WARNING: This is a baby-free article. ☺
Buying new dispatch furniture for your communications center can be a daunting task. It comes with a lot of recommendations, shared experiences and horror stories, and it's kind of like a blind date. You've heard from your friend at Comm Center A that Vendor X is a great catch! They’re attractive, timely, well-behaved, plus they come with great references; everything fits! However, when you get down to the nitty gritty, everything falls apart and nothing works out like you thought it would. As a recipient of several, horrible, no good, very bad dates, it really makes you question what you ever did to your friend at Comm Center A. I mean, this is what they REALLY think of you? But I digress…
We all experience epic fails from time-to-time, and it really is no fault of your friends or comm center comrades (sometimes…insert sideways glance). Oftentimes, it’s the result of poor communication and/or unpreparedness or setting unrealistic expectations that may not have been well-documented from the start. So, in an effort to alleviate the “what have I gotten myself into?” hangover, here are a few tips for preparing your next furniture update:
- Are your other vendors prepared? Dispatch furniture is one of those pieces that requires all hands on deck. Most dispatch furniture vendors only do just that: install furniture! Make sure your phone, CAD, radio and respective IT departments are involved in the planning process. It often requires removal of old equipment in order to install it on the new. That is generally only done by each of the technology vendors or a certified IT department. In other words, “plan your work and work your plan!”
- Do you have a hole location plan? Even if you’re lining up exactly where your old furniture is, it’s highly important to ensure that power connections are confirmed. Whether this is from the floor, the wall or the ceiling, you don’t want to have your CPU cabinets not line up with your power sources. That’s a horrible, no good, very bad day for everyone!
- Do you have a back-up center or alternative site? If you’re remodeling a current room, it’s important to know early on if you plan on continuing to work in the room while new furniture is being installed or if you will relocate to a back-up or partner site. This factors into installation time and costs, so this must be known at first sight.
- If considering a live cut, do you have a “phase plan”? On top of the above, your live cut should be done in phases. It’s important to note how many minimum workstations you absolutely have to have up and running at any one time. Live cuts can run very smoothly as long as all scenarios are accounted for. (See MCCD Project Gallery)
- If a new build or full remodel is necessary, is construction on par with the vendors’ timeline? No one likes being stood up. You would hate to have your furniture delivered two weeks before your room is actually completed or the floors are even in! Unless you’re ready to pay for storage and extra fees, make sure there is a clear understanding of timelines and delivery expectations.
- Have you verified your measurements? BIG problems can occur during installation if measurements are not confirmed and verified. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Don’t solely rely on your sales rep to be a math genius or contractor! Most vendors should provide sign-off drawings where you are required to validate the room dimensions. Any issues during installation when it comes to space will generally fall back on the customer if there are additional costs required to make things right due to improper measurements.
- Have you verified your equipment? Monitors, CPUs, Radios? It may seem silly when your furniture vendor requests all of your equipment information, but there is a method to our madness! It’s important during the design stage that all monitor quantities and sizes, as well as CPU counts, sizes, rackmounts, etc., are correctly accounted for. You’re paying to ensure that your users are comfortable and that your technology is as well. If your monitors are improperly positioned or you have CPUs that end up on the floor, you might as well have stayed where you were. Furniture, just like all the technology, is a hefty investment. Make sure you do it right the first time!
To sum it up, don’t get burned! Make sure you properly vet your vendors, ask too many questions and take your time; finding the right partner is a lifetime investment!