“When I look fast, I’m not smooth and I am going slowly. And when I look slow, I am smooth and going fast.”—Formula One racing champion Alain Prost
You know the old saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail? It’s true in every project you undertake, no matter the size. When it comes to getting your network up and running, it’s important to be sure it’s done right, not just fast. In Step 5 of our series, we’ll talk about the roles engineering and planning play in the overall success of your rollout, why you shouldn’t cut corners in the name of saving time, and how partnering with the right consultant can get you on the fast track to implementing your broadband network.
Step 1: Spot potential roadblocks
The first step to creating a solid, workable plan is to allow for unforeseen events that may cause delays and build in time to accommodate those potential bumps in the road. Keep in mind that permitting can take anywhere from three to 18 months, and scheduling equipment delivery can take between 18 and 36 months due to surging demand for these components.
In addition, be sure to factor in the possibility of supply-chain and labor delays when building your plan. These issues have been big news recently across virtually every industry, and they don’t appear to be going anywhere soon. Internet service providers currently are unable to get 30–40% of the equipment they need for installations due to supply shortages and are waiting up to 71 weeks for fiber deliveries. Labor delays due to lack of staff are another key factor to keep in mind during your planning process. An estimated 250,000 new technicians are needed by 2025 to keep up with the current demand for broadband, making future slowdowns highly likely.
With the current labor and supply shortages making delays a necessary evil to contend with, it’s vital to include these considerations in your plan as well as to take these necessary steps toward ensuring a smooth ride toward the finish line.
Choose a permitting point person
Determine who is responsible for getting the permits early on, and make sure that person knows and understands the local permitting process for your project areas. It is also important to be aware of any potential impacts the permitting process may have on the timing of your projects. Your permitting point person should be able to share best practices with you on these topics.
Chart your course
Decide when and where you’ll start and finish your project, and build cases for why this is necessary. Our industry is being impacted by changing macro factors that all act as variables surrounding your project. Making sure that you are aware of the changing trends and challenges in the industry will help make sure those variables do not push you off your course.
Create a financial game plan
Take into account the funding and construction milestones involved with the project so you can be sure funds are available when you need them.
Step 2: Choose your crew
This brings us to another critical step in the planning process: designating roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders. With a project of this size and scope, there are bound to be numerous talented individuals working to bring it to life. By setting clear expectations from the start, you create a cohesive, collaborative team working toward the same goal. Fostering a mutual understanding across partnerships through communication is the only way to make sure everyone, from designers to project managers to the finance department, understands their role in the project, along with the key objectives that must be accomplished to move efficiently from start to finish.
But how do you determine these roles? To know who needs to be involved, you must first line up the partners and crews necessary for the project. First, you’ll need a primary deployment partner who can help you manage the project from beginning to end. You’ll also need a design partner, like Biarri Networks, who is able to iterate designs quickly and effectively using algorithmic design. Finally, you’ll need funding partners to back the project, but you’ll need to decide at the start how hands-on they will be and what you will expect from one another throughout the process.
In addition, you’ll need multiple construction crews, as skill sets for different phases of a project will differ. For instance, digging trenches and splicing fiber are two very different skills, but both are necessary to bring your network to life. Splicing fiber is a highly specialized skill that will need to be handled by an experienced crew. You may also need to plan for crews to work in tandem to expedite the schedule.
Finally, you need to know how to pick the right vendors and how to spot red flags. Look for vendors with a proven track record, relevant project experience, and excellent references from reliable sources. Be sure your chosen vendors work with digital tools and that their experience is specifically with fiber, versus coaxial cable, cellular, telephone, or utilities. Be wary of those whose promises seem somewhat unrealistic or impractical, or who talk a good game but lack relevant experience or reputable references. The choices you make when selecting your team members and vendors are directly connected with how successful the outcome of your project is, so choose wisely.
Step 3: Read the right road map
So now you’ve got a solid plan that allows for the inevitable bumps in the road and a dialed-in dream team of experts who know what they’re doing, but none of that’s going to matter much without a clear understanding of how to read and interpret the necessary data. All too often, people get sucked into bad-data orbits, relying on out-of-date or inaccurate data to drive their decision-making process. Create the right framework of open, shared models across all systems and parties, and leverage digital tools and software to field verify your data and make it as objective as possible. Biarri Networks’ dedicated data team is here to help you prep and power your data so you can be sure you’re working with the most accurate and up-to-date information available.
Armed with the knowledge that your data is sound and verified, you can then double-check your designs and approach. Physically walk the area in real life to examine and validate the design from multiple stakeholders’ points of view to be sure you haven’t overlooked anything, any place, or anyone. Make note of any potential issues you uncover so you can re-examine and correct them for a seamless flow.
While it can be tempting to forge ahead with your broadband project as quickly as possible, it’s essential not to underestimate the importance of the planning phase and to give it the proper time and consideration necessary for a smooth process that delivers the desired results. By taking the time to create a well-thought-out plan that takes various roadblocks into account upfront, you can go into your project with managed, realistic expectations and a clear view of what it takes to cross the finish line.
Keep learning about how Biarri Networks can help you achieve your broadband network goals by visiting our news page. Contact us directly about your upcoming project here.