Keep Joint Use Agreements Compliant with Minimal Effort
Handling utility pole joint use agreements has typically involved building and managing relationships over time, and working closely with established third-party contacts. After negotiating a formal contract, the documents were often saved in a file cabinet and rarely referenced or updated.
Let’s look at why it’s important to be able to reference and maintain your joint use agreement information quickly and accurately.
There are more players to track
Thirty years ago, you could manage agreements casually because there were often only two attaching entities in town, and you had all the contract details memorized.
The world is more connected now, with many more attachers. Industry rulings like One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) allow third parties and contractors to install their own equipment on your facilities to expedite build-outs. New cellular and cable companies are putting up fiber and 5G wireless infrastructure at a record pace.
As more attachers join the game, it becomes harder to maintain informal relationships. Increasing joint use staff turnover, for either company, makes it even more difficult.
Handshake agreements need to be formalized
Have you participated in a joint use conference in the last few years? Notice how many specialist attorneys are actively involved? There’s a reason. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit, particularly if your data is incomplete.
The solution to this changing world is simple: digitize everything. You may already be doing this to some extent. However, whether your solution is a scanned copy of the paper agreement or a joint use management system, it’s important to make everything easily accessible for you and everyone else in your department.
How do you store your third-party company records and their contacts? What about agreements and billing-related information? Are you able to track insurance and bond data for every agreement? Recording the insurance coverage of a company you’ve approved to attach, before they climb your pole, solves many liability concerns should a safety issue ever arise.
You may have been told the winner in a joint use dispute is usually the one with the best data. When your joint use coordinator is confronted with a conflict, if they know exactly which agreement and permit apply to that attachment and can quickly pull up the signed agreement and go straight to the right section, they are strongly positioned to win.
Sureties should be current
Insurance and bond certificates expire, so you need to regularly collect updated certificates to ensure your attachers have active coverage. Agreements also require occasional renegotiation and updating. Unless you are in the habit of combing through records constantly, it’s easy to for you to miss an expired record. If the attacher causes a public safety issue or abandons their facilities, you don’t want to be the one responsible for their costs.
You can fix this problem by setting an automated reminder about upcoming expiring sureties. Make sure the notification gives you enough time to get contracts renewed or for your attachers to update their insurance. Getting ahead of such activities ensures your attachers remain in compliance and don’t suffer delays on things like new attachment requests.
Keeping your agreement-related information in your joint use management system gives you the ability to view compliance holistically. Do you have terms that require attachers to fix high severity violations within 30 days and medium severity violations within 2 years? Do you add fees for being out of compliance, or apply a discount for complying? Do you reject new permit requests until issues are resolved? These tools help you ensure public safety on your assets.
Having your data accurate, accessible and up to date lets you make the right decisions and avoid liability for injuries, property damage or even death.
Companies change over time
Acquisitions and mergers are common in the communications industry and can cause pole owners a lot of grief. For example, we frequently see pole owners with attachment records for “Bob’s Cable Company” that was purchased by two other companies over the years, and is now a Comcast attachment, even though it doesn’t say Comcast. The joint use administrator and field crews must remember that “Bob’s” equals “Comcast” in certain neighborhoods.
If your attachment data is digitized, you still need the ability to reflect attachment ownership changes and history. Often, this type of activity must be performed by someone in IT, and it becomes a low-priority backlogged task. Ideally, your solution would allow you to seamlessly perform your own bulk operations like transfer of attachment ownership.
Have questions? Let Joint Use 365 be the answer.
Joint Use 365 is the only joint use management system built on the latest Microsoft Azure cloud technologies. It comes out-of-the-box with the ability to manage all your attachers, contacts and agreement-related information.
Store insurance and bond information for all your agreements and be automatically notified of upcoming expirations. Automatically flag noncompliant agreements due to overdue payments, unresolved NESC violations or other issues.
Easily perform bulk operations, such as attachment ownership transfer, with our powerful Excel integration.
Let Joint Use 365 ensure you never have another expired insurance policy or outdated agreement.