Designing a cabling infrastructure project can be a headache — just ask educator and IT blogger Andrew T. Schwab.
If you're in the market for an upgrade, these five tips derived from a summary of his thoughts on the subject could help you avoid a tangled mess or a budget free fall.
1. Leave Room for Future Growth
Whether you're constructing a space for entirely new equipment or modernizing existing materials, future-proof your design by considering options for your next upgrade.
"Nothing sucks more than opening a ceiling tile on a newer building and finding the 2 conduit packed full of cable and realizing there are a dozen 45 degree turns in a run down a straight wing of classrooms," Schwab says.
2. Consider Lead's Experience
Before embarking on a big-budget project, closely examine the reference for the onsite lead and their history of cabling.
"Installers have to follow specific guidelines during installation to ensure they don’t damage the cable’s integrity while they are pulling, wrapping and bending the cable through the building," Schwab says.
3. Budget for Testing
Schwab suggests budgeting the time to ask questions. He recounts a tale of two contractors, one who took time to troubleshoot problems as they arose, and another that came across as the "C team" for rushing through the project with lazy solutions and exhibiting poor management skills.
"Write cable testing into your RFP and have them provide a report on all cable testing. You’ll want it for the warranty," Schwab says.
4. Be Specific
When delegating work, be sure to specify your needs, and follow up with regular update requests.
"Problems caught early can be fixed early and ensure they don’t continue to be repeated. If they won’t listen to you or give you BS reasons why they can’t do it, escalate immediately," Schwab says.
5. Know Your Environment
A close examination of the site can inform many purchasing decisions. Take the time to know your surroundings and their cabling history, if any.
"Walk your campuses and look at the cable. You should know pretty quick what condition it is in and where you can expect issues," Schwab says.
Keeping a firm grasp of the existing landscape, your resources and your goals can help you navigate through any cabling nightmare. But this advice can surely help.
For more tips on cabling and other K–12 IT topics, visit Schwab’s blog, There Is No Box.