Two-way communication is an essential aspect of maintaining our electrical and communication infrastructure. For both joint use applications and transfer requests, the pole owner and the attacher must exchange and react to information. Structuring the dialog enhances communication by providing for both consistency and staffing flexibility. The consistency comes in the form of common vocabulary with structured answers and attached business process. Additionally, any user can jump in the middle of the workflow of a proposal and know where the proposal is going and where it has come from since all correspondence and files are in the same place.
Reporting on many unstructured applications is difficult. Structuring the communication process simplifies analysis leading to correct analysis and empowers good decisions making.
For these reasons, a shared electronic communication system enhances joint use communication.
While the structure provides for many benefits, it may also have drawbacks. Throughout the industry, a common problem is the inability to close out the structured correspondence because of the inactivity of one of the parties. Closing the correspondence provides a reportable endpoint to the dialog which is necessary for accurate analysis.
In SPANS, the dialog between the pole owner and attacher is called a proposal. A typical SPANS workflow has three phases. The first is a planning phase where both parties decide on what is going to be done and the cost. Construction is recorded in the second phase. And in the final phase, the proposal is recapped and closed.
All joint use software has a similar set of phases where communication can breakdown. With regards to SPANS, SSP has attempted to improve communication by shortening the workflow or allowing the pole owner to advance the proposal in the workflow.
Shorten the conversation – Unilateral Recapping
Brevity tends to lead to profitability. However, incomplete communication can lead to mistakes which also tend to be expensive. Business conversation needs to be balanced between simplicity and complexity so that communication is complete and efficient.
More and more SPANS clients are shortening joint use conversation in specific contexts by shortening the recapping phase of a SPANS proposal. Typically, each company involved in a proposal has an opportunity to review and modify (or agree) to the costs and rental changes associated with the work recorded in a proposal. Partners are shortening the workflow by only having the pole owner recap proposals.
It may seem impolite to not allow an attaching company to dispute the costs or rental changes of a proposal, but in practice the pole owner and attacher’s joint use staff resolve recapping issues without a formal workflow.
Therefore, most SPANS customers and partners use a process called Unilateral Recapping to shorten the recapping phase and facilitates the closing of proposals by having only one company recap.
Advance the conversation – Recall Construction
Joint use construction often requires coordination between the pole owner and one or more attaching companies. A common frustration in the joint use community is the lack of notification from a partner when prerequisite construction is completed. Electronic systems typically provide the capability to record and then automatically notify other companies regarding the completion of prerequisite construction (make-ready).
Even when coordination is not required, because make ready is not necessary, pole owners often request notification of the completion of the attaching company’s construction for the purposes of record-keeping, rental calculation, and/or post-inspection.
However, if a partner is delinquent in recording construction, communication will lag and negate some of the benefits of the electronic communication system.
To facilitate the notification of prerequisite construction and closing proposals, pole owners have asked for the option to rescind the request to record construction and move a proposal back to a state where the pole owner can advance or close the proposal. Though the pole owner loses the record of completed construction from the attacher, it does allow the pole owner to move the construction either to post-inspection or recap. Additionally, the pole owner has an opportunity to record more of its own construction activities or record that all transfer work was accomplished by a third party.
There are few perfect solutions to business challenges, and technology is not always the answer. But the advantages of an electronic joint use communication system outweigh the drawbacks. Creativity, business knowledge and technical expertise applied to a drawback often result in overall solutions granting greater efficiency and efficiency.