Friday, October 23, 2020

Building and Proving Value With An Inspection Team

 A little over 10 years ago I reached a point where I had some concerns with all the talk coming from the clients about the cost of inspection for their projects. I was also a bit perplexed about their view of inspectors as well. A view where you are a good guy, they know your name, glad to have you on board, and the next day you are number that is costing them too much money and out the door, you go.

I started looking at how I could build a team of inspectors that would be viewed differently other than a "cost." I have always sought inspectors who had a wide range of capabilities and were diversified in knowledge. It always seemed to feel right to me. I started looking more in-depth on that thought and came up with the idea of building a specialized team of inspectors. A group of individuals that could "crossover" various disciplines. With that in mind, I figured out I could work with fewer inspectors hence, saving the client inspection costs. Now, one might think the inspection company was losing money by working fewer inspectors. This is not true and I will explain why.

In conversations with the client's project managers, I was able to extract information about their intentions, needs, desires, and expectations from third-party services. On several occasions, I was able to work into the conversation a few of my talking points which generated information I needed to pursue my intention to building value for the client. My intuition that the client would accept a smaller specialized team of inspectors and retain that same team for multiple projects proved to be correct. This idea was also accepted by the inspection company I worked for because, in the long run, they were making more money by not having to put effort and expense in hunting a certain number of inspectors with certain classifications and taking the chance on whether they would be retained or not once they were hired. 

My concept of keeping a core team with me going forward developed at this point and has been my main goal ever since. A lot of parameters had to be put in place to make sure safety was never in jeopardy nor was the integrity of the work. I was given full authority to staff up as needed and staff back to the core group when the time came. With this concept, I was able to keep a core team of inspectors working for a client just shy of 10 years with no breaks in paydays At the time this was unheard of. As I have always done and will continue to do so, the credit for being able to stay with a client for this length of time all goes to the inspectors who made up the team. They put in the effort, the knowledge, and teamwork to make it happen. If it weren't for them, the concept would have never come to fruition. 

Building and creating a specialized team of inspectors takes time. You need to have diversity from one end of the spectrum to the other. You have to have the capabilities to bounce in between new construction projects to maintenance projects. Working with all three of the client's divisions, upstream, midstream, and downstream. Having the client's trust by allowing you to be a part of their project planning stages and asking for your input for inspection coverage gives you a lot of insight as to how much diversity you need to have in your team. I am fortunate enough to have a very deep and broad network of individuals that I can contact if I need to build specialized teams.

Another attribute that a specialized team can do is recognize what I term as "budget leaks." These are areas that we as a team feel some modification is needed thus saving the client cost on the project. This team also has the ability to think "out of the box" and bring cost-effective ideas to the project managers for consideration on other projects in the future. They can present ideas or modifications to current applications that also save money for the client.

By using a specialized inspection team for one client there was a cost savings of over three million dollars and we had not been fully submerged with them at the time the economy took a turn and thus a change in the client's business strategies went into effect. Can you imagine the impact specialized teams could have had company-wide had they been implemented in all the company's locations where third-party services were needed?

There are some misconceptions between clients and inspection companies that need to be removed and replaced with more transparency on what the expectations and goals are between the two entities. There is value to build between the two groups but it takes full disclosure of both parties' intentions and desires. There are multiple avenues to build value here and save costs. 

This concept I have presented here is one of many and is the future of this industry. I briefly touched on it in the LinkedIn article I wrote titled, "Oil and Gas: The New Approach." In my opinion, this industry is about to see a huge change in how things are going to get done compared to the way it has been in the last 30 years. Everybody better get ready for it!

Take care and be safe!

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