Case Study Details

Columbia Advisory Group Audio/Visual Services Saves Texas A&M University System campuses over $3.2 million during A/V redesign

One of the common errors that many organizations make when it comes to technology implementations is over-engineering the solution.  In the midst of trying to solve a particular problem, it can be very easy to overshoot the mark and end up with something that is unnecessarily complicated, expensive, or bloated.  In the moment this doesn’t feel like a major problem but it’s something that unwinds over time.  Your resources are constrained and any misalignment or deployment to something that doesn’t deliver ROI incurs an opportunity cost of what you could have done with that money.

This is especially prevalent in the education industry where budgets are notoriously tight and you have to make the most out of every dollar.  Yet, we see overinvestment everywhere that we look – putting unnecessary pressure on the financial stability of the organization.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at a case study where we saved one of our clients over $3.2m with some early interventions relating to equipment scope.

The Perils of Overinvestment

Texas A&M University was looking to renovate two key buildings and install state-of-the-art A/V equipment to make for a better learning environment.  As they set out to plan their construction efforts, they engaged with a design firm to help them execute their vision.  This firm suggested various technological improvements that the client then brought to us for technical review.

Upon looking through the plans, we identified that in many cases, the solution was over-engineered, going well beyond what the university actually needed.  By taking our time to understand the real needs of the different buildings and their context, we were able to suggest scope reductions that drastically reduced the cost of the new implementations.

Some of our recommendations included the following:

  • We suggested that classroom recording equipment was only installed in certain rooms rather than every single classroom.  The reality was that instructors only recorded in certain rooms anyway, so being more precise with where this equipment was created major savings.
  • Instead of complex, non-uniform, expensive projectors, we suggested a more affordable and uniform solution that could still deliver the required quality but at a fraction of the cost.  In addition to the obvious financial benefit, this also made sure that instructors only had to learn one system which makes for better sustainability over the long term.
  • We simplified the controls in each room with a less complex setup that focused only on the key features that actually mattered.
  • We removed the wireless video matrix from the scope, instead going for a lower cost option that still provided the same capability.
  • For those learners with hearing disabilities, we suggested that they utilize portable assisted listening devices rather than installing the systems into the infrastructure of each room.
  • We suggested that specific rooms be designated as distance learning environments, rather than trying to transform every room.  This practicality saves a lot of money and reduces the ongoing maintenance required.
  • Reducing the size of the TVs in study halls and rooms according to the size of the room itself proved to be a valuable reduction in cost.
  • Changing touch monitors to touch projectors where it made sense also helped to reduce the complexity and associated capital investment.
  • We adjusted the speaker quality in each room to better match the acoustics and deliver best-practice sound more uniformly.
  • We noticed a couple of rooms were missing key A/V accessories and we managed to avoid problems down the line by bringing this to the attention of the client early.

These examples show how some simple changes can transform the technological investment that you make as an organization.  Looking at these plans and providing expert feedback, we were able to save our client millions of dollars while simultaneously creating a more standardized learning environment that was much more robust to change.

This all goes to show that it’s not always about getting the best of the best for the sake of it.  Thoughtful investment comes down to understanding the objectives and engineering a solution that matches those.  Overcomplicating things only ends up hurting your budget.

Selecting A/V Equipment That is Fit For Purpose

We pride ourselves on creating highly bespoke A/V solutions that are perfectly suited to the client itself and the context that they’re operating in.  We’re not interested in deploying the most expensive equipment we can find just because the technology is exciting.  Every dollar spent needs to deliver a return on the investment and be highly functional if it is to make a difference.

As such, we advise a number of our clients to return to the drawing board and identify exactly what they’re trying to achieve.  Before we even talk about solutions we need to clarify how we’re going to measure the success of the project.  The technology is only as powerful as the results it can deliver, so it’s not about pushing the boundaries of the scope in hope that you arrive at better leverage.  Instead, we need to craft a solution that is fit for the purpose for which it was designed.

This is a much more sustainable form of capital investment and allows for more flexibility and agility over the long term.  Instead of being stuck with an expensive and over-engineered A/V solution that is being underutilized, you can save that money and get something that delivers what it needs and nothing else.

This is not to say that we’re against state-of-the-art A/V setups by any stretch of the imagination.  All we’re saying is that you need to be honest about your needs and objectives to make the right decision.  

Don’t get carried away with the excitement.  You’re looking for something that’s fit for purpose.  Everything on top of that is a bonus.

If you’re looking for some help with your A/V setup, we’d love to help.  Get in touch today and let us walk the journey with you.  We might just save you millions of dollars which you could deploy elsewhere.

ABOUT CAG: CAG is a highly experienced IT consulting firm. With 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful, and practical solutions combined with straight-for ward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas; Columbia Advisory Group works extensively with clients throughout the United States. For more information, visit