Client Representation: Ensuring Value and the Best Outcomes for the Client
As published in the July Issue of SubTel Forum Magazine
July 26, 2022
By Hector Hernandez and Glenn Hovermale
In our industry one of the most important phases for the implementation of a Submarine Cable System, is the installation of the system. Ensuring the installation is conducted professionally, safely and in accordance with the Purchaser’s technical specifications are the most critical aspects to consider as a purchaser/system operator. To this point, it is vital for system purchasers to provide Client Representation to observe, report and document the installation process. Client Representation is not simply a few personnel on the vessels, it is a team the includes in-field Client Representatives paired with in-office Marine Coordinator, Technical Experts and travel logistics and accounting administration support.
WFN has provided these services for more than 20 years, which continue to be a primary focus for our business. We go to great lengths to ensure our team has deep technical knowledge, experienced and highly motivated to pursue quality work with a great attitude, which we believe is key to ensure our clients enjoy the best experience and value for this effort.
This article is intended to provide some insight to the process of Client Representation and its complexity, while illustrating the value. The following describes daily reporting, the role of the Marine Coordinator and other various associated activities.
CLIENT REPRESENTATIVE DAILY PROGRESS REPORTING
The System Supplier provides daily progress reports (DPR) during the marine survey and installation operations. The Client Representative reviews any such Daily Reports related to marine activities and provides feedback to the supplier, if necessary, or accepts the report. The Client Representative notifies the Client’s Project Manager on a real time basis of any issues or disputes arising from the Daily Reports, along with an assessment of the situation. The Client Representative also produces a DPR exclusively for the Client, for the purpose of keeping its own record of any weather down time, transit during route survey, issues and document any activity that veers from the agreed commercial baseline for judgement against Supplier’s claim for any marine activities related contract variation. The Client Representative summarizes the daily reports and prepares a weekly report for the Client.
Client Representation covers every aspect of the installation process including:
- Route/In-shore/ Burial assessment surveys
- Finalization of Cable System cable route
- Route clearance
- Cable loading
- Main lay and shore end installations
- HDD construction phases
- Post lay burial & inspection
The Client Representative is responsible to observe and report with a duty to escalate immediately to the Client any issues or concerns that are out of specification, unsafe to personnel and/or the environment. At the end of operation or marine activity, the Client Representative reviews each Final Report, providing a professional assessment to the Client for further comments.
WFN’s Client Representative then uploads the Daily Progress Report (DPR) to our PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
MARINE COORDINATION OPERATIONAL OVERSIGHT
The Marine Coordinator is responsible for overseeing all marine activities, scheduling, and collaboration between the Supplier and Client as required. The Marine Coordinator’s primary focus is to ensure Client Representation is conducted with a high-level of efficiency, consistency, and quality.
The Marine Coordinator monitors and documents all notable events associated with all the following activities in the Operations Log to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Permitting and Cable Crossings
The Marine Coordinator oversees, along with the Client Representative that all marine operations and cable crossings are conducted in accordance with the proper permitting and crossing agreements. They work with the Supplier to ensure all necessary operational permits and cable crossing agreements are in place and that proper notifications are provided, per the permits and crossing agreements. The Marine Coordinator then uploads all Permit and Cable Crossing related documents for review and as a record to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
The primary responsibility of the Marine Coordinator and Client Representatives is to notify the Client as soon as possible of any issues or concerns arising from marine related activities that deviate from the commercial agreement, jeopardize personnel safety, environmental safety and is not in the best interest of the Client.
Marine Working Group Support
The Marine Coordinator attends MWG meetings, on invitation as required by Client, to support the Client with the review and responses to the Suppliers reporting and proposals based on observations and knowledge of the related marine works. The MWG oversees each phase of the system installation and proposes adjustments based on real time information and discoveries during the specific operations.
The Marine Coordinator then uploads the MWG Meetings Log to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
OTHER CRITICAL ACTIVITIES
The previous sections addressed the primary areas of concern at a higher level. The following items are more detailed activities that are just as critical, each inherent with risks to the system installation and possibly with long-term implications to the system performance over time.
Cable Load-out Daily Progress Report
The Client Representative accomplishes the Cable Load-out Daily Progress Report to ensure that the cable is handled and stowed in accordance with the Supplier’s specifications for the cable.
The Client Representative joins the Cableship prior to the commencement of loading of the cable. The Client Representatives observes the cable loading operations to assure that the cable is handled and stowed in accordance with the Supplier’s specifications for the cable. The Client Representatives is available on a 24-hour basis to observe the cable loading operation; nominally on 12-hour day shifts basis. However, should cable loading extend beyond twelve hours; the Client Representatives is on call during the next twelve hours in case Supplier experiences an event during the load which requires the Client Representative’s observation. The Client Representative then uploads the Cable Load-out Daily Progress Report to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Cable Load-out C-OTDR Test Report
The Client Representative accomplishes a Cable Load-out C-OTDR Test Report to identify any deficiencies discovered after reviewing the pre- and post-load C-OTDR testing of the Supplier’s specifications for the cable and documented for future reference in a single summary document. The Client Representative then uploads the Cable Load-out C-OTDR Test Report to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Cable Load-out Summary Report
The Client Representative accomplishes a Cable Load-out Summary Report to ensure that the cable is handled and stowed in accordance with the Supplier’s specifications for the cable and documented for future reference in a single summary document. The Client Representative then uploads the Cable Load-out Summary Report to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Cableship Daily Progress Report
The Client Representative provides a Daily Progress Report to highlight installation activities with daily frequency. The Client Representative is on board the Cableship to observe the installation operations on behalf of Client. The Client Representatives are responsible to ensure that Supplier conducts the installation operations in line with the agreed/published procedures, and adequate records are taken to ensure that a sufficiently detailed report can be compiled for future maintenance purposes. Also, that the installation is conducted in such a way as to ensure the long-term reliability of the system.
The Client Representatives provides a report documenting observations made during the load and lay operations. The Client Representative then uploads the Daily Progress Report to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Cable Routing Review Report
The Client Representative provides a Cable Routing Review Report to provide a simple, illustrative single page review of the cumulative installation progress, highlighting segments installed and their respective percentage complete. The Client Representative then uploads the Cable Routing Review Report to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Marine Installation Review Report
The Client Representative provides to the MWG members a Marine Installation Review Report reviewing the marine installation accomplished by the Supplier. He/she reviews Supplier’s marine installation activities and provide feedback to the Client Project Manager. The prime objective of the Marine Installation Review Report is to ensure that the marine installation is adequate for future maintenance of the system. The Client Representative then uploads the Marine Installation Report Review to the PM 2.0 Cable System Dashboard for the purpose of distribution, retrieval, and archiving.
Effective Client Representation is crucial. At every phase of the installation there are risks of damage to the cable and system components. The damage can be small, and seem irrelevant, but as they accumulate and depending on the depth of the damage it could affect the performance of the system over time. Meaning if these incidents are not observed, documented, and corrected the system purchased, installed, and accepted today may experience performance degradation or faults in the future with no commercial or legal options to mitigate or recoup a commercial loss.
Therefore, it is critical for Submarine System Purchasers to provide their own qualified Client Representation to best protect their investment and commercial interest.
About the Authors
Hector Hernandez is Projects Director of WFN Strategies and a Project Management Professional (PMP™) specialist and possesses more than 20 years’ experience and knowledge in submarine cable systems, including Arctic and offshore Oil & Gas submarine fiber systems. He possesses extensive experience in ICT (Information & Communications Technology), including data networking/hosting (Data Centers), information technologies, fiber optic and wireless networks/services. As Projects Director, he is responsible for on-going project supervision of applicable WFN Strategies staff and is the primary point of contact with customers.
Business disciplines include program/project management, planning, engineering, product development and operational experience. Strengths include developing, managing and leading multi-functional teams (strong soft skills); problem solving under pressure, quality assurance, risk management and effective communications across all business units, including executive management and clients. He is founded on Total Quality Management and continuous improvement, utilizing Waterfall, Agile, PMI and mixed project management methodologies to align company resources and achieve strategic goals. He is the former Program Manager for the Quintillion Subsea Cable implementation, and is an American citizen based in San Antonio, Texas USA.
Glenn Hovermale is Construction & Marine Coordinator at WFN Strategies with more than 20 years of consulting experience in undersea cables, including marine survey, Oil & Gas and offshore wind industries. He has held client representative, offshore project management, and survey positions, and he possesses experience working aboard SubCom, Alcatel, Korea Telecom, and Global Marine cable ships as well as Fugro and EGS survey vessels.