To be successful in this environment, port managers need ways to innovate, adopt and adapt more quickly and efficiently to new technologies that allow them to integrate the many elements of their existing port information infrastructure and thereby increase their overall productivity and profitability.
“To date very few seaports have chosen cloud-computing and/or software-as-aservice (SaaS) approach for managing their enterprises, but a number of them are now moving in that direction. A large number of seaports have chosen “mainstream” ERP solutions like those offered by Microsoft®, Oracle® and SAP®,” says George Walters, President and CEO, Harbour Mastery®, Inc. In the past, the seaports that have opted for a web-based solution tend to be some of the larger seaports with well-financed IT departments who can both develop and sustain their own systems. Small and mid-size ports are often then left with off-the-shelf solutions, multiple spreadsheets that do not talk to each other, or even paper processing resulting in lack of effective communication and increased reduplication of efforts among the different departments (such as operations and finance) within their ports.
“For this purpose in 2007, we partnered with NetSuite® as a solutions developer to create i-Seaports™ ERP vertical on the NetSuite® platform,” says George. i-Seaports™ enables seaports to integrate all their processes and information on one single platform, gives visibility into their operations across that platform, and removes the redundancy of effort involved when running multiple systems that do not integrate well with each other. Ports can monitor and measure their operations, and select areas to improve over time. i-Seaports™, by virtue of being developed on the NetSuite® platform, enables ports to quickly put the system in place and solve problems that have plagued them for a long time.
Using i-Seaports™, ports can simplify, improve, and focus on their core business, gain insights into lost revenues, and take active measures to replenish those gaps
“Using i-Seaports™, ports can simplify, improve, and focus on their core business, gain insights into lost revenues, and take active measures to replenish those gaps,” explains Rick Walters, CIO, Harbour Mastery®. “These ports can now focus on their customers’ engagements and work towards increasing revenues.” Chris Barber, CTO, Harbour Mastery ®, credits the underlying architecture of NetSuite® for providing the necessary flexibility to efficiently address the overall integration challenges when seaport managers are considering whether to buy or build. Rick adds that “The SaaS based platform also addresses major challenges around security, scalability and reliability that CIO’s face in finding solutions to support their whole enterprise.”
i-Seaports™ as a Net- Suite® based ERP solution, verticalized for the seaports and port authorities industry, addresses the multidimensional nature of seaports which pose levels of complexity that most IT vendors or ERP systems tend to overlook. Take the example of billing systems in seaports. It is most ideal to move from the point of reservation request for a vessel to enter a seaport to the collection of cash for the services rendered in one seamless flow. The fundamentals of managing the operations side (vessel and cargo logistics) so that these services flow seamlessly through to the billing and accounting processes are not present in most off-the-shelf ERPs and cannot be easily applied through the APIs of most mainstream systems. “We are able to leverage NetSuite® in every aspect of accounts receivable that’s needed within the seaport and tie that to departments, classes, locations, and GL coding segmentation that is native to NetSuite®,” explains George. “i-Seaports™ enables ports to achieve a high-level of efficiency in handling vessel and cargo logistics to capture that revenue without redundancy of data entry efforts required by dis-integrated and/ or less robust systems.”
i-Seaports™ has the capability to bring all the functionalities together in an affordable package. Each user has a personalized or role-based dashboard to handle critical operations and tasks assigned to their role. i-Seaports™ ensures the seamless flow of all the operations to the financial processes for all billing, collections, accounting, fiscal and statistical analysis and reporting. “We have utilized NetSuite’s Configuration and Personalization for users, roles, and dashboards to support the complexity of the seaport’s operations and management,” notes Chris.
Additionally, i-Seaports™ through NetSuite® supports multi-language, multi-currency, and multi-port management that give ports interminable global trade advantages. Ports can also have adroit integration with applications that provide updates on current weather and tides, or graphically mapped AIS ship location tracking. As a security measure, ports can integrate their web-cam connections for monitoring activities at berths or in container yards. In addition, using NetSuite®’s robust web-services integration and work with other Harbour Mastery® and NetSuite® partners, mobile landside assets tracking, and radar and sonar interfaces can also be accessed through the application. i-Seaports™ runs in all major browsers and operating systems. In summary, i-Seaports™ integrates well with leading NetSuite® services such as fixed asset management, and detailed worker and employee payroll management. The nimble management of every billable vessel and cargo related activity and service from time of scheduling to billing, collections and reporting eliminates redundancies, points of failure and mistakes, and greatly reduces the time lag from activity to collections.
The agile nature of the NetSuite® platform allows Harbour Mastery® to deliver customized i-Seaports™ solutions depending on their client’s requirements. Tampa Port Authority, d/b/a Port Tampa Bay, the largest port in Florida, engaged Harbour Mastery® to provide a custom-developed system solution for their daily operations, vessel and cargo scheduling, billing, lease management and financial management. This included a very complicated Minimum Annual Guarantee (MAG) system that integrated with their leases.
Kenneth Washington, CIO and Vice President, Port Tampa Bay says, “The Harbour Mastery® team has performed above and beyond expectations for managing very complex vessel scheduling and financial billing and accounting. Harbour Mastery’s day-to-day support has been there every time we needed it delivering ahead of schedule when issues and needs arise.” After reviewing a number of on premise solutions, such as Technology One, Klein Ports, One Port and Microsoft Dynamics, the Port of Portland Ltd. in Victoria, Australia chose NetSuite® and i-Seaports™. POPL is the leading export port in
Ensuring Smooth Sailing for Ports and Marinas
In addition to seaport and port authorities management, Harbour Mastery® enables marinas to streamline their operations using another NetSuite® based offering: i-Marinas™. “While vessels enter a port to do business and leave to go to their next port of call, marinas house smaller commercial and recreational vessels which leave the marina for business or leisure, and later return.,” comments George. Most marinas have lots of activities and services that are related to the hospitality and recreation industries. i-Marinas™ ERP focuses on how marinas manage the leisure industry. “NetSuite® is a powerful, capable platform that allows us to meet many different needs of the marinas,” notes Rick. Businesses are continually looking for solutions to solve complex problems; what’s really powerful about Harbour Mastery’s capability is that NetSuite® allows them to do that fairly quickly at an affordable cost.
“This year a seaport client came to us through NetSuite® Channel Sales with a very large Marina Complex and multiple venues for leasing, rentals and services,” adds George. “They were running on five different systems and lots of spreadsheets.” The seaport had looked at other ERP alternatives to NetSuite® ERP and after several conversations and demos from Harbour Mastery®; they decided that the i-Seaports™ Marina Module could manage all this complexity on one platform.
i-Seaports™ and i-Marinas™ on the NetSuite® platform fulfills the vision of software as a service (SaaS) with a level of resiliency to empower seaport owners, managers, and the seaport user community to work on location from PCs and laptops, or at dockside with tablets (touchscreen enabled), or work remotely while on travel, to manage their seaports operations and services. To enable seaports that want to efficiently transform their existing IT infrastructure, Harbour Mastery® partners with any of the NetSuite® Channel Sales, other NetSuite® Solution Providers, and SuiteCloud Developer Network partners to globally market i-Seaports™.
“As NetSuite® implementers, they support the foundation for accounts payable, payroll, fixed asset management, and other dimensions of NetSuite®whereas our purpose is to streamline maritime processes for accounts receivable, enable our clients to generate more revenue more quickly, and tie it all together,” explains George. “We expect to do more in educating channel sales and NetSuite® Partners on the advantages of seaports and marinas as business in their own backyards using Harbour Mastery® as subject matter experts.”
The Trio has a simple motto: “Our Mission is to make worldclass seaport and marina management solutions affordable to ports of any size and eliminate the 'niche' mentality that has kept this out of reach for many.”