Following the recent news that AQAV has agreed a strategic partnership with The AV User Group, Jo Ruddock caught up with Gina Sansivero, executive director of the organisation, to find out more.
Tell us a bit about the Association.
AQAV [The Association for Quality in Audiovisual Technology] is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, located in Mineola, NY, that is dedicated to improving the operational art of designing and installing audiovisual technology. Founded by AV industry veteran Mario Maltese it is the first and only independent organisation providing training and certification to all stakeholders in the audiovisual industry to ensure adherence to a systems design and installation standard. This standard, the AV9000, provides tools and guidelines about conformance and consistency for AV companies and is reviewed periodically for inclusion of new technologies and communications. AQAV is supported by AV trade organisations, integrators, manufacturers and specifiers, and has been awarded the Seal of Transparency by GuideStar.
And tell me a bit about your background.
I’m currently the VP of marketing and corporate communications at AtlasIED. I have over 13 years’ experience working within the audiovisual industry and I very much believe in giving back to an industry that has helped me mature professionally. I’m also on the board of directors for CCUMC, NSCA’s Education Foundation and executive director at AQAV; a member of Avixa; a regional group leader for the NYC and Boston Avixa Women’s Councils; and a proud volunteer for NSCA Ignite!
Why should end users look for integrators that are AV9000 compliant?
Integrators that are AV9000 compliant offer end users higher quality installations, less time on the worksite, fewer (or no!) change orders/defects and faster commissioning. Overall, AV9000-compliant integrators come in on time and on budget. Additionally, because AV9000 is a standard, integrators who are compliant are able to replicate and scale quality design and installation across buildings or campuses for consistent quality throughout the world.
What does certification involve and how many companies are currently AV9000 compliant?
AV9000 Compliance is in its infancy. Whereas the process is simple it is not easy. To apply for AV9000 compliance, a company needs to establish, implement and maintain a quality policy. They need to submit six projects for audit that have been conducted and completed by a CQT and CQD, provide customer acknowledgements and a list of all test equipment used. These requirements are required for each company location. We currently have one company, Vistacom in Allentown, PA, that has its AV9000 compliance, and we have approximately 10 companies that are in the process of creating their quality policy and working towards filing for their compliance. In order to be AV9000 certified, a company must also submit their company’s ISO9000 certificate.
You also offer membership for technology managers. What benefits does this bring?
When technology managers understand compliance, it is easier for them to hold their integrator partners accountable to the standard and to consistent quality work. Additionally, many audiovisual departments in key vertical markets are taking a lot of their standards development, design and system maintenance in house. Understanding the AQAV standards allows them to develop a comprehensive and strong standard while also being able to maintain quality systems in their complex environments.
How important do you think standards are generally across the AV industry?
I’ll leave this to Mario – he said it best. “Quality is the indisputable cure for poor profits, dissatisfied clients, and poor morale in this industry. If we can address these issues of quality, customers will be delighted and AV professionals will feel good about what they do. That’s the message.” – Mario J. Maltes
How big an issue do you think poor quality is in the industry and what can be done to improve this?
Rapid advancement in AV technology has resulted in more product knowledge than ever before, which merely underscores the need for fundamental education in the operational art. AVIXA has addressed only individual training, not the requisite quality management of the AV companies performing the services. With AV technology moving from the eclectic to the mainstream of our corporate and educational cultures, the cost of technology exceeds $80 billion and is steadily growing worldwide. The estimates of the cost of poor quality, defects, lost hours, rework, etc exceed $15 billion
You recently announced a partnership with the AV User Group. What was the thinking behind that?
AQAV’s educational tracks will offer AV User Group members the knowledge and understanding of how to ensure consistent quality of the systems that they design, install or otherwise maintain. AQAV is convinced that AV User Group members, when trained, will see immediate results related to greater efficiency and cost savings in systems design and installation, documentation with which to easily train staff and users, and the ability to hold service providers accountable, consistently. The motivation to form this partnership was to not just support the end user with training of this type but to raise standards within the industry.
Do you have plans for any other partnerships or global expansion?
Yes! The AV User Group partnership extends to their members in Scotland and London as well as the US groups. Other partnerships we are currently cultivating would continue that expansion and allow us to bring AQAV training and certification to top-tier systems integrators. We have some pretty exciting projects and programs in the works!
What does the future hold for AQAV?
AQAV will continue to develop training and certifications programmes that help consultants, integrators and technology managers consistently perform to the highest quality standards. We will also update our existing courses to ensure that, as technology changes, the trainings provide the most relevant content for our members. We have subject matter experts who are volunteers and board members. We are restructuring some of our organisation’s committees to utilise these experts in ways that will strengthen AQAV for the long-term and will help grow the association in very manageable and strategic ways. Through the changes we will make sure that we stay true to, and amplify our mission; AQAV is dedicated to improving the operational art of designing and installing audiovisual technology.