The Race for Resources

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Human Resources Innovations in a Competitive Landscape —

How many times have you heard the phrase: “Our people are our greatest asset.”? How many companies do you know or have previously worked for, have had these words published in their employee handbooks, training manuals, or HR policies? Do employers really stand behind this statement? Do they actively empower their people to succeed in their respective roles? How much time, effort, and resources, are dedicated to training a workforce to be able to adapt to agile environments?

OSP Technician

In a lot of instances, the answer may be a resounding No!

The telecom industry has come a long way since a certain Mr. Bell thought of putting together a two-way communication device in the late 19th Century. The rapid evolution of telecoms, coupled with intense competition in the industry to deliver the latest and greatest technology at the quickest possible time-to-market, has created a fierce race for resources. So, what comprises the DNA of successful telecom companies? And, what is the importance of providing employees with the training and resources to achieve job stability, continuity, and satisfaction, thus delivering the ultimate value proposition for customers?

The advent of 5G, has intensified the race for resources in the Outside Plant (OSP) space, presenting challenges along the way that the industry has never encountered before. Customers are focused on accelerating the deployment of their latest next-generation networks to market while simultaneously maintaining their business-as-usual operations. While vendors focus on adding new products that help providers design and build these modern networks, they cannot afford to add new employees to their workforce. Instead, vendors need to take on an innovative and holistic approach to ensure customers’ success.

In today’s OSP space, companies are expending tremendous amounts of capital to deploy their next-generation networks. Vendors providing the human capital necessary to design and build these networks are being taxed like they have never been before. Numerous smaller vendors are undercapitalized, and they don’t have the budget and/or resources required to grow with the demand in the market place. In many instances, smaller players are shuttering their operations. Or, if lucky they are being acquired by larger players in the market to stay relevant. Unfortunately, companies that are building these modernized networks are now having to rely on many vendors that are simply not equipped to withstand the demands of this boom.

The problem is further compounded by most larger vendors that offer customers comprehensive turn-key services, but don’t have these solutions in-house. Often, they specialize in providing a very specific set of services in a designated silo, such as Engineering or Construction, Aerial or Buried, Inside Plant or Outside Plant, MSO or Telecom, Supply Chain, Distribution or Integration and Mobility or Wireline. Any services that are not provided by them, fall into their project-management sphere which are then charged for separately. This creates added costs for customers, be it managing procurement, administering legal, or supervising front-line management teams. The end result is dealing with vendors stacked on vendors, contracts stacked on contracts, and countless hand-offs from one vendor to another.

For employees of those vendors, it gets even worse. As the build and BAU volumes flow through the cycle of peaks and troughs, employees are constantly faced with the prospects of looking for new jobs, retraining, and finding stability. As a result, many managers, engineers, and technicians find themselves stuck in a vicious circle of bouncing from vendor to vendor in search of stability, prosperity, and progression.

So, where is the innovation and leadership in the vendor community to deliver new solutions to solve the human resource dilemma and create employee stability? Where are the solutions that rely on employee stability, and translate it into cost savings, operating efficiency, quicker deployment time, and enabling further network expansion for customers? It is imperative to find solutions that do not denigrate the vendor workforce for the business-as-usual operations while also building the carrier’s new networks.

An Innovative Model
Fortunately, there are organizations, such as KGPCo, that are investing in an alternative approach to solving this modern-day resource dilemma by focusing on a unique, employee-first model which, in turn, creates the ultimate value proposition for customers in today’s market. And a best practice of those organizations is that we infuse the market with new resources that are uniquely trained to operate in any of the companies’ different in-house business units such as Outside Plant, Inside Plant, Supply Chain, Mobility, or Cloud Services, and not just one specialized discipline.

Today, our engineers and Central Office (CO) installers have learned to plow and splice fiber optic cable in the OSP operation. We employ OSP cable splicing technicians who have learned linework, and linemen who have learned to splice fiber optic cable. These employees have multiple skill sets which are applicable to a multitude of projects, programs, customers and disciplines. This model provides customers with a stable, well-trained workforce that can react quickly to their exact needs in market. It eliminates the need for seeking out multiple vendors for each of these different services.

The innovation and investment in this human resource strategy is creating new options for both vendor employees and carriers in rural and remote parts of the country who have had a difficult time finding resources for support because it used to be cost-prohibitive. Consider a community where there was not enough volume in one specific discipline to sustain an Engineering, Construction, or Fulfillment firm. Now, a smaller service provider can call upon an employee who is an engineer, but he or she can also perform the work in the CO or Head End and is adept at performing customer installs. Truly, this process can be termed as Human Resource Innovation.

This also allows employees to find stability, whereas in the past they would have been faced with the daunting prospect of relocation. In both urban and rural areas, vendor employees are now transitioning seamlessly from network build deployment to ongoing network maintenance for the infrastructure that they helped build. Carriers are finding value in reduction of vendor-touches, fewer contracts to manage, and streamlined efficiency which ultimately translates into lesser costs.

The race for resources in today’s OSP landscape rages on with ongoing network builds of historic magnitudes across many carriers. These builds are transforming the delivery and consumption of information, communication, and entertainment, across all market segments from residential to enterprise. The race will be won by vendors that develop holistic human resource solutions that enable carriers to deploy their networks faster and more efficiently, all the while not impacting their routine daily operations. Thus, a truly comprehensive turn-key solution is one that offers solutions and services to cater to all customers’ needs, gives the vendor the ability to deliver these services in-house, under one umbrella in conjunction with a dynamic human resource component to help employees succeed short-term, long-term, and across a range of disciplines.

Indeed, if our people are our greatest asset, we need to empower them, train them, and present them with a sustainable and indelible value proposition — one that will pay off over and over for our customers, and the carriers who continue to build industry-leading networks.

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About Author

Rob Hughart is AVP – OSP Engineering and Construction, KGPCo. With over 26 years of experience in Telecom and MSOs, Rob is responsible for the leadership and operational success of KGPCo’s Outside Plant business. An industry veteran and OSP subject matter expert, his portfolio includes Engineering, Construction, Installation, Maintenance, Project Management, Results Execution, Vendor Management, Labor Relations, Dispatch, and Safety. Rob has overseen several successful, nationwide programs including large carrier builds in addition to regional and market-based broadband expansion builds. For more information, please email Robert.Hughart@kgpco.com or visit www.kgpco.com. You can also follow KGPCo on Twitter: @KGPCO1.

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