Friday, September 20, 2013

Taking the long view.

You've got a vision.  You've got a goal.  Leadership has bought in.  And it involves making a significant production system upgrade!  So far this sounds like a really good situation, right?  But often the reality is that it will take time to get there.  Sometimes years.  At Willow Creek North Shore, we're in that exact position.

Right now we share space with a Christian school but we hope to be in our own building in two years.  That's a long time from a technological stand point.  So while we're brainstorming all the great systems we'll have eventually, how do we balance the needs of today with the needs of the future?  Gear will still need to be replaced during the next two years but after those two years, we'll be in a completely difference production environment.  Will the gear we bought be relevant? The tension is keeping both the present and future in mind.  Sometimes this tension means you buy big, and sometimes this tension means you buy small.

Our IMAG camera tripods are old, worn out, and they're starting to show it.  They are starting to affect our production quality.  Now tripods could be a relatively easy and (compared to other gear) inexpensive to replace.  But remember, we're thinking about now and later.  We now use Camera X, which weighs about 8 lbs.  But in the future we will be using Camera Y, which weighs about 20 lbs.  Since our tripods will last for more than two years, getting higher quality, heavier, and more expensive tripods now will not only serve us well in our current space but also in our new space with new equipment.

On the flip side of that, sometimes you have to think small because you really don't have a clear picture of what the production environment will be in the future.  Technology changes fast and the product that is perfect for your situation may not be available yet.  That shouldn't paralyze us but rather keep our purchases in perspective.  We currently use Pro Video Sync from Renewed Vision to play back our weekend messages about 75% of the time.  The software and the Mac it's running on are 6 years old and starting to glitch.  This system is crucial to our services and we need to replace it, but with what?  What we'll most likely install in our new facility is a broadcast-grade, multi-channel, time-slip capable, networkable, dedicated hardware solution.  But should we get that now?  Instead, we've opted for the much less expensive upgrade to our current system, Renewed Vision's new Pro Video Server software on a newer Mac.  This solution will still be useful to us in the future, it saves us money now, and it keeps our options open to adopting a new playback technology in the future.

Taking the long view on a project often involves getting other peoples input.  Talk to other tech leaders about your ideas.  Talk with your leadership and present pros and cons of various options.  Riding that tension between the present and future will help guide your decision-making process and help you steward resources well.  That equates to serving your organization well, both today and down the road.

No comments:

Post a Comment