What challenges are wireless construction and tower site services companies facing today?
Tymchyshyn: We're seeing a growing number of deployments in the wireless industry, mostly driven by 5G and small cells. It's estimated that the carriers will need to deploy 800,000 small cells by 2026 and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of work coming down the pipeline. Because of this, Wireless construction companies will find themselves managing a higher volume of deployments, but with a smaller margin of error because of the shorter timeframes involved in deploying small cells.
How have Software as a Service (SAAS) platforms evolved in recent years?
Tymchyshyn: SAAS platforms have been around for a while but were mostly targeted at specific horizontal functions such as sales and accounting. However, there's an emerging category of SAAS software, called Vertical SAAS, which is purpose-built for specific industries such as finance, health and now field construction. These platforms offer features that align with how these companies operate and can provide value right out of the box. This means the wireless industry now has access to tools that can improve productivity and profitability through structured planning, collaboration and real time visibility into financial and operational status.
How can field operations SAAS improve the efficiency of a wireless infrastructure company?
Tymchyshyn: Field Operations is an emerging SAAS category focused on managing the complex processes associated with deploying field crews for both short and long term projects. Budgeting, crew scheduling, photo checklists, material management and timekeeping automation are just some of the capabilities these platforms offer to improve efficiency for field operations. FieldClix also brings a heavy focus on planning to help minimize project risk and make sure field crews are set up for a successful deployment.
How can SAAS fit the different needs of each company?
Tymchyshyn: It's important for the SAAS platform to have the flexibility to adapt to processes and business policies specific to each company. Most SAAS platforms offer the ability to configure changes, but the flip side of that is the danger of requiring too much configuration, which will increase costs and delay the deployment. The benefit of Vertical SAAS platforms, like FieldClix, is that they align with the way companies already operate, which minimizes the amount of configuration and time required to go live and see a return on investment.
What size company should implement SAAS?
Tymchyshyn: In our experience, there seems to be an inflection point for companies that are managing more than four to six crews or operating in multiple geographies. If you're in a single market with a limited number of crews, you're probably going to be okay with spreadsheets and manual processes. However, many of our clients were experiencing substantial growth and found it became more and more challenging to manage deployments using spot solutions. That's when they typically start the search for a SAAS-based field operations solution.
How can a company manage resistance to change from employees in deploying a SAAS?
Tymchyshyn: Many of these companies have not implemented a software platform before, so they have certain preconceived ideas about how challenging it will be. We try to manage the perception versus reality by sharing a typical eight-week deployment timeline, which de-mystifies the process and helps them understand the impact on the organization, which is generally less than anticipated. Most importantly, we recommend rolling out features in manageable stages and ensuring that employees are using these features properly before moving on to the next phase.
How long does it take for company to realize cost savings?
Tymchyshyn: Usually, right after the eight-week implementation period, they are getting benefits because they're now deploying crews in a much more structured and efficient fashion.
Why did FieldClix focus on wireless field operations?
Tymchyshyn: We come from the wireless industry. We know the space very well. Our co-founder previously ran a national wireless construction firm and understands the challenges our clients are facing. We may eventually expand into other industries with similar dynamics, but our current focus is on improving FieldClix to address the needs and challenges specific to wireless deployments. As I said earlier, our view is the time is right for the wireless industry to adopt SAAS because of the growing number of small cell and 5G deployments.
Rob Tymchyshyn is co-founder of Fieldclix, a field operations platform designed to help improve productivity and profits for remote construction programs.