is done to see what you can learn to do better next time. There will be a next time, and you owe it to yourself and future staff to get better each time. A remodel project is not a small undertaking, there will be bumps along the way. But when you approach it with the right attitude and open communication, it can be a great experience. Hopefully this guide has been helpful.

If you want to see all the posts in this series, click here. They’re in reverse order due to the way Squarespace sorts posts, but at least they’re all in one list. Enjoy, and happy remodeling.

Roland

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