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    Five Best Practices for Multi-Site Tech Rollouts

    The key lies in adhering to a scope-of-work document.

    New technology can provide convenience stores with a competitive edge, but the size of a multi-site or national technology rollout can be intimidating. The key to effectively managing a multi-site rollout lies in the scope-of-work document. Adhering to a scope of work is important during any technology installation, but it becomes critical during a multi-site technology rollout where a lack of consistency among locations can cause major problems.

    Problems can arise out of variances between project sites, but these problems may not be identified until after the project is completed.

    Whether you are installing point-of-sale systems, wireless networks, voice and data cabling, telephone systems or complete network infrastructure systems at multiple locations, best practices can be built into the scope of work to prevent pitfalls. Here are five best practices that will help your rollout run smoothly.

    1) Insist on an enhanced scope of work
    The scope of work is the foundation for any technology rollout. However, not every scope of work is created equal. A scope of work might look detailed on the surface, yet it may include areas of ambiguity. Many end users think they have a detailed scope of work until the project is completed and there are variances between each location.

    Whether you are drafting your own scope of work or hiring a company to develop a scope of work for you, it is crucial to eliminate ambiguity. The key to developing a clear scope of work lies not just in examining the details that are in the document, but also looking for the details that are not in the document. Below are a few examples of areas of ambiguity that must be defined before a project commences.

    • Technical specifications -- Reduce ambiguity by including detailed technology requirements in the scope of work. If you need cameras for a security system, specify if the video needs to be in color or black and white. Include how many pixels you require. Don’t forget to include aesthetic requirements. Does the camera need to be a certain color to blend in with surroundings? Does the camera need to meet specific dimensions to fit certain areas.
    • Schedules -- For a multi-site rollout, the timeline needs to include more information than how much time is allotted for each project site. A complete schedule must include allowances for holidays, building closings, etc. For projects with strict deadlines, the scope of work may even need to include an hour-by-hour schedule for each project site.
    • Communication -- For complex multi-site technology rollouts, you may need to add a communication schedule in the scope of work. A communication schedule that includes frequent team meetings will help you stay informed of the project’s progress, and it will also keep the national rollout provider accountable.

    2) Base requirements on needs, not marketing hype
    Is your scope of work based on your organization’s needs or is it manufacturer centric? If you are including a specific brand of product in your scope of work at the suggestion of a manufacturer sales representative without comparing it to other options, you may be in danger of ending up with a manufacturer-centric rollout.

    Instead of focusing on specific brands, start by developing requirements. Once you have determined the technical requirements, search for the brands that best meet your requirements and your budget.

    3) Standardize non-standardized procedures
    No matter how thorough your scope of work is, variances in your rollout might creep in if you are not careful. If you hire multiple, unrelated installers, there will be variances in each project because each company has its own processes, definitions and standards. Even if you hire the same company to perform all installations, there is still a risk of variances emerging between job sites because each technician has his or her own way of doing things. Even contractors who follow industry standards will still create variances in non-standard tasks.

    Fortunately, these variances can be managed by a quality control process. Look for a multi-site rollout provider with a quality control process that establishes a set of company standards and procedures that are followed by each technician at every job site. These standards and procedures should be incorporated into the scope of work.

    By standardizing non-standardized procedures, technicians’ personal preferences on how to complete an installation are minimized and/or eliminated. Training should also take place to make sure technicians are up to speed on the latest industry standards and codes, as well as the most recent internal standards.

    4) Confirm permitting
    When it comes to permits, it is better to confirm than assume. The scope of work should detail who is responsible for obtaining permits. Just because a contractor works in a particular state or city does not necessarily mean they are up to speed on permitting. Many end users neglect to ask contractors if they acquired the proper permits, resulting in possible fines down the road.

    Permitting is an important issue because at the end of the day, the risk falls back on the end user.

    5) Request as-built drawings
    How do you know if each technology installation has been completed according to the scope of work? Request as-built drawings for each job site. As-built drawings reflect the actual work that was completed and show any changes that were made during the project. Include a request for as-built drawings in your scope of work.

    An as-built package should include:

    • Final floor plan drawings showing the location of cabling and conduits.
    • Cable schedule that defines the cable type, identifier, distance and location.
    • Elevation drawings and/or detailed drawings of equipment installed.
    • Cable and equipment test results or certification documentation.

    Bob Eskew, RCDD, is the founder and CEO of Automated Systems Design Inc. (ASD), which provides manufacturing, management and maintenance of nationwide custom turnkey Information Transport Systems. ASD manufactures iCAT-ITS copper offerings and iGLO-ITS fiber optic products. For details, visit www.asd-usa.com.

    Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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