A Message for Infrastructure Owner Management

A Message for Infrastructure Owner Management

“The sooner an initiative or project is safely and competently completed, the sooner it’s operational, serving its purpose and returning our investment.”

As we awkwardly emerge from this pandemic, there is reason for cautious optimism. One positive gleaned from the “Stay at Home” order was the improvisation of getting things done in non-standard and innovative ways.

Having spent decades in conventional contracted professional services to Infrastructure, a few years ago the 4C Solutions Team set out to develop a new delivery method for those same services. We took the strengths of convention, dispensed with its inefficiencies, and built a streamlined approach to contracted Capital Project and O&M support.

Moving forward, owner entities with plans to expand, repair, and maintain their assets, will be compelled to do more, with less. Purpose and capitalization will be scrutinized. The labor market will be tight again. In-House staff will be smaller, but better. Yet, the necessity for Infrastructure improvement will be constant, when not accelerating. And, while there will always be situations calling for conventional EPC-EPCM and traditional consulting support, we now have an invaluable option to add to the Client toolbox.

The 4C Platform is uniquely tailored to Infrastructure Owner Operators, providing direct access to, and engagement with, qualified Independent Senior Professionals and Support Services Companies. We’ve carved the fat out of the equation. More of your organization’s budgeted labor and expense dollars will actually flow to job execution and less to third-party SG&A. Your deployed capital will go farther and last longer while giving you the latitude to competitively compensate those engaged with, and deployed to, your objective. In short, costs go down and the quality of labor goes up. Efficient execution of the goal is the end result.

4C disrupts the usual approach to outside support utilization and the benefits are substantial.

At a glance:

  1. Resource Consolidation – If your organization presently retains multiple contracted service providers, professionals and craft-persons engaged under multiple MSA’s, this can mean multiple accounts payable, disparate budget and milestone reporting, multiple 1099’s, and, importantly, more silos to navigate, with more budget blowing, schedule elongating, change orders. Engage 4C under a single MSA, assign those resources to our Platform as 4C Sub-Consultants and all of the above disappears. One Invoice, by code. One Labor & Expense Progress Report by Job. One year-end 1099. One Conduit. One Umbrella.
  2. Resource Facilitation – 4C’s Management knows well the arena in which you fight to win. Once your organization has the objective targeted, its projected budget, scope, and non-labor resources required to be successful in place, engage our Team to assist in filling the winning Roster. We’ll do the heavy lifting, vetting, and candidate recommendations. When your Roster is ratified, see Resource Consolidation.
  3. Personal Resource Selection – Upon engaging 4C Solutions by MSA, your organization will gain visibility to our existing Roster of Professionals and Support Services Companies, coupled with the ability to insert your own preferred and/or known resources into our Platform as Sub-Consultants. You will have the discretion to personally select and negotiate with these individuals and entities all terms and conditions of their engagement with your organization. This includes location, duration, compensation, and approved expenses. Once you have done that, again, see Resource Consolidation.
  4. A-la-Cart Resource Selection – We are keenly aware that there exist trusted proven relationships between Client and Contractor/Consultant. 4C’s contribution to your aims may be strictly limited to those functions and/or disciplines for which you presently have no satisfactory answer. The 4C Platform is designed to be the entire solution or merely a component of the solution. For example: Perhaps it’s the retention of an Owner’s Engineer; or, key SME’s; or, a Program Director and related Project PM’s; or, multiple Professional Survey Groups, spanning many areas or regions; then placing them under one banner for the reasons set forth in Resource Consolidation.

“4C’s Commitment:

  • 4C is Niche Specific – We provide Professional Support strictly to “Infrastructure” (Power – Communications – Pipeline – Facilities – Utilities – Transportation – Alternative Energy).
  • Client Partner – As our Client Partner, you may personally interface and engage with a diverse group of Infrastructure Professionals, Craftsmen, and Support Services Companies, spanning the continent. Each of whom possesses the skill and experience to efficiently meet the multi-dimensional demands of “Infrastructure” design, maintenance, reclamation, and market expansion in a new way, new day and new time.
  • Vetting – For the application process, using multiple applicable metrics, 4C Sub-Consulting Professionals and Support Services Companies are carefully vetted by persons who have made their own careers in the Infrastructure support space.
  • Visibility – 4C Sub-Consultant Qualifications and Profiles are privately showcased for your consideration and personal contact. You’ll gain access to senior level talent by locale, who may be best suited for, and more familiar with, your specific market and objectives.
  • Cost – Zero cost to enjoin 4C by MSA as your Client Partner – No subscription fee; No placement fee; No hidden costs; No hidden liability (We are assuming Supply Chain/Procurement will view the time to register as our Client an investment, not a cost).
  • Obligation – No obligation to 4C until such time, if and when, you negotiate a mutually acceptable “Work Order” with our Sub-Consultant(s). Only then are you bound to 4C by the individual Work Order attached to, and made a part of, your newly activated MSA. Whether single or multiple, the limits of obligation are defined within, and confined to, executed Work Order(s).
  • Exclusivity to 4C – None. (Other than it pertains to engaged Sub-Consultant(s), with whom you have entered into a formal, mutually approved and ratified, 4C Work Order, which is then attached to, and made a part of, the MSA, for the purposes specifically set forth within the Work Order).
  • Sub-Consultant Engagement – You may personally negotiate the rate, expense reimbursement, and all other T’s & C’s with each 4C Sub-Consultant. You also may opt to have our management team do the same on your behalf, subject to your authorization and final retention approval.
  • Flexibility – You retain the latitude to engage 4C Sub-Consultants for particular engagements, in certain locations, for estimated durations at your negotiated price until completion. Our Sub-Consultants serve at your pleasure, under your direction and may be released anytime at your election.
  • Invoicing – Electronic invoicing to you by 4C twice per month. All Sub-Consultant Invoices are collated by code, with a nominal mark-up by 4C, then transmitted to your organization for processing and their payment. (Please refer to our Platform MSA for the specified mark-up.)
  • Labor & Expense Reporting – Real-time tracking of Labor & Expenses against the individual Work Order Budget and collective Work Orders, by Code.
  • 1099 Entity – For mutual insulation, protection, and absolute transparency, our Sub-Consultants are “Independent Business Enterprises”. (You will provide 4C a single 1099 for the prior year, no matter the number of 4C jobs supported, or 4C Sub-Consultants, engaged.)
  • Insurance – 4C carries General Liability Insurance, as do our Sub-Consultants. Job risk, scope, and role vary. Additional insurance requirements, if any, may be addressed and satisfied within the mutually ratified Work Order.
  • MWBE – 4C is a Minority/Woman-Owned Business Enterprise and provides for fair and equal opportunities to qualified merited candidates, without regard to gender, race, religion, creed, or color.

Our Platform is beautifully tailored to an outside support paradigm shift. Innovatively value-adding to Infrastructure Owner Operators, 4C effectively enhances the placement and retention of qualified resources, while stretching capital budget dollars. We would like to welcome You as our Client Partner!

Visit and join us at: www.4C.Solutions

To schedule a comprehensive Demo with our Team, please email us at info@4C.Solutions or phone us at 720.580.0540, Extension 700.

 

4C Solutions for Sub-Consultants

A Message for Consulting Professionals to Infrastructure

It’s been a rough go for most everyone, everywhere, the past few months. Tragic for so many. Until we have more certainty, on several fronts, it looks like this situation may drag on for a while.

So, how do we make lemonade from lemons?   Maybe it’s doing those little domestic projects put off for years or reconnecting with spouses and kids over family conversation, meals and activity. Virtual meetings, online social hours, religious services, without getting behind the wheel, hasn’t been all bad. The moratorium on sports and the arts is a challenge.

We’re all reminded daily of life’s brevity, but, maybe, with that comes slightly more appreciation for a sunrise or sunset. We are more present. Governments and politicians aside, kindness and generosity among greater humanity is more evident today than before.

Companies must “do business” more creatively now just to survive. They may have to do more with less for long after this plague passes. So, my message here is intended for the self-driven, independent thinking professionals, who are really good at what they do; who either are, or desire to be, their own self-contained 1099 enterprise; and, at the same time, seek to balance it all with their own lifestyles. Skilled professionals are assets to those they serve. Professionals with skill and experience – furloughed, semi-retired or otherwise – can be valuable assets to the “greater Infrastructure push” which both sides of the political aisle now support.

Those who have made careers of project related work know the challenges of travel, sleep deprivation, fast food and temporary relocation. Projects happen where they are needed. One month you’re in California, the next in Ohio for a year, then in Nebraska for an uncertain duration. Home is in Texas, but you go where the work is. It’s a Project. Those who work, or have worked, in office settings, know the monotony of the clock, the daily grind and the roundtrip commute.

Imagine a conduit which provides greater independence, flexibility, profitability, and overall satisfaction, by leveraging the asset that is you. The time is now to see yourself as a company delivering quality results on your own terms and at a premium. You’ve been doing it for others for years…decades. You’ve been compensated at some fraction of the actual bill rate for your services, to cover non-billable staff, overhead, benefits, perks and profit – the added cost of your services sold through an employing organization. We’ve lived in that world too. So, we made it our mission to disrupt the old status quo.

4C Value Propositions:

  • 4C is Niche-Specific – 4C Provides Consulting Professional Support to strictly Infrastructure (Power – Communications – Pipeline – Facilities – Utilities – Transportation – Alternative Energy).
  • Industry Visibility – As a qualified 4C Sub-Consultant your Professional Qualifications and Profile are continuously showcased to every Infrastructure Owner-Operator within the United States and Greater North America.
  • Cost – There is zero cost to you to join the 4C Team – No subscription fee; No placement fee; No other fees; No hidden costs (The time taken to apply to qualify with 4C is not a cost, but an investment in yourself).
  • Obligation – There is Zero obligation to 4C until you successfully negotiate an engagement with a 4C Client through the 4C Platform. At that time, your 4C Sub-Consultant Agreement is activated by which you and the Company agree to use the 4C Online Platform exclusively for invoicing and payment.
  • Exclusivity – None. Though qualified as a 4C Sub-Consultant you are free to engage your services outside the 4C Network or even take employment without any limitation, or obligation to 4C.
  • The Crew – As a 4C Team Member, you will join a large, diverse group of Infrastructure Professionals, Craftsmen and Support Services Companies, spanning the continent, who each possess the skill and experience to efficiently meet the multi-dimensional demands of Infrastructure design, maintenance, reclamation and market expansion, in this new day and time.
  • Flexibility – You, alone, control all aspects of your engagements, including location, duration, and compensation. You, alone, decide which engagements to pursue or to pass.
  • Client Engagement – You will personally negotiate your own rate, expense reimbursement structure and other T’s & C’s with the 4C Client Company.
  • Invoicing – Electronic invoicing by you to 4C twice per month. All Sub-Consultant Invoices are then collated with a nominal fee by 4C and transmitted to the Client for payment. Our fee does not come out of your negotiated compensation, but is paid solely by the 4C Client.
  • 1099 Entity – For mutual insulation, protection and absolute clarity, you are an “Independent Business Enterprise”. (You will receive a single 1099 in the name of your legal entity from 4C for the prior year, no matter the number of Clients engaged with or jobs worked on, as a Sub-Consultant to 4C.)

It’s a new age and time. During this crisis, we’ve seen first-hand that daily commuting to brick and mortar office buildings, traveling to in-person meetings or job sites and clock-punching schedules can be overrated in more ways than ever before envisioned. The work has continued remotely and has been delivered, with more efficiency than previously thought possible.

Our Platform is tailored for this paradigm shift. As evidenced by Airbnb, Uber and others, there is strength in numbers, when it comes to showcasing assets, and making them available and easily useable to the marketplace through an online proposition handling representation, invoicing and payment. You have earned your career stripes serving the cause of Infrastructure. You are your own best “asset” in the world of Infrastructure. It’s your turn now.

Visit us and join us at: www.4C.Solutions

 

4C Solutions Directly Uniting Infrastructure with Quality Professionals

4C Solutions works with organizations to contractually engage select Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) for a specified scope and estimated duration. We facilitate other key resources who are also dedicated to Infrastructure strategy, asset integrity, operations and expansion. Our engagement alliances include Program Directors, Project Managers, Supervisors and other senior level professionals.

Learn More and Join Our Team.

 

4c infrastructure outsourcing

Outsourcing professional services to infrastructure

How it began, how it has evolved, what’s next?

In the mid-late 1960’s, operational domestic and international Infrastructure entities in different sectors like rail, energy transport, gas & electric distribution and communications, among others, looked at the financial landscape and gradually came to realize the obvious;  that the best way to maximize their respective profits was to stick with their core businesses.  For example, oil companies knew they made their “real money” from producing, buying and selling oil.  Pipeline companies made their “real money” from operating transportation pipelines, driving product through-put and delivery.

While it was true these Infrastructure focused entities required systems, networks and facilities to manage, operate and grow their respective businesses.  It was just as true that they did not make money by maintaining their own captive internal support staff to design and build their revenue generating assets.   Was it really cost effective to maintain large internal teams of engineers, surveyors, other professionals and craft crews on permanent payroll?   All of this internal staff  just to maintain assets and perform one or two new capital projects a year, and in some years none, was inefficient and costly business.

And so, the greater Infrastructure space embraced the model of outsourcing more of its asset design and construction related work (other professional services, too) to third party providers.  Although there were naturally pronounced mark-ups to the raw cost of the labor and expenses, Infrastructure owners were relieved of the burden of ever increasing state and federal labor regulations and legislation and of the hiring, retention and termination issues associated with that part of their work force.  As time went by, outsourced service providers charged ever increasing mark-ups, largely due to ever increasing overhead, so  Infrastructure Clients demanded and received indemnifications and performance guarantees that looked great on paper, but rather than resulting in truly better performance, only assured litigation when expectations were not met.

As catch-all, sometimes overreaching, indemnifications became more severe, contractor mark-ups increased in an upward spiral to hedge for insurance and other  “defensive” contingencies related to their services.  Thus, emerged the large third-party professional services companies who have dominated support to Infrastructure from the middle of the last century, well into this one.

And, while these large providers may be able to indemnify for mishaps related to safety, competence,  performance and/or delivery, wouldn’t it be far better for all concerned to be more invested in individual “key player” competence to avoid these situations in the first place?   Undesired results are most often caused by under qualified personnel, poorly defined scope, a lack of integrated coordination and communication between discipline/task groups, and insufficient control practices.    The people, events and circumstances which lead to costly do-overs, delays and legal disputes can be largely negated up front, with the end result competently delivered at a fraction of the time, energy and cost of dispute resolution.

Of course, projects are often bid, and won or lost, on price. Knowing that Infrastructure Clients are  reluctant to switch support once the contract is awarded and the materials are ordered, less scrupulous service providers bid jobs for far less than can actually be delivered.  They depend on scope vagary, with a conscious strategy of moving projects forward, not through highly qualified personnel, an integrated team approach or lucid execution strategy, but rather through time-killing, budget-creep change order tactics.   Another favored ploy to win a competitive bid Contract is to showcase stunning resumes (CV’s) of the service company’s star professionals, only to find them elsewhere deployed on behalf of another prior to the contract being awarded and the Client’s project commenced.

Onerous indemnification provisions do not prevent those issues, they only inflate pricing in order to provide a potential source of recovery after the damage is done.  Despite contractual indemnification language and guarantees, by the turn of the millennium, many Infrastructure owner entities had so weakened their own in-house capabilities, with their management wearing too many operational hats due to downsized permanent staffs, they became even more dependent on outsourcing.   They had surrendered their capacity to properly manage schedule, costs or the integrity of contracted personnel.  An outsource model that originally offered an attractive price and good results, now often came at a bloated cost with poor results.   Inferior personnel, budget and schedule creep and the quality of the services themselves have been the Achilles heel of attaining effective outsourced results.

At the same time, contracted frontline Infrastructure professionals so crucial to sought after outcomes; i.e. subject matter experts, program directors, project managers, field supervisors and lead disciplines, such as engineers, safety experts, land professionals, regulatory specialists and the like, were not personally realizing the enhanced compensation their services were commanding in the market.  While their service companies were enjoying  200% to 400% mark-ups on  contracted personnel, these same individuals were not seeing a proportionate increase in their own pay.  Additionally, even long-tenured third-party professionals traditionally have had very little control over where they are deployed or with whom who they are engaged.

What would help prevent project disasters?  What can equate to a huge percentage in savings on outsourced support?  Equipping Infrastructure owner decision makers with an efficient effective conduit to building a consulting “A Team”, pre-vetted and specifically selected from an array of choices, each then collated under one tent.  This would benefit those in the trenches, all invested parties, the end result and the bottom line, while alleviating the fear, loathing and cost of failure – mediation, arbitration or litigation.

Well, meaningful change has finally arrived.  The conduit that places Infrastructure Clients back in direct control of contracted resources and, at the same time, significantly saves on and extends outsourced labor and expense budget(s) is here to stay.   This may sound too good to be true.  (And, let’s be clear, there are some very good third-party service providers out there who can deliver high quality results.   But they are also mired in conventional model constraints.)  As a genuine alternative to the status quo, there is now a  professional services support platform which leverages low overhead, innovation, locale, efficiency and expediency in service to Infrastructure.  This model creates savings and gives personal control back to Infrastructure Clients, while at the same time, providing greater compensation and engagement flexibility to contracted Infrastructure Professionals.

 

To learn more, please visit us at www.4C.Solutions.

 

By HPaul Cohen, Esq

Mr. Cohen has served as General Counsel to both private and publicly traded companies, specializing in professional services to Infrastructure.     

 

Infrastructure in the GIG economy

4C Solutions in the Gig Economy

GIG Economy – A free market system in which temporary employment positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The trend toward a gig economy has begun. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers will be independent contractors. (From WhatIs.com)

Back in the day it was the norm to work as an employee for a single company from the beginning of a career until retirement at 65 with a farewell banquet and a gold watch. Good, bad or indifferent, that era of a career with one company has largely disappeared.

For too many reasons to adequately cover here, our society is migrating to a GIG economy at an increasingly rapid pace. While the traditional career model seems rather antiquated, even obsolete, this evolving paradigm has some great benefits to it for all concerned.

Automation is becoming an inevitability in as many industries and sectors as it can be effectively applied. Infrastructure is no exception. Capital investment and expense savings, with increased capability and quality results, will be the primary drivers of selections made for third-party support to projects and asset operations & maintenance.

The aim of 4C is a tailored “Solution”, specifically designed to address the Client’s need for efficiency, execution and expedient market delivery at a lower cost in today’s resource competitive world, while affording maximum flexibility to them and to their third-party professionals.

The Client wants the best for less.

The Contract Professional wants to optimize his or her experience and earning potential.

4C is a clean, clear conduit to realizing the objectives of both. A departure from the contracted Infrastructure support norm, the 4C Platform is an interactive operational instrument for both parties to leverage to that end. This is the backbone of 4C’s value proposition.

4C’s value proposition stems from our senior management’s collective history with “tradition” on both sides of the fence. It is derived from in-depth professional experiences – good and bad – by incorporating executive and operational management perspectives, as learned and earned from decades of support to Infrastructure expansion, reclamation, preservation and asset integrity.

So, if you are an Infrastructure Client, wanting more direct control over your contracted labor costs and related expenses, not to mention an actual say in the selection and retention of the consultants who support the tasks and jobs for which you are charged, 4C is your “Solution”. If you are an entrepreneurial minded professional, a proven leader, a forward thinker and a self-starter, with the drive to skillfully execute and deliver the Client’s objectives, 4C is the place to attach your wagon to for the Infrastructure GIGs best suited to your lifestyle, personal circumstances and desired work engagements.

Please visit today and join us for the journey at www.4C.Solutions.