Consistent Quality Assurance

Construction tip submitted by Admin

When it comes to building Wireless Communication Sites, consistency is the key to maintaining high quality standards. It is understood that every site will incorporate certain unique aspects of design and development criteria based on location, entitlement constraints and coverage objectives. However, the basic elements required for any given site to operate, does not change. All sites require a mounting platform for the antennas, an area to place the equipment and a source of power. The final configuration of these three elements is what makes each site a unique entity. So, how can we consistently maintain high standards of quality if each site is unique? It’s actually easier than you might think if we can understand how our brains function when it comes to “consistency”.

Let’s talk about “LOOKING” and “SEEING”.

What is the difference between “seeing” and “looking”? It has been said that we “look” with our eyes but we “see” with our minds. It’s easy to look at things around us but maybe not as easy to see those same things. Our vision works primarily by noticing the differences in the world around us. That is, as we meander through life we become familiar with our world and “look” at it basically as a snapshot, a photograph  that only “looks” different if some part of it has changed, and then only if that change is definitive enough for our brains to recognize it! So, when that picture changes, we have to consciously “see” the difference in order to make it fit back into that familiar snapshot.

So, when it comes time for inspecting the completed communication site, we need to understand the “looking and seeing” principle. If, in fact, every site will be “unique” in some ways then it will be incumbent on the inspector to be able to recognize those differences and to evaluate the impact they may have to overall quality. It is one thing to have a difference but quite another to have that difference amount to anything more than a “cosmetic” deviation.

The good news is that the overall principle works both ways. That is, if the site does have deviations, (which inevitably it will) then as long as the deviation is minor, (cosmetic) then the impact to quality will be minimal at worst and undetectable at best. So, does it matter if there are deviations? Yes. But, does it really matter if, in the long run, nobody will recognize it?

I know what you are thinking. Nothing is really considered “wrong” if it is not noticed. That could not be farther from the truth. Wrong is wrong! However, in order to not fall into the “justification trap”, certain ground rules need to be established relative to quality site construction.

The first rule is: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

A lot of companies fall into the trap of insisting that every obscure detail of every rule is required to be adhered to regardless of the overall effect it may or may not have on the functionality of the site. Is consistency important? Of course, but if the detail in question prevents the plan from being achieved then perhaps it could be occasionally overlooked.

The second rule is: Clearly Define the Objectives!

It is true that without a plan it is impossible to predict the outcome. But your plan should incorporate ALL of the criteria relative to your objectives. Make sure your plan is realistic and achievable. Is the plan too aggressive relative to schedule?  Has the plan captured the essence of the market constraints? Is management willing to “buy into” the plan? Everybody wants to have the best sites but if you are not willing to spend the money then you will need to settle for something less. That is not to say that you cannot get good sites inexpensively but you may not get everything you want if you do not spend the money. Conversely, money does not guarantee quality but it definitely helps!

The third rule is: Assemble the Right Team!

This rule ties into the second rule: If you want overall positive results you need to be willing to expend the resources to help insure the results. So many companies today separate the planning and decision making process from those that are tasked with implementing the plan resulting in less than expected results. If the plan is not realistic, and if that plan is recognized by the front line personnel as un-realistic then, nobody will happy. So, the “team” consists of ALL personnel including the decision makers. Communication Site development is not rocket science but it is a unique process that requires specific expertise among the various disciplines involved in the process. Assemble the team with as many experienced personnel as is reasonably prudent. The overall outcome will be better for it.

Remember: Site development is NOT widget production! The development process, particularly in this day and age, is a highly regulated and somewhat complex process with a multitude of influences, decisions and external forces totally beyond our control. The prudent operator will recognize this fact by creating a development plan that does not focus on the things they cannot have, or worse yet, insisting that the minutia of the plan be arbitrarily be enforced. Neither makes any practical sense and can wreak havoc on production when both are competing against each other!

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