A Joint Use Recipe: Backlog Buffet

Posted by Ashley Little on October 27, 2015

overworked-joint-use-staff.jpgAs fall’s crisp days begin in most places in the U.S. and the celebratory among us start thinking about overstuffed birds, starchy vegetables, and miles of sweet treats, we have been thinking of a joint use recipe that is very popular year round: The Backlog Buffet.

Perennially served at parties no organization really wants to attend, the Backlog Buffet is a traditional, if not somewhat troublesome feast often prepared for pole owners, attaching companies, and anyone in charge of pole transfer and joint use. The spread: requests for pole transfer come in faster than they can be accomplished, or build up over time, causing a backlog of incomplete equipment transfer requests. Soon to follow is a glut of double wood, or worse, transfer of ownership of decommissioned poles to lagging attachers. It is truly a dish best served cold—and hopefully infrequently. Here is our favorite recipe for how to make it.

The Backlog Buffet

: 4,000 to 4 million, depending upon smaller municipalities to major cities. Scale ingredients appropriately to your organization's needs.

What's needed:

A pinch of resource contention

With regard to internal resources, often demand outpaces supply. "Business as usual" requires a large piece of the resource pie on a good day. To spice things up, if too many work requests, such as pole transfers, come due at once, everyday tasks may have to take precedence, leaving equipment to literally hang out on decommissioned poles longer than it should.

Several piles of transfer requests

Transfer requests have a tendency to somehow multiply—especially if your organization is busy with other initiatives. Whether the stars have simply aligned and dozens are requested at once, or lack of organization or communication have kept old requests lingering, as the pile grows it gets harder and harder to find the resources to clear each and every instance.

A tons of unforeseen work

New construction and significant maintenance projects add up to additional work on regular staff. Growth is great, but when work needed overtakes the resources to complete it—even available contract resources—recent pole transfer requests can be put on the back burner for more pressing jobs.

1 joint use contract

All joint use agreements are relegated by a contract that, among other things, lays out the number of days considered "reasonable" for a pole transfer to take place. Once time has run out, the pole owner reserves the right to transfer ownership of the "bad" or old pole to the nonresponsive attacher. This may sound merely annoying, but assuming ownership of potentially old, damaged, rotten or structurally insufficient equipment also means assuming ownership its liability. Damage caused by the pole becomes the new owner’s load to bear.


Pile onto the desk of a joint use manager and stir wildly. Repeast for 45+ days until all parties are righteously frustrated. Joking. Completely joking. 

Instead, get a plan and some help, like this company did Contract the services of a joint use expert to review contractual agreements, conduct field visits, perform onsite assessments of equipment and the complexity of each potential transfer, and then update databases and processes so the Backlog Buffet goes away .

Backlogs Case Study