Assessing what's in the field is a key component to asset management. If you do not know what's out there or the current health of those assets today, you are missing vital pieces of information and potentially chunks of revenue. Especially if you are a pole owner dealing with bootleg attachments. Field assessment follows a process—one that benefits from strategy and specificity. If you are not diligent, this process can turn into a boondoggle.
Think of field assessment like a treasure hunt. Before you begin, you need to understand the goal: find the prize. Consider this: that prize must be specific, or the searcher could be thrown off the trail by every shiny object along the path. The same goes for searching out violations, bootlegs or maintenance issues in the field. Something our technicians hear, "Just go get me everything I don’t know about." It might sound reasonable to the person asking, but there is no goal in that request, only a directive for directionless search and a recipe for a wild goose chase.
Here are a few reasons why less-than-specific searching is not the most effective way to handle field assessment:
It is a quote as old as the internet (and attributed to no one in particular), though it could pretty easily belong to someone in joint use: "If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know when you find it?" While searching for everything might be something a company may aspire to, field assessment with a purpose is more immediately time-effective. Focus gets results, whether your real goal is discovering potentially costly violations or capturing back rent on unauthorized attachers. You will get there faster if you begin with the end in mind.
Sending technicians into the field armed only with "get me what I don’t know" amounts to sending them into an unending cycle of retrieval of information and return to find the even more vague "next thing." It is a great way to keep a person tied up indefinitely searching for nothing in particular. Most joint use departments do not have the resources to send good techs on repetitive missions. We can bet yours does not have the luxury either.
A vague request is an overwhelming one. Say an engineer who is strapped for time is asked to just "go find stuff." He may enter the field thinking "If I see something, I will deal with it," but he might also simply decide the work is unnecessary and impractical and decline to do due diligence. In some cases, field assessment can help reduce duplication of work. Ironically however, a vague request could actually result in duplications: if they are not specifically told to look, technicians could move forward with work that has already been done, do it again and then move on to the next without knowing. It is smart to check beforehand. It is even smarter to know exactly what you should be checking for.
Smart field assessment needs strategy. Identify the mission. Find bootleg attachers. Seek out clearance violations. Check poles in this area for rot. Ensure this job has been completed. Look for the right things and you are likely to find them. Look for nothing in particular and find yourself with misused time and resources.