Proactive Planning for AVL Upgrades

Posted on Sep 21, 2022 11:49:03 AM

Churches track numbers and plan on growth. Whether it’s knowing how to squeeze a few more seats into the Sanctuary for Easter, the number of volunteers needed to watch all the children in the nursery, or the exact number of crock-pots that can be plugged into a single electrical circuit in the Fellowship Hall, conversations happen all the time about Growth and Planning.

But when was the last conversation your team had about an AVL Growth and Upgrade Plan?

Technology constantly evolves. Every few months a new gadget is released to help resolve a specific problem. However as an industry, products that revolutionize the Audio, Video or Lighting market are released every 8 to 10 years. These products help shape how technology can be used and add features that were once limited to pipe dreams. But eventually, those dreams become reality and the gear of the past no longer meets current standards. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan for long-term upgrades.

With more than 20 years of experience, MediaMerge sees two primary timelines for upgrades: Short-Term and Long-Term. And both require unique Action Plans.

Short-Term Updates include software updates or simple hardware additions to expand your system’s capabilities. In most environments, software products and hardware devices will be eligible for firmware releases every few months. Some of these updates specifically address network security, while others unlock additional functionality. Either way, it’s imperative to maintain a Short-Term Update Plan. This should occur on a regular interval (Quarterly perhaps) and at least include:

Short-Term Update Plan

  • Verify that all devices have Automatic Updates DISABLED.
    Nobody wants to discover a compatibility issue or have a machine to reboot mid-service because of an Automatic Update.
  • Clean up files or information stored within the Software or Hardware.
    When’s the last time you deleted old files from ProPresenter, or old Macros/Still Store Captures from your Switcher???
  • Save External Backups of the Software or Hardware being updated.
    Keep backups on a dedicated thumb drive, or upload to cloud storage.
  • Firmware Updates - Check the date on the Firmware Release.
    If it’s only been out a few days, wait at least another week before updating. Let other people find bugs and glitches. Personally, I wait at least 4 weeks before updating anything Service-Critical.
    *Pro Tip: Update early in the week to provide as much time as possible to test on your specific setup.
  • Consider additional functionality needs.
    Would an additional speaker zone in the Lobby make a dramatic improvement? Would a TV in the Cafe allow the team serving to watch service? Would a portable intercom setup allow the Producer to move freely between the FOH, Broadcast and Video booths?
    For more tips on Thinking Outside of the Box, check out this article and recommendation: Get Out Of The Booth.

Maintaining a structured Short-Term Update Plan ensures that your devices give you as much functionality as possible while also keeping those devices secure from any digital threats. One of the first questions that a Tech Support Rep from the manufacturer will ask is to Update Firmware, so this can save valuable time if an issue does ever occur.

While implementing and continuing a recurring Short-Term Update Plan, it is also important to consider a Long-Term Upgrade Plan. This will include hardware replacement, large-scale additions to the existing system or any other upgrades that require a significant monetary investment or an extended amount of time to complete. Generally, MediaMerge recommends a Long-Term Upgrade Plan that outlines an 8-10 Year Tech Roadmap. This allows enough time to spread substantial investments into Audio, Video and Lighting technologies into different fiscal years. Use the information below to start the process.

Long-Term Upgrade Plan

  • Plan on Mid-Level Device Upgrades every 5 or so years.
    Most often these are the devices directly used by volunteers and may include computers, cameras or other devices that constantly improve as time progresses. This ensures that the most critical devices are kept in peak shape and provide the best performance possible. It also allows progressive improvements over time instead of implementing sweeping changes to the volunteers and congregation with a Full Scale Overhaul.
    Generally, devices that are 5 years old still have “life left” and can be great additions to Youth spaces, Classrooms or Offices that don’t require the newest gear. But in 5 years time, there will be a noticeable improvement in speed, quality and reliability for your most critical positions.
  • Plan on Infrastructure Upgrades every 8-10 years.
    This would include Audio and Lighting consoles, Video Switchers/Routers, Network Switches, etc. Typically, these devices are the “brains” of the system and are built to be robust and highly reliable. However, in the span of 10 years, technology will increase dramatically and current technology will pale in comparison. 
    Again, these systems may be reusable in another space. Or you may also consider the resale value on the Used Market for church plants or smaller congregations looking to improve their systems.

For assistance putting together a complete Technology Roadmap for your church, Schedule a Free Virtual Consultation with one of the MediaMerge Team Members today.

We take this seriously at MediaMerge. We consider planning and preparation an essential part of stewardship. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the investments our church-partners make into technology systems by helping them properly maintain equipment and assist with upgrading or replacing service-critical gear prior to catastrophic failure. Executing this goal effectively requires advanced planning and intentionality to help prepare for future expenditures and reduce the likelihood of potential issues that negatively impact the congregation. 

If your Audio, Video or Lighting Systems are approaching end-of-life or lack the functionality you need, Contact MediaMerge today so that we can help put together the best system possible to accomplish your vision.

Topics:AVL technologiesChurch Sound SystemsLEDdisplaysChurch LeadershipSound BoothsBudgeting

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