I had a poll over the weekend to see what the biggest pain points were, (feel free to vote again at https://wade4wireless.com/2013/11/17/tell-me-what-problems-you-see-installingintegrating-at-tower-sites/). So I got the message, your company is setting an unrealistic schedule for you to meet. So that could be for several reasons. It might be a good idea to ask why your company is putting such pressure on you guys to get this done. Is it because your boss wants as much work as possible? Is it all about the money? Could it be something else? Here are a few ideas I can think of.
Carrier: Could be that the carrier is putting pressure on your company to complete X number of sites in a designated time. Sometimes they want the towers to be lit up at a crazy pace so they have bragging rights. They often plan to cut over sites by markets, so they want all the sites in a market to be ready by a specific date, so if you have one tower that has issues it could screw up the go live date in that market. When that happens everyone begins to panic, except the climber, they are too busy working to get the thing done! It’s like when there are weather issues, all you can do is all you can do. Did your boss agree to something crazy to make the carrier happy?
Over Promised: Another issue is that your company either over promised or is trying to get a bonus for early completion. This still happens out there, and someone there will see $$ signs. This is great, if it’s possible to do everything safely and if logistics did its job and has all the hardware at the site. Did your boss promise something he shouldn’t have?
Logistics: Sound simple doesn’t it; just make sure all the hardware is at the site. We all know in reality how critical logistics becomes when the deadline is close. It’s something that you’re not sure who to blame, the shipper probably did their job and if not you rely on FedEx or UPS to get it to you somewhere in the same town. Is the BOM (Bill of Materials) correct? What if the supplier is out of something you need, not much you can do but shop around or look for at similar part that you hope will work. What if the LTE OEM vendor is behind? Nothing you can do will change that, not in a specific market. Once again, weather could be an issue, what you do is wait and let the project manager scream at everyone until they feel better. Then you wait some more, until all the piece parts arrive and you can finish. Logistics is a huge part of any deal, and yet so many offers that I worked on I see people miss it all the time, like it doesn’t matter. If you ever worked a large project, you need to know all about the parts, warehousing, kitting, shipping, and delivery. It matters and it will be part of another blog I write. Did your boss forget about the logistics?
Project Manager: One more thing, maybe the job is not planned properly. Maybe the project manager (PM) just is poor at planning and could not organize everything to show up or messed up the schedule or missed something. Not much you can, unless you have a warehouse and you can sell them some of your inventory to get moving. Easy money, and a great way to reduce inventory, (or to move some extras that you had lying around from that job 4 years ago).Now you’re glad you save that mount or some jumpers, it all paid off right now and the company made some money, that’s a good day for the tower crew! Why? Because you went from the climbers to the guys that saved the day and kept the schedule on track, Wahoo! Remember that we are in this to make money people! So did the PM over promise?
Bad Site Surveys: Here is something that could cause delays in a major way, bad surveys! Major issue here! If your company did this then you probably want to kick someone’s ass when you find something major is wrong. If it happens once in a while then it should be OK, because things get missed from time to time, but if something is consistently wrong, address it immediately! Don’t screw around until you’re 25 sites in and you notice they all have problems, figure it out after 2 or 3 and make a fuss! Call the PM, let the foreman know, just bitch as loud as you can so people know there’s something wrong with the process, because chances are it won’t go away until you point it out! You know who is to blame here, go ahead, point the finger.
Manpower: Manpower shortages are a big problem, especially now that all the carriers want to upgrade to LTE. Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, and Sprint all are upgrading. There is a lot of work out there and you may have trouble keeping and finding good people. So if the company owner decides he will hire 3 more crews but can’t then he over promised. Then he is looking to the crews he has to make up the work and get things rolling. Good luck with that, but be honest with him and let him know you have limitations. Remind them it’s a physical job and you don’t want anyone to get hurt because exhaustion creates problems. They always blame the guy on the tower, but the foreman has to take some responsibility if he knows he’s been pushing too hard! Again, weather matters because it could create a bunch of other safety issues that will limit time in the air. Trust me, I know several guys that got frostbite. It’s not pretty. Ask the man in charge if his eyes were bigger than his crews, (he thought he would have plenty of people).
New Hardware: Here is something that could be a real problem. The job was bid based on old hardware, say a smaller or lighter RRH, and here you are lugging up 2 100 lb RRHs on a single mount instead of 1 60 lb RRH on the same mount. You’re saying to the crew, “What the hell is this? This doesn’t match the drawings!” Real problem here because you have to hope that the structural for the tower are able to handle all of them. Make sure the PM knows this, and if he does, then go back to your foreman and ask who estimated the job. Are you in over your head? Make sure you know what you’re installing before you start the job. Remember to work smart. To work smart you need to plan ahead. Whose fault is this, look around and see if you didn’t miss something.
Listen, work smart. Plan as much as you can. I did so many things the hard way but I also had the customer make changes along the way. Be careful with this because they think that because you’re buddies that you will do it for free. That may work a few times but if you’re spending more time doing the favor than the actual job then you should stop and ask for a change order. Remember that we are in this to make money, if we don’t everybody loses! Make sure you read the SOW (Scope of Work) so you know what you are doing before you go to the site. Work smart every chance you get!
I would like to hear back from you so I can share your problems and successes with the world. Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel. If you think these blogs are too long, let me know! If you have pictures feel free to send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on www.facebook.com/wade4wireless (and send me a Like) or on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/113288320554558521340/+Wade4wirelessWorld/posts (and +1 me). Tell me what you think and give me some ideas for future blogs. I am also on LinkedIn; search for Wade4wireless and you will see my profile.