So, you own or operate a telecom site portfolio or have already secured an order to start rolling out sites in the near future. Alternatively, you are thinking of carving out your tower assets into an independent entity to reduce opex and monetize the portfolio. In any of these scenarios, as your business starts to grow, it quickly becomes clear that the amount of data, processes, people, and tasks required to create a successful and profitable portfolio is huge. You realize that maintaining numerous spreadsheets and a host of disparate software tools is simply going to increase the complexity of your workload. This is when you realize the potential of a comprehensive site management tool that can not only manage all your site data, but also provide value-added features to enable you to reach your goal of optimized tower operations and profitability faster.
A number of site management solutions are available in the market, allowing tower management teams to access comprehensive information about tower assets, revenue, and costs through a single platform. Here are some of the most important features to look for when selecting a site or tower management platform.
- Site portfolio management: Create a centralized repository.
Information is king and even more so for a complex tower portfolio. Site management tools preserve historical business data for all sites as well as update data iteratively to keep track of all activities and asset changes on the sites. Some tools provide a map-based view to locate individual sites while others provide text-based search capabilities. In either case, they provide quick and intuitive access to site information in a few mouse clicks, enabling you to effectively visualize and manage sites, assets, projects, revenue, costs, and more!
- Project management: Put your project managers in the driver’s seat.
Site management platforms typically provide project management as a key feature. They provide project managers the capability of planning, executing, and monitoring various projects, through visibility of project schedules and pending tasks. Visual Gantt charts, milestone trackers with SLAs, and flexible task assignment empower project managers to get more done, in less time and with full transparency.
- Process management: Define how your work force gets work done.
For successful and predictable project management, built-in, automated workflows are key. You need to ensure that your business processes are automated with purpose-built workflows that can be quickly adapted to the dynamic changes of your business. Look for solutions with integrated BPM engines and configuration capability to ensure that your projects are managed with predictability and adhere to the defined SLAs.
- Asset management: Know what equipment is on your sites.
As a telecom site operator or owner, you need full visibility of your site asset inventory, both active and passive. Knowing where each asset is located, how it is used, and when maintenance is required, ensures availability and continuity of your business operations at all time. Site management tools provide this visibility down to the most granular level, enabling you to visualize, logically categorize, update, and track overall assets on a site as well as a project. A graphical representation of the tower infrastructure, asset placement, and floor plans is an added advantage which gives complete visualization of what equipment is on the site.
- Revenue and cash flow: Track your profitability.
In order to scale your business and maintain profitability, you need to be able to track all commercial contracts, maximize revenue, and optimize operational costs. This includes managing property and tenancy leases, ensuring accurate payments, and tracking timely renewals of contracts. Comprehensive site management solutions enable you not only to track your contracts but also link them to installed equipment to ensue efficient monetization and ROI. Accuracy and flexibility in managing billing mechanisms across multiple markets, and the ability to incorporate indexation, discounts, forex conversion, and complex payment mechanisms are crucial to ensure the profitability of your business.
- Reporting: Take better decisions through business intelligence visualization.
In order to build a well-informed management team that can proactively handle every change and challenge in your business, you need access to the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your site portfolio or network. Business intelligence reports and knowledge-rich dashboards are essential to track and visualize the key performance metrics of a tower portfolio with ease and speed. Site management platforms not only hold your site database, they also provide the capability to run on-demand reports and dashboards, for both operational and commercial data.
- Field apps: Empower the mobile worker.
A wide range of standalone mobile apps is available to complete, record, and track onsite work done by your mobile field force. These mobile apps help your engineers take geo-tagged photos, capture serial numbers, and complete surveys while doing various tasks such as audits, maintenance, and hand-over. A value-added benefit is to have a fully integrated mobile app that serves as an extension of your site database and site management platform, ensuring a single source of truth across all site data.
- Document management: Maintain all your documents in a single location.
Irrespective of your role in the organization, chances are that you are dealing with a magnitude of site-related documents every day. The digitalization and automation of your operations will reduce your paper workload by a fraction but there is still no escaping vital documents such as contracts, site photos, drawings, and more. Site management tools need to provide built-in capability for managing your documents from a single location, stored in logical hierarchy, with support for various document types. Support for versioning of documents, electronic signatures, and archiving to manage storage are additional features that can enhance your productivity and streamline production.
- Role-based access control: Manage who can see what.
As site managers, you need to be able to control who can access your business data and to what degree with user roles and authentication controls for both internal and external users. Site management solutions support role-based access, enabling you to segregate commercial and operational data based on the functional group that accesses it. Many of them also provide single-sign on and 2-factor authentication to enable secure access to your business data.
- Configurable framework: Adapt your solution dynamically.
Even if you choose a commercial off-the-shelf product for your site management needs, chances are you will need to customize it to match your organizational specifications which include the data structure, the business workflows, reports, and more. Having a configurable layer in your solution stack will reduce the total cost of adapting a COTS solution. Moreover, the configurable framework will empower your IT team to manage the adaptations themselves and reduce dependency on the solution vendor.