Real work is more than pushing papers around

The article that begins on page 17 discusses how to manage certain types of projects that can be particularly complex—nationwide rollouts.

by Patrick McLaughlin

The article that begins on page 17 discusses how to manage certain types of projects that can be particularly complex—nationwide rollouts. That’s when an end-user organization with multiple, geographically dispersed sites is installing or upgrading technology across many or all of those sites.

The impetus for the article has been years in the making. It began a few years ago when Ireceived a call from a C-level executive at a well-known home-improvement-warehouse type organization. Specifically, he wanted to know where he could find a cabling-contracting company that was truly nationwide.

The executive was responsible for the information technology inretail stores across the country, and was confounded at the amount of time and energy it took him to findcabling labor to work in the individual stores. The only suggestions I had for him were organizations that healready knew about—those withoperations in many large cities and other parts of the country. But, weboth agreed, no contracting firm was truly nationwide.

More recently, I received a call from a rather unhappy cabling contractor who was on the other end of a similar scenario, yet was no less confounded. He had been hired to conduct work for the local office of a non-profitorganization that had sites in several parts of the United States. The organization did not directly hire him; rather, it hired a project-management firm, which in turn hired him to do the work at this particular site.

When the contractor began the job, he had no idea that he’d end up like the end-user in one precarious way: It turned out this was a non-profitundertaking for him. That wasn’t the intention, of course; but when the project-management firm collected payment from the end user then failed to pay the installer who did the work, the installer was out of luck and out several thousand dollars.

Not surprisingly, the contractor was bitter about the experience. Hereferred to the now-defunct, impossible-to-reach project-management firm as a “paper pusher” because they didn’t do any actual field work.

The fact that there are no true nationwide cabling installation companies has given rise to frustrations such as these. But while business dynamics in our industry change briskly, one characteristic has not changed—thenecessity of knowing the company with which you are entering a businessrelationship. The better you know the company, the better your chances of making it through the relationship profitably.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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