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  • Nikki Ault

The Digital Signage Supply Chain: A Chess Game


Let's be honest, once you have the idea for a digital signage project, you more or less get a picture in your mind for the final product and that's about all you can do.


Knowing how it goes from concept to reality is the part you want to put on fast forward.


You don't want to know all the steps taken to get there, and you especially don't want to be in the weeds doing it, you just want it done.

Understanding the digital signage supply chain can be compared to playing a game of chess. Except, as the customer, you'd like to see it happen in time-lapse mode.


To break it down, each piece in the game of digital signage chess is a part of the supply chain, and your digital signage integrator is the mover. It is essential that your integrator know what uniqueness each piece has and how to make them all work together.


The corny quote: If you fail to plan, plan to fail comes to mind here. However it is so true in the digital signage world.


Integrators like Coffman Media, with years of experience and reputable relationships with vendors and clients alike, understand that planning will make the difference between a project being successful or becoming an epic fail.


So what does planning have to do with understanding the digital signage supply chain? In a one word answer, Everything.


Sharing with you some quick tips for the integrator to keep in mind will hopefully set the right path in planning accordingly.


Define Objectives


Any digital signage project starts with defining objectives. Your integrator will likely go through a Needs Assessment with you. A Needs Assessment establishes the goals and outcomes you expect from your digital signage solution.


A site survey is basically a walk through of where the signage will possibly go. A site survey is done to assess: size, space, location, connectivity, power, and lighting.


Budget Allocation


Coming up with a budget is a part of this Needs Assessment as well. Without knowing your budget, it's hard to establish any kind of implementation plan for your signage.


There is such a wide range of projects, you want to make sure you aren't planning a champagne project on a beer budget.


Also, establishing your budget allows your integrator to plan for budget allocation throughout the course of implementation. They can decide on a payment schedule that enables the budget dollars to be allocated where and when they need to be.


Identify Network/Content Distribution


During that Needs Assessment and site survey, it will be necessary to identify network connectivity, power connectivity, and content distribution.


Some of the questions you will need to answer include: Will you use local area network connections, Wi-Fi connectivity, will the content come from a push or pull method, where will external media players go, will you use system on chip with internal media players, are there cords that will need to be hidden, how accessible is it for support, etc.?


Identifying these during the Needs Assessment and site survey allow your integrator to plan the timeline for what extra steps may be needed.


Establish A Timeline


This is the most critical step for your integrator and often where the most disruption in the supply chain occurs.


You need to expect the unexpected and work this into your timeline projections. Natural disasters, pandemic threats, vendors going out of business, shipping delays, human errors, etc. While these things may not be preventable, they can be taken into account and planned for.


Allow time for such issues to happen. In the digital signage industry, our latest threat happens to be the Coronavirus. Not only does our technology rely on manufacturing from where these areas have been infected, but other vendors rely on parts from them which affects timelines on their end as well. Also, some of the major shipping container ports have been shut down.


Does this mean we panic and cancel all projects? Well heck no. This just means we have to allow time for these issues within our timeline.


Keeping this in mind for future projects is crucial to ensure your project is completed in the time it is promised.


Scheduling installation is part of establishing that timeline as well. If you have internal installers you have a little more control of the schedule for those, but if you use external or contracted installers, you have to work within their schedule.


Creating relationships with your vendors gives you the upper hand on knowing their average timelines in how far out the schedule goes and how long they need for installation on a typical job.


Planning a digital signage project is a very strategic process and is much safer to leave in the hands of integrators who know how to move the chess pieces just so to create that checkmate moment.


To schedule your free digital signage project consultation, contact sales@coffmanmedia.com.