Inspectioneering Journal

Begin With the End in Mind

Want to get over the hump?

By Greg Alvarado, Chief Editor at Inspectioneering. This article appears in the March/April 1995 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Most inspection companies, including those who dabble in engineering, today, go about things in much the same way as they have in the last five to ten years. Some offer routine services at bargain-basement prices. Others provide high tech services like AUT and AE, at a premium. Another group of companies attempts to merge the two.

The cutthroat world of low bid pricing for routine services rarely pays off in the long run for the client or the service company. Eventually, we see unhappy clients, getting low-quality services (but at least they can say they did the inspection), a tremendous turnover in field inspection personnel and service companies, in trouble, or battling for their existence in an off/on again mode.

Is that where all involved parties wanted to be? Not likely. How did they get there? Or better yet, how do we improve?

Many companies think that a business and marketing plan are just budgets and financial performance figures. Then they wonder why they are spinning their wheels. Management can't figure why more of their employees aren't self-motivated, acting as the empowered people they are.


Know what you want; where you ultimately want to be; and what you want to be known for. (i.e., begin with the end in mind.) Establish your roles and goals in fulfilling this mission. If you've already done this, evaluate where you are now and share the vision.


Major corporations, the very same people we want to forge long term agreements with, have marketing plans. They want to know their market desires, including future and present clients, in a dynamic environment.

Know what you can provide or what your resources are. Is there a match? What is the value? Does the market agree? If we need to offer different services, can we afford to? Can we repackage what we have to better suit the client? Before we make any decisions do we ask, "of what value is it to the client?" While there are many similarities between customers, we also need to ask these questions of them as individuals. Their goals are not exactly alike. Form a strategy that supports point #1. If a variety of services are offered, break them into separate strategic business units (SBUs). Evaluate them individually (i.e., on their own merits). Know your strengths, threats, weaknesses, and opportunities.


Have a way of gauging your progress (not money alone; most have already demonstrated an uncanny willingness here). Let's look at real strategy. Set short-range and intermediate goals. These may be financial, percentage of market share, or improving on certain client relationships.


Make adjustments, if necessary. Remember total quality management (TQM) and re-engineering are not one and the same. Eventually, a cash cow gets old, then nurture client relationships. Dare to stick to your principles. Stay determined to do the right things to be effective. Then, concentrate on doing things right and efficiently.

There are a lot of excellent opportunities in this market (e.g., risk-based inspection programs, boiler programs, corrosion under insulation, above-ground storage tanks, inspection & certification programs, automated ultrasonic (AUT) services for H2S, hot hydrogen attack, coke drum reliability/remaining life, inspection training and seminars, positive materials identification).

Service companies can determine what is right for us before we take the plunge. Let's do it! It's a lot less expensive than shooting from the hip. Every participant in the process will benefit for years to come.

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