When customers ask an integrator for a proposal to put video onto their network, Hoffman says it isn’t typically the IT department that’s making the request. Most of the time, it’s a group—marketing, operations, etc.—that has decided they want or need video. If an integrator determines that their customer is someone outside of IT, Hoffman says one way to avoid headaches is to begin setting expectations and pulling together the other internal groups right away. He encourages the company to quickly ensure that everyone within the organization is on board. “People will get approval, or get the funds, or get IT’s buy-in, and then all of a sudden higher up somebody will say, ‘No, we can’t open up those ports,’ or, ‘No, we can’t allow these traversals to happen,’ and then it stonewalls the whole process,” Hoffman says. These roadblocks often show up after the integrator has been awarded the job, hardware has been ordered, and staff time has been scheduled for the installation. “That’s when all of these policy issues start come out of the woodwork,” Hoffman says, “and people are being told by their own people internally that what you’re doing isn’t allowed from a policy standpoint within their organization.”
From an end user perspective, Doug Carnell, executive vice president at AVI-SPL in Tampa, Florida, says that customers can run into unexpected issues when they don’t involve other departments, such as when Facilities is left out of the loop. Customers looking to add new video conferencing rooms may not think to include their building support teams in the planning, leading to sometimes costly problems. Carnell explains that if a room has too many windows or “is built out of glass,” it can be nearly unusable for VTC purposes, something many end users don’t realize but Facilities would probably have spotted. “End users say, ‘We need more video,’” Carnell says, but if they don’t involve the right internal departments early in the process, the Facilities team ends up building a room “not understanding how that room fits” into the VTC plan, and the space ultimately doesn’t suit the need.
It’s unlikely an organization will sail through a video integration project without encountering at least one of these pain points, but most of them can be avoided. Setting clear (and realistic) expectations up front will typically take the bite out of cost concerns, and bringing in the technical expertise necessary to ensure the infrastructure is ready to support video can help an enterprise sidestep a number of potential pitfalls. Education is a key component of any integration project—for end users, IT, and management alike—and making sure everyone is on the same page before integration efforts get underway will go a long way toward a successful outcome.