The Importance of Documentation

I was called today to come out and assess an audio problem.  An area mall was having some issue with their audio system and needed a trained ear to troubleshoot the problem.

The Operations Manager was very cordial and gave me a quick tour of the Electrical Room.  Inside was an audio video rack with a DMX head end, 2 BiAmp DSPs, and 3 Crown CTS8200 amplifiers.  Obviously I expected that there was a large 70 volt system in place, and that turned out to be the case.

So walking into a mall, owned by a major mall developer, and faced with a few hundred speaker AV system, I expected to find some formal documentation.  I mean, this company has malls all over.  They have to hire professionals and detail what is being installed for safety and maintenance purposes, right?

Well, there was some documentation alright.  The Operations Manager carefully unfolded his plan.  It was four (4) 8.5×11″ pieces of paper, Scotch taped together to make a 22×17 plan of the mall.  This 22×17 space included the first and second floors.  The plan had some marker colors on it that must have depicted the zones of audio, and a couple Sharpie lines.  I politely took a gander at the quote/unquote plan when it was presented to me, trying not to share anything too derogatory about its nature or potential accuracy.

The customer will now need to pay someone, likely us, to do a site survey and document what exists, how it is connected, and what works and what doesn’t.  This will cost them 2 man days of labor, just to walk the site and gather information, plus another fee to do the AV design for them.  Money that is wasted because the original firm failed to provide a decent record.

AV Integrators should all be providing real documentation on their jobs.  Whether it is in Visio, CAD, Stardraw etc, it makes your jobs serviceable, and creates a touch and feel to your service that it is hard for some others to recreate.  Doing the small things right upfront lay the groundwork for repeat business in the future.  Notice they did not call their last integrator back to get this evaluated.  They found a wholly new firm.


2 thoughts on “The Importance of Documentation

  1. avcuracy says:


    I couldn’t agree more, documentation lays the groundwork for great installation and support, but without follow through in the installation itself, and in your infrastructure to service the customer, there is no chance for success.

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