Joint Use Collaboration: Lessons From the 2023 Alden Conference
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford.
This quote sums up the central theme of the Alden Conference.
We all know that effective collaboration is crucial for the success of joint use asset management projects—especially as work has become more complex and involves more stakeholders than ever. What’s less obvious is how to get there.
At the conference, we gathered asset owners, telecoms, broadband providers, and engineering service firms. We asked them what each group thinks the other is doing well and what they’re seeking from one another. What did we learn?
There’s tremendous opportunity for improving collaboration in the industry for joint pole management—if companies can appreciate one another’s strengths and understand each entity’s needs.
We asked these questions during the conference—read on to get insights straight from our customers and other Alden One users.
What Are Pole Owning Utilities Doing Well?
- Pole owning utilities prioritize good standards, reliability, and resiliency.
- They value communication and safety, acting as a liaison between communication and broadband providers, and service firms.
- They excel at meeting deadlines and maintaining and restoring their assets.
To improve collaboration, other stakeholders said they rely on pole owners to facilitate clear and timely communication between departments and share that information with project partners to streamline FCC timelines and billing. By maintaining and sharing updated ownership records, utilities and pole owning companies can provide the accuracy needed for joint use work. Alden One users said they should also prioritize pole changeouts when power is attached and ensure thorough documentation of their operations.
What Are Communication and Broadband Providers Doing Well?
- Communication and broadband providers are skilled in providing innovative services that support economic development in communities.
- They focus on reliability and spending to ensure that their services meet the needs of customers.
- They set good standards and communicate expectations for all parties involved.
To further improve, other stakeholders said they could benefit from providers improving their engineering practices and adhering more closely to specifications. Asset attachers can improve coordination by balancing the need for speed with the correction of violations, our customers said.
What Are Engineering Service Firms Doing Well?
- Engineering firms are talented at collaboration and setting requirements to get things right the first time.
- They bring in innovative ideas and provide an à la carte experience to meet the needs of their clients.
- They provide timely and effective communication, agility with requirements, and act as a liaison between customers and owners.
Our attendees reported that service firms need to scale their operations with a focus on training their staff to be more efficient and better at meeting timelines. Suggestions for improving collaboration included strengthening mid-project communication, having earlier kickoff meetings, and providing clarity on design improvements. Another key takeaway? Service firms could recognize the benefit of conducting field visits rather than relying on Google Maps.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Deploying a more connected future has never been more important. Companies must deliver on the promise of high-speed broadband in every remote corner of the country and improve our cities with new smart grid technology. Driving efficient coordination is key to leveraging these new business opportunities and building communities powered for the future.
However, it’s going to require change — and soon. Tolerance for lag times, inaccuracies, and antiquated methods of sharing data (like Excel spreadsheets) is becoming a thing of the past as demands increase.
Businesses are discovering the power of process automation for accelerating change. During the conference, we asked Alden One users to describe their experience using the platform.
Here’s what they said:
- It gives us greater control by providing a way to standardize systems.
- We use e-payments and billing solutions to streamline transactions and get clarity around financial operations.
- The platform provides one centralized database for all documents, photos, and communication, eliminating confusion.
- We use it as a turnkey solution for field tracking to be more efficient.