We value education—especially when it comes to beacon deployments. Though the technology is pretty easy to understand and seemingly simple enough to implement, it’s easy to make a mistake or two (or fifteen). Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when deploying Bluetooth beacons and our suggestions.
Prefer watching to reading? Check out our on demand webinar 10 Beacon Deployment Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Project.
Table of contents:
1. Be aligned with all stakeholders. It’s likely you’ll be communicating only with a handful of folks on your customer’s side. Of course, there will likely be surprises especially with large deployments or companies. In some situations, I.T., groundskeepers, investors, and all kinds of other departments will have an impact on your final deployment. Be sure to get all of this important information before starting.
2. Study deployment site upfront: You don’t need to know every nook and cranny of your deployment site. But you should come close. Understanding what the site actually looks like will minimize hiccups. Otherwise, you could be looking at some last minute structural surprises.
3. Plan and deploy for the use case: The infrastructure is being installed for a reason. That means the deployment should be planned specifically for that reason. Too many beacons or shoddy coverage in an important area shouldn’t happen.
4. Get venue maps early on: Sometimes, customers don’t really have the time to get the venue maps in your hands. They can run around in circles to make it happen. Unfortunately, that’s going to hurt your deployment. Knowing what you’re getting into is key to start planning.
5. Choose beacon for usability not for price: Once on-site, the beacons you chose can’t be changed. Instead of getting hung on in the decision making process on details, pick the tools that will make your infrastructure last and perform well. Otherwise the point of the infrastructure is greatly undermined.
6. Have a realistic timeline: Again, it’s easy to get pushed along in the planning process and commit to dates and deadlines just to move ahead. Large deployments aren’t easy, and if there are snags, it will take even longer. The larger the project is, the larger the chance there will be surprises.
7. Secure all necessary tools: Do you need ladders or cars, hammers or cable ties? Whatever your needed tools, don’t assume they’ll be available. Always plan ahead and make sure these tools will be there when you need them. And don’t forget to think in depth about what kind of tools you may need given the environment and deployment size.
8. Secure all permissions upfront: Do you need security clearance? Make sure you’re known to the important people and guards on-site.
9. Preconfigure upon production: Leaving beacon configurations to site adds workload and drains battery. Make yourself and customers happy by doing this ahead of time.
10. Install beacons securely with future in mind: Deploying can be physically difficult. Beacons may need to be attached in difficult places or to unusual fixtures. However, the infrastructure doesn’t end at deployment. While deployment teams can walk off and not look back, that customer will be stuck dealing with lost, stolen, or broken beacons for months to years.
11. Acknowledge the delicate nature of BLE signals: General numbers about range don’t matter when there’s a big brick wall in front of you. Blockers will change your plans and that’s okay. It’s much better to adapt an infrastructure to these details than to force an infrastructure that won’t be practical.
12. Understand the limitations of consumer handsets: Not all phones are the same. If you’re surprised your phone can pick up the Bluetooth signal, consider whether visitors and users will also be able to receive that signal. It can be difficult to guess, but it’s never good to assume that because the signal worked once that it always will.
13. Make sure your team knows how to read maps: Where are you deploying and how do you get there? If your team can’t easily answer this, it may be time for a map bootcamp. This is a great skill that makes deployments faster and easier every time.
14. Be meticulous in your documentation: Where you deployed what beacons may seem like minor information, but you never know when it will become invaluable.
15. Plan the knowledge transfer from customer’s perspective: Maybe your customer is great with beacons. They know everything about Bluetooth and how to maintain their infrastructure. More likely, you’ll have to help them along. That means giving them data in a form they can understand. This may take a few extra steps, but it will be infinitely more useful and make your customer more successful.
16. Plan the maintenance and monitoring smartly: Customers need to be able to take of their infrastructure on their own. That means delivering information about monitoring and what kind of next steps they should follow. Customers aren’t the expert on this. It’s up to the experts to fill in the gaps.
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