TEST Communications, a regional installation contracting firm based in Slidell, LA, recently selected field operations software from FieldClix to support its expansion plans.
Founded in 2005, the company offers communications service providers a full range of network infrastructure implementation services including: Line & Antenna, Microwave, Structural Modifications, and Construction Management.
“We started small and intentionally kept it small over the years,” says Darrin Wagner, TEST Communications President and CEO. “We currently operate in the Gulf Coast region but I’m excited about our growth plan.” In the next couple of weeks, TEST Comm will open a Houston, TX office and expects to add four crews and a management team by year-end.
The company does all phases of construction work for major wireless carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile. It has Master Service Agreements with equipment suppliers such as Ericsson, and Nokia, and the Big 3 tower companies. Wagner says that the company has a lot of line and antenna work in the Gulf Coast with T-Mobile on the L600/L700 project.
TEST Comm also performs tower modifications and develops “raw land” for new cell sites along with tower construction and maintenance.
The company has 42 people on staff now but is hiring every week.
“This line of work is not for everyone. We have high safety and quality standards that we expect our employees to achieve. Our core values are in the name T-E-S-T: Teamwork, Excellence, Safety, Timely,” explains Wagner. “We are training 3-4 people a week to get them up to speed. More than pushing these guys through a class just to check boxes and put boots on the ground, we make sure they fully understand and can demonstrate the safety practices we teach while reinforcing ‘Excellence’ in our work quality.” The company conducts indoor and outdoor tower climbing training and is currently building a larger training facility, set to open in 1Q21.
With the workload increasing, management is challenged with managing the data volume and workflow.
“We needed something to help us manage our operations more efficiently, track field activities to achieve milestones, and ensure we are providing ‘Timely’ deliverables in the form of close outs,” says Wagner. “We were using several different apps to track vehicles and equipment, prepare time logs and for bookkeeping, communicating, etc.”
Field supervisors submit daily reports typically via email with Excel spreadsheets and receipts attached.
“It was a challenge for new techs to learn seven to eight different apps along with all of the safety and technical topics that we were expecting them to retain. It was information overload for them,” he adds. “We wanted to consolidate everything onto one platform. We needed the metrics but were doing everything manually.”
TEST Comm sought a field operations software platform that kept all the data in one place so managers could get daily metrics and reporting from a dashboard for different work scenarios.
Wagner says they evaluated several systems and were excited to choose FieldClix, a field operations software platform purpose-built for wireless construction. “Their demo hit on a lot of our pain points.”
He explains that the FieldClix system is configurable to meet their specific needs. “Once the decision was made, there was a lengthy adoption cycle and a lot to learn. But the system does a lot!”
“We’re getting all our guys on board,” he says. “Time keeping has changed. For instance, they used to manually submit time through an emailed report every day. FieldClix establishes a geofence at the work locations and allows for accurate and automatic time reporting.”
Working with the FieldClix system for only a few months, Wagner says they are already reaping benefits of constant feedback from the field. The dashboard shows the work progress percentages along with other features such as completed safety checklists. Management sees the data in real time versus receiving a paper copy at the end of the day.
More important, the data are accurate. Wagner says they can look at the metrics and see the impact on budgeting and company financials such as profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flows. “We’re able to make financial decisions around the data.” He points out that new people can start fresh with the system so their learning curve is shorter.
Rob Tymchyshyn, CEO of New York, NY-based FieldClix comments, “Darrin and his team understand how field operations software helps address the challenges associated with managing a large volume of remote projects and we’re committed to supporting their success and growth.”
by John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor