To do business with certain carriers or tower owners, contractors have to prove they comply with certain requirements. The process of determining compliance, which is performed by third parties, such as Avetta, Browz and ISNetworld, however, is thick with tension.
NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association conducted the “3rd Party Compliance Company Experience Survey” in May 2020, asking its members about the onboarding “pain points” and the effect that these practices have on member contractor firms.
“As the work gets more diverse, onboarding has become a challenging issue,” said Todd Schlekeway, NATE president and CEO. “We are working with the on-boarding companies and the tier-one wireless companies to streamline the process and make it easier to navigate.”
The time it takes to complete the onboarding process varies from 6 to 10 hours (18.4 percent) to more than 20 to 40 hours (28.43 percent) up to a period in excess of 40 hours (22.06 percent). Most renewals take 6 to 10 hours (30.54 percent). A typical response time from a third-party compliance company to a problem is within one week (58.91 percent).
“Our typical member doesn’t have the staff to spend hours and hours uploading all this documentation. We just want to make the process easier at the end of the day,” Schlekeway said.
The survey quantifies anecdotal information about the tension between the contractor companies and the third-party compliance companies. More than 73 percent of the survey respondents said they did not feel as though third-party compliance companies treat them as customers, and 71 percent said that their services match somewhat with the questionnaires.
“The survey is a benchmark that we can refer to as we seek to make favorable change,” Schlekeway said. “We’re working toward a positive solution. I think it is something we can all tackle collectively.”
The top three issues or pain points the respondents would like to see addressed include costs, the number of points of contact and customer service. Better explanations of the process status, non-applicable requirements and insurance requirements were also among the issues contractors would like to see addressed.
“If there is a red flag in the onboarding process, contractors need a quick resolution. It delays their ability to work for that customer,” Schlekeway said.
The NATE survey said more than 73 percent of respondents are in favor of their wireless customers standardizing the baseline onboarding requirements, safety manual, training requirements and certifications. To aid in the compliance process, NATE is updating its safety manual and cross-referencing it with all of the onboarding requirements.
“At NATE, we are investing in this effort in a major way ourselves by creating a more standardized, robust safety manual that our members can use as a reference in their efforts to comply,” Schlekeway said. “The updated NATE safety and health manual, which will be available to members, will be in line with many of the requirements of the onboarding companies.”
NATE is already having success in meeting with the tier-one carriers to work on streamlining the onboarding process, according to the Schlekeway.
“We are going to bat for our members,” he said. “There is some positive traction on the part of the carriers to standardize some of what they are requiring to make it is consistent within our industry.
Schlekeway emphasized that the survey is a snapshot in time concerning compliance issues and should be seen as a baseline for future improvements.
“Our long-term goal is to eliminate the pain points and reduce some of the costs of the service,” he said.