Most grant application assistance tools available today are generic and provide only information or guidance on limited aspects of infrastructure grant requirements and application processes. Service providers are left to their own devices to seek advice or identify gaps in expertise or resources required to win grant awards or to design and implement systems targeted by the grants. For example, some resources assist a service provider in the grant writing process, but beyond that, they only offer a list of additional resources for the service provider to pursue. These generic funding locator and application tools lack guidance tailored to the specific needs of the service provider’s capabilities or limitations. The Leading Path subject matter experts provide skills to bridge the gaps and help manage the end-to-end process for projects putting grant resources to work to expand and better serve your customer base.
LP can be your partner during the grant writing process and walk you through the steps:
- Access to partners to evaluate the existing network infrastructure and develop a preliminary design for the target architecture that can be certified and included in the grant proposal.
- Work with your business development team to assess and document the business case and market opportunity for network expansion.
- Ensure that the bids are reasonable and realistic.
LP has access to vendors that will enable a service provider to complete this phase of the project promptly.
Once a grant has been awarded, the service provider will need immediate access to resources to design the following aspects of the network cost-effectively:
- Long haul fiber
- Internet drain
- Last mile access
- In addition to Internet access:
- Telephony – Required by many grant programs.
- There may be an opportunity to offer additional services such as video.
LP has the in-house expertise and access to partners to plan for implementation and free your resources to manage daily operations and pursue other strategic opportunities. Some of the components of the planning phase are as follows:
- Manage the vendor selection process and perform hardware/software qualification and testing.
- Perform site, identification, qualification, and backbone connectivity (walkouts)
- Assist and track the permitting process
- Automate processes when needed to reduce the need for meetings and enable data gathering to measure progress.
- Develop project plans to achieve targets to comply with grant requirements.
- Stay on schedule for the construction of the following:
- Long haul fiber construction
- FTTP Construction (laying the fiber)
- FTTP shelf deployment (Install the fiber access terminal)
- Customer installation
To facilitate customer acquisition and retention, LP can assist the service provider in developing processes, tools, and training in any of the following areas:
- Sales and order processing
- Customer installation and Close-out
- Telephony provisioning and porting, if offered
- Capacity Management
- Customer troubleshooting – remote and onsite
- NOC Methods and procedures
Each funding source has its requirements for periodic compliance reports on the objective of the grant. LP can assist with the following tasks:
- Gather the required data for the KPIs specified in the grant.
- Identify bottlenecks and forecast the likelihood of achieving a milestone.
- Develop and implement transparent and effective processes, including a system of accounting, procurement policies, internal controls, and records retention
- Examine existing processes and internal controls to identify areas vulnerable to fraud
- Conduct training sessions to educate staff on risks
- Implement an internal compliance and ethics program that encourages the recognition and reporting of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement
- Check that all financial and performance reports are supported with the required documentation
- Conduct monthly bank reconciliations to identify errors or irregularities