Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Saturday, May 31, 2008

OMFG - there's a reason the soft opening was invented!

So I do a lot of work with churches and schools. And I install fairly complicated bits of technology in these places. And the skill level of the user personnel varies widely, to say the least. One of the biggest projects I've worked on, Westover Church in Greensboro, hired a professional lighting designer to run lights for the church. He knows what he's doing, to say the least. But most of the folks I deal with use volunteer personnel who have never worked with technology at this level before.

So today I've fielded half a dozen calls from a church that we worked on this spring that is getting ready for their first service. Tomorrow at 9:45 AM. They received training on their light board on Thursday, amidst electricians rewiring lighting in the sanctuary and fire alarm testing. While there were people working on the AC units, painting doors and building cabinetry. In the sanctuary. Needless to say, I didn't consider this site to be anywhere near ready for an opening this week. And the folks using the equipment had so much on their minds as I was trying to train them that practically nothing sank in, which was the root of the last three phone calls with the electricians.

So here I am with a tip for any of you in a commercial construction venture - have a soft opening. If it's a church, don't have your first service date set in stone when you begin the construction process. Get in the building when it's ready. Yes, there will be delays. Yes, it will cost more than initially budgeted. That's why you have a flexible calendar and a contingency fund in your building budget. But if you announce a hard opening you're going to do one of two things - miss the date and look like a jackass, or hit the date and endure a couple of weeks of hell trying to make a date that has no real significance anyway and end up with a facility that is less than it could be because of your own pig-headedness.

Oh, and another tip - if you're going to add an entirely new level of technology to your life, don't expect to get three hours of training on it and be able to operate it flawlessly the next day. Or week. Or month.
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