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SYSTEMS INTEGRATORSThe Systems Group: Team Integration

Lately, more and more station owners are integrating separate facilities in order to leverage shared media across multiple programming streams as well as to take advantage of recent rulings allowing duopolies. These projects can be quite large and complex. They require so many resources from a single integration firm that it makes more sense to split the project between two well-coordinated integrators. That way, the project can have enough staff to meet targeted project milestones and allow the integrators to service other clients simultaneously.

In other cases, proposed operational changes may require a consulting period inclusive of a feasibility study. This study may include such detailed design efforts that one firm may be responsible for a cohesive design and documentation effort, while a second or even a third firm may be responsible for integration of the designs. The key to successful team integration is using experienced integration professionals well-versed in meticulous project management techniques regarding technology, as well as the architectural, electrical, and mechanical systems required to support that technology. The reference point is a thoroughly detailed and coordinated written plan that clearly delineates each of the various integration team member’s responsibilities.

The Systems Group (TSG) has experience working with other integrators in this way. Although we have seen designs and implementation phases segmented across two integration firms, we have found that the best approach is to segment the project in a way that takes advantage of the strengths of each party and creates a demarcation placing complete responsibility for the design and implementation of that delineated area of responsibility. Demarcations are required for all aspects of the project, including design decisions, documentation standards, equipment choices, and procurement, as well as cabling, testing, commissioning, and training. In some cases, establishing a central hard connectivity demarc for each team to interface to will allow each installation team to complete its “side” of the demarc and to fulfill its specific area of responsibility.

The two teams need to agree on commonly used items such as distribution products, monitoring, jackfield, and patching concepts; and wiring and numbering schemes. Decisions made by integrator A regarding one area of the operation may impact integrator B in its area of responsibility. The client will expect a final documentation package that is consistent throughout the various systems for ease of future maintenance.

TSG acknowledges the fact that many integrators have unique in-house standards for design and fabrication. At the same time, we recognize that the success of the project ultimately falls to the ability of each integration team member to work closely together with the others and to compromise on less crucial issues. This is the key to realizing the best interest of the project goals under the client’s directives.

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