Smart Building

Cabling Projects: Do You Know Who Your Customer Really Is?

Henry Franc
A lot more goes into a cabling project than just running cables: Timelines, budgets, communication, material and labor coordination, permits, documentation and so many other factors go into ensuring a success cabling project.


But who’s responsible for making sure all these things actually happen?


Once a contract is signed, it’s the project manager’s job to fulfill those obligations while bringing value to the customer without sacrificing their expectations—and reducing waste and rework along the way. Doesn’t sound easy, does it?


Project management can make or break a cabling project, but many common problems can be avoided with basic cable and connectivity knowledge.


Take, for example, a project manager who accidentally orders hundreds of miles of multimode outside plant fiber instead of singlemode because they didn’t understand the difference between the two. Making sure project managers understand the fundamentals can prevent costly, time-consuming errors like this one.


A focused, well-trained project manager at the helm means a cabling project will run smoothly. If a project lacks someone in this role—or asks someone without the right skillset to step in—problems are likely to follow.


To help your project managers manage cabling projects effectively, Belden is creating virtual training and education specifically for this group of professionals. As we pull the content together, there are certain points we think are worth sharing with our blog readers, too.


For example: the way cabling products are procured and how that can impact management of a project.


Each procurement model requires a different mindset and philosophy. The project manager’s job is to apply common sense and take time to understand everybody’s frame of reference to mitigate risk and achieve desired project outcomes.


When conversations turn to projects, sometimes procurement types get muddled with types of design, types of construction management and types of contracts. While they’re all related, they’re also different.


When it comes to worrying about the type of procurement being used for a project, however, there’s something you need to figure out first: Pinpoint the decision-makers on your project and how the products for the project will be approved and procured.


Although we often think of the end-user as the customer—the bank, the government agency, the hospital, the stadium or the airport, for example—that may not be who you’re actually working for.


If you happen to be working for the end-user, then you have a direct relationship. But many projects involve a series of indirect relationships. While the end-user is involved and can say “no,” they can’t necessarily say “yes.” They’re consulted throughout the process, but they aren’t the ones held accountable or responsible for making procurement decisions.


Instead, the responsible party is often a third-party agent. These agents could be design-build firms, for example. Or they may be general contractors or systems integrators. In order to manage a project properly, always remember your indirect relationships and who’s in charge of procurement at the end of the day.


As an example, let’s consider a large bank that’s constructing a new tower. The bank will likely hire a general contractor, and there may be consultants, architects, designers, systems integrators and other trade contractors involved as well.


Depending on the procurement method the bank uses, and the status of those indirect relationships, the person who gets to say “yes” is the true decision-maker. In our example, the decision-maker likely won’t be the bank itself.


Sometimes it’s easy to focus too much on decision-makers. After all, they’re the ones making the purchasing decisions! While decision-makers are obviously important, you should also be sure to focus on influencers as well. Oftentimes, the end-user is an influencer.


In our bank example, you may gather input from the bank, consultants and other trade contractors. But, if you’re working for the project’s general contractor, then your procurement agreement is with them. They must give you final directions to follow.


Although you’re responsible to the bank and your stakeholders—and aligned with their goals as well—the project manager also needs to make sure they keep the general contractor informed in a consultative, collaborative way.


In our next blog on this topic (coming in a few weeks), we’ll walk through three procurement types and how they can impact cabling projects:


  1. Fixed-bid
  2. Variable (T&M and allowances)
  3. Joint-risk


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