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Time to upgrade
When thinking about upgrading your equipment, think about how your current equipment may be failing or how the life of your equipment is coming to its end.

The Right Time to Upgrade?: A Few Reasons

Budgeting for unknown upgrades should be a constant, one that should always be factored into an annual A/V ministry budget.

Some considerations:

Your current equipment is failing or the life of your equipment is coming to its end

Talk to the right people that can help you before you decide on anything.

Aiming to avoid current conflicts or issues with equipment usage or program processes, while providing solutions

To allow for integration of a piece of equipment that will help your system to work better together

To accommodate evolving or new tech requirements (i.e., the recent FCC wireless bandwidth changes)

To meet a desired outcome or objective, such as helping your ideas translate better technically, being more cost efficient, or having an easier means to run new equipment, or where a replacement offers more or better tools/options, etc.

If you have budgeted for needed or desired equipment

If you cannot find a substitute for what you currently own, to find a workaround

If a new layout or design will make your team more effective or perhaps more adequate for space or needs

How doing the right research will tell you if an upgrade is needed

Recently, our church, Floris United Methodist Church, wanted to add a moving spotlight, above the main sanctuary entryway. This would have enabled the pastors to move around on the stage or the floor, and always be seen in the right light.

Everyone thought this would translate to a better look for livestreaming, which we constantly evaluate.

In doing our research, though, it turns out that it was a bit more complicated to use the equipment and might prove difficult to train volunteers to use. We all agreed, though, that we could get over that hump and make it happen.

At that time, the main issue was that the spotlight was going to be quite costly. Nonethless, we still believed it was worth the cost to improve our livestream viewing experience.

From there, we started to get excited about the spotlight. Until we began asking about what it would entail to install, which immediately put an end to this project.

As it was explained to us, an architect would be required, as well as another company to rent a special crane, to tear down the wall above the main sanctuary doors and install supporting beams, wire and secure it to the wall and yet another company to complete a safety inspection.

As a result, such an install would have cost more than double the spotlight.

This is why asking the right questions to the right people is so important, when you are considering moving forward with any upgrade.

Our desire to improve our livestream, meant that we wanted to evolve beyond the technical ability we currently have.

We looked at our need and had to do some creative research above a basic level for this project. Upon doing some research, it showed us that such a change would be cost prohibitive, and that no other less expensive substitutes or installation methods were feasible.

While in the midst of doing the right project research, you may decide to look at other churches, those that have or are doing what you are considering.

Take notes, ask questions.

Talk to the right people that can help you before you decide on anything.

Review what those churches’ setup and processes are like. Look at how they use volunteers and staff to fill positions.

Ask how they train and teach people on equipment and timing.

You may also take into consideration how current and upcoming organizational changes will affect the way your processes work?

How to decide if the actual timing is right for an upgrade

Typically, it is never good timing for a church to upgrade leading into any busy season, such as Christmas or Easter, or right before any major events, unless it is imperative.

Even a week or two before Christmas or Easter, still offers too little time if there is a problem to have it where it can be resolved without undue stress on your tech or creative team.

When you do decide to upgrade, remember to make a plan of execution for design and layout, with details of wiring and organization, that will allow you to more easily find a backup plan later on.

Take into account how long it will take for equipment to ship to your church, and the time it would take for someone like an A/V specialist, or perhaps you, to install it all. Think about whether you would also be able to afford an expert to help with the installation or tech help, if needed.

Lastly, it is important to not undervalue the need for a testing period once the gear is installed, and time to work any kinks out, to fix any issues that crop up.

In the end, replacing some piece of production gear soon is likely inevitable.

Budgeting for unknown upgrades should be a constant, one that should always be factored into an annual A/V ministry budget.

Keeping your production, and thus your gear up-to-date and functioning well, is now more important than ever.

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