As your organisation’s reliance on collaboration infrastructure increases, the number of rooms that are needed to meet team requirements can quickly increase. Many large Indian enterprises have new deployments which involve the creation of more than a hundred rooms, with 200+ room projects becoming increasingly common. Creating and managing this kind of scale brings a new set of challenges for IT and Facilities teams, who need to ensure they get many decisions right.
As a user of such organisational infrastructure also, there are some challenges to consider. Imagine having to host an important meeting and finding yourself stuck with a conferencing system that you don’t know how to operate.
Establishing standards for AV and collaboration rooms is a good way for organisations and users to avoid these growing pains as their infrastructure grows.
Increasing reliance on collaboration infrastructure to maintain business continuity
For businesses operating across disparate locations, the idea is to work closely with efficient AV integration partners and build offices that have integrated standardised workplace technology solutions. This can result in a more robust collaboration infrastructure, and one that can be made more conducive for operation in various scenarios – WFH, hybrid or in-office.
Standardisation is critical to achieving cost and other efficiencies involved in building these rooms (more on this later) and also to simplify the planning and management. It creates a better user experience and set-up continuity and a consistent technology experience. Automation and control technologies can play an important role in the standardisation process to facilitate a seamless user experience.
But before we look into what entails the process of standardisation that is fast emerging as a trend due to a growing global footprint, let’s understand the benefits of implementing the AV technology and the chosen standardisation.
What are the benefits of standardisation for large organisations?
Standardisation for large organisations create a master template and span the planning, build/installation and post-deployment stages. Here are the key benefits of standardisation for large organisations.
If you don’t want productivity and user satisfaction to suffer, then planning ahead of time and evaluating the technology purchase estimation, can save time and money. It is much easier to estimate or create budgets for new infrastructure, as the hardware remains the same universally. Also, a standardised AV system entails less repair and easier troubleshooting, reducing the burden on IT teams, if you include a well-defined objective, at the planning stage, followed by a strategic decision.
With standardisation, you get a complete, enterprise-grade, highly reliable technology solution that meets the design and speccing requirements of the organisation at the desired quality levels. The speccing would include what’s important to improve room utilisation rates for employees in detailed standards documents explaining strict guidelines to adhere to. Room templates help individual room design and documents to be prepared quickly and accurately and reused for future deployments.
Equipment optimisation/Inventory planning
With centralised AV equipment, there is an improved user experience that leads to equipment optimisation. Also, centralised purchasing simplifies accounting and inventory management. We recommend that organisations invest in backup hardware, allowing for replacement or swapping if required. Additionally, thorough inventory planning will also help you identify isolated incompatible equipment and replace it with compatible equipment. Cost-benefits can be leveraged at the time of purchase of your equipment, by negotiating better deals for similar hardware mixes.
Thanks to standardised equipment, design and (ideal) room sizes, the time required to set up and integrate similar rooms can be optimised too. Using too many different models or systems can lead to compatibility issues. With overall standardization and centralization, it becomes quicker to deploy and everyone can be quickly and easily trained to set up and operate the equipment, along with increased interoperability and flexibility.
Easy and Cost-Effective Maintenance
Standardised infrastructure is simpler to manage as it allows IT teams across multiple locations to have more centralised control over maintenance. Support tasks like hardware fixes and software troubleshooting become hassle-free and faster.
Usability and room performance
It facilitates consistent user experience across rooms and locations and reduces the learning curve that comes every time there is a new piece of software or hardware to set up. Also, it opens the door to new collaboration opportunities. Besides, system glitches are easier to deal with as there is a structured AV standardisation plan to fall back to.
Should small/medium organisations standardise also?
SMEs may overcome several complexities and address the growing needs of an organisation through the more sustainable solution of standardisation. Standardisation brings several benefits to small and medium organisations including the efficiency of management and maintenance. It improves the innovative capabilities of the teams, reduces cost and boosts competitiveness while ensuring similar experiences across locations. Having said that, standardisation is highly contingent upon the budget availability and the urgency of the moment for the decision-makers.
In the longer run, the SMEs must recognise the value in implementing hardware, software, processes and technology updates and upgrades with the help of standardisation, as an established standardization structure will help growing businesses counter lags, save costs, enhance strategic viability and competitive advantage.
SMEs can opt for optimised VC performance with better acoustics and lighting in all rooms. Standardisation will ensure better usability across the enterprise and make it consistent and simpler to book, call and present. Besides, a standardisation process facilitates a sense of ease to plan and estimate when budgeting for rooms in new offices or meeting rooms.
What can be standardised in a typical collaboration room?
Standardisation of rooms in terms of their size, layout, appearance, user experience and the technology they employ can significantly reduce the complexity that your business has to deal with. Equipment, furniture, layouts and wiring are the key components to be standardised in a typical room for increased reliability and consistency. While doing this the room set-up and inventory of supplies and equipment must be standardized in each room.
- Room sizing standardisation at the outset makes many things simpler down the line. It more or less determines the room equipment, furniture, layouts and wiring.
- Room hardware standardisation is very important to core hardware (video/audio) optimised for room size – including things like camera, speakers, microphone, display and power.
However, it is also very beneficial to standardise secondary hardware (control/lighting) as this helps enhance usability and experience.
What is difficult to standardise in rooms?
As much as the process of standardisation reduces unnecessary variation, wastage of time and resources, and ensures uniformity and reliability across the enterprise, there can be certain challenges while standardising rooms.
Standardisation of the sizing of the rooms can be challenging for some organisations. This can be dealt with room size ranges (+/-20%) for similar room types. The impact differences can be reduced by standardising elements like room colours, furniture etc.
Which types of rooms are more suitable for standardising?
- Rooms that you create in large numbers will benefit more – like huddle rooms, e-learning rooms or collab rooms which usually make up a large number of projects nowadays.
- Larger rooms or more specialised rooms like boardrooms, multi-purpose rooms and training rooms often don’t end up being standardised, however, these can also be standardised if the need be.
- Certain kinds of rooms (not created in large numbers), like a cafeteria-cum-town-hall space may not need to be standardized and a divisible partition can be a more effective solution there.
Comparison table (running a new project with and without standardisation)
|Stakeholders||Without reference standards||When standards are in place|
|For planning teams||It can lead to a big lapse in communication and collaboration between teams that are operating from multiple locations. Also, the user experience will remain inconsistent||It will help accommodate future device changes, upgrades, or modifications in the work process for organisational teams spread across disparate locations|
|For implementation or installation teams||In the absence of a cohesive system comprising uniform hardware, software, and operating systems, fixing problems and optimising efficiency can be a complex task||It is more hassle-free as there are pre-established variations in system types, equipment and functionality|
|For the IT or facilities teams||It puts more burden on IT and facilities teams with the increasing demand for managing with a few resources||It makes it easier for IT teams to troubleshoot as there is the same design and functionality|
|For the room users||Users can experience a lack of seamlessness as in the absence of standardisation there is less reliability, scalability and consistency||No last-minute glitches or unpleasant surprises during an important call or meeting as standardisation facilitates consistency in user experience|
Is standardisation practical in revamps/retro-fits — or only in new builds?
Whether it is conferencing, meeting, onboarding, training or monitoring, standardisation is easier to do in new fit-outs as everything can be set at the outset. However, this can be more challenging to undertake in retrofits to some extent.
One of the challenges could be the structure of the building that is old and inflexible making it difficult to retrofit. It is not uncommon for old buildings to have incomplete blueprints or improper/missing documentation, and the only solution to this would be to send someone on-site to regenerate the entire documentation to get a comprehensive idea of how the equipment and machinery work and the building operates.
The best way that organisations can achieve room size standardisation in such circumstances may be by using new partitions to reconfigure existing rooms and increase mobility.
Adding new components (hardware and/or software) to a property can entail additional challenges for the integration teams in a bid to create an immersive and collaborative environment in a cost-effective way.
In most retrofit situations, a flexible hardware and software platform needs to be integrated with the existing ones (mostly obsolete systems), which have usually run their course of life. Besides, it can be tricky to interface with old, barely functional equipment using modern technology. However, on-site visits by integration specialists to gauge existing infrastructure along with a massive hardware overhaul and fine-tuning can counter these challenges and turn out to be a game-changer for the organisations for improved collaboration and better user experiences.
Some guidelines for getting standardisation right
- The senior management, cross-functional teams like Facilities, IT, Marketing and HR, as well as the Interior Designer need to be roped in so that there is complete buy-in and facilities are built with standardisation in mind right from the start.
- Ideally the same set of designers, consultants and integrators should be involved in implementing the standardised projects.
- It is important to take the time and effort to conduct POCs/Prototype the room to ensure that it works well in practice
- It will be helpful to ensure that the AV experience is of high quality and consistent across rooms for the senior management, cross-functional teams like facilities, IT, Marketing and HR.
- Understand the priorities of users to ensure these are addressed in your standards.
Get enterprise standards in place ASAP
The varied benefits of standardisation make it invaluable for large enterprises because they help smoothen the process of new room deployments. Besides these guidelines, you can effectively reduce the number of steps and people involved in the process, while also improving the turnaround time by having experts tackle the whole process of AV overhaul, train the staff on technical know-how and facilitate user adoption, successfully.