CSP: Crestron Services Providers explained

posted on Monday, 28th January 2013 by Cliff Stammers

Crestron  Trade 


It's been ten years now since a small legion of Crestron programmers here in the UK were called in to witness the founding of a new and cohesive entity known as the Crestron Authorised Independent Programmer scheme. And on that day, as the code moons fell in to alignment and the constellation of Orion was filled with binary stardust, it came to pass that the CAIP-lings were born - all boys and all weighing considerably more than 7lb 7oz. Ah, how sweet. So it seems quite an unusual move for Crestron to mark the tenth anniversary of its very successful CAIP scheme, by killing it off. Unusual, that is, until you look deeper in to the reasons behind yet another maverick idea, from this, by far the most perennially inventive of control system companies.

CPS: A new support group for a mature market
The Crestron Authorised Independent Programmers are all dead. Now there's a sentence that a few of you have been longing to read, I've absolutely no doubt! But I don't mean it literally. However, it is true that the scheme itself has been shelved in favour of something altogether more cohesive; something altogether more grown-up and viable, and moreover something that's intended to reflect the ever-maturing market that we are all finding ourselves working in these days.

The AV industry of 2013 is a very different industry to that which we all inhabited in 2003. For one thing, it's far more litigious than before. And let's face it, in a world where the stakes can be skyscraperingly high; if, as a programmer you lose your footing you have got a lot further to fall than a decade ago. So then it has got to be common sense to have a stronger safety net under you. And the CAIP one was beginning to look a bit threadbare. So, it has been replaced. CAIP people are being reincarnated as CSPs: Crestron Services Providers. This is not an overnight transformation. It is done. By the time you read this, we'll all be a month or so old. But is it just a change of name? A cynical rebranding exercise, you are sure to ask? No sir - it's a lot more than that.

What the change means to you
So, what does it mean to you, Mr Installer? Well, hopefully quite a lot if you are a purveyor of Crestron products. The biggest and by far the most important innovation enshrined within the new CSP Scheme, is the insistence of Crestron on the scheme's participants to be able to issue a bona fide Scope of Works if asked to. This is going to be policed actively and CSP's will be barred if they fail to produce the requisite documentation upon demand on two separate occasions. This is a clear signal that poor company practice will not be tolerated, and I think this shows how far we've all come in recent years.

Trying to undertake massive projects without any type of Scope of Works in this day and age is, to my mind, utterly mad anyhow so why would Crestron even need to police this sort of foolishness? Well, it transpires that jobs do get executed without drawings or even a list of kit in certain instances! Small five-day jobs I can understand, but apparently it's even the big projects that have been falling victim to this lack of consideration. So there's a template for this that's very thoughtfully been produced by Crestron, and that has taken most of the pain out of it for us lot already, so we really should have no excuses for producing correct documentation when necessary.

We're now all getting a more comprehensive resource and support presence on the US Crestron website as well, which is a massive advantage. It's hoped this will evolve in tandem with programmers all over the world as we share tips and tricks and code sets and all that stuff that geeky geezers like us thrive on. When you consider that there are over 2,500 active products in the company portfolio now, and that we are expected to be 100 percent conversant with pretty much all of them at the drop of a hat, then a place to share information and knowledge is going to be crucial. A place to hear about the upside and the downside of making something work smoothly, other than out of the client's mouth, is going to be very useful indeed.

Proper documentation
All of this is interesting because it's pointing towards the same thing: expansionism. AV is, I personally feel, once again careering towards a boom and it is things like the CSP program that we should be welcoming warmly. CAIP was perfectly fine for individual programmers, doing individual jobs. But a lot of those programmers have joined forces these days, and built up actual companies, especially in the States. And CSP appears to be, to my mind, the equivalent support structure for those companies, where CAIP was there really for individuals.

Proper documentation is vital to underpin good practices. I don't mean we need to be inflexible to the point of friction, but I do think we need to understand when to focus and when to have a laugh and a joke: to be more professional. And anything that lends itself to the consolidation and organisation of what is still to some extent a quite fledgling industry, has got to be eminently laudable I'd say.

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Also read:
Opinion: Rise of the planet of the networks
Eco technology a huge opportunity for CI
Crestron CAIPs become Creston Services Providers

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