Shipping in the customers

Shipping in the customers

By Andrew Donoghue

Nestled between the capital city docks of Melbourne and Adelaide, the Port of Portland doesn’t get anywhere near the traffic levels of its larger siblings - Melbourne alone handles some $60 billion worth of trade each year.

The Port of Portland deals with a range of cargo from the region’s agricultural, forestry and mining industries. Despite its modest yearly turnover of 270 ships, the Port’s management recently realised that to stay afloat its operational systems needed a thorough overhaul. To that end, the organisation has just finished the installation of a complete CRM system from Astea International to help improve the efficiency of the deep-water import/export facility.

The A$210,000 implementation of Astea's AllianceEnterprise sales and service management system will be used to regulate the maintenance and scheduling of ships entering and leaving the wharf. The port’s managing director, Peter Davie, said the new system would replace aged DOS-based technology and provide the necessary financial controls, service management and reporting capabilities.

”It will streamline data collection and invoicing, improve the tracking of maintenance inventories, deliver real time information, allow on-line cash-flow forecasting and provide a credit control system,” he said.

As Astea doesn’t have a general ledger product, the rollout also included Epicor back-office financial applications from fellow CRM supplier Professional Advantage, although Astea managed the overall project.

The whole implementation took just ten weeks from start to finish without any significant hiccups, according to Portland’s finance manager, Sarah Dewar.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. She said she would expect some issues around training staff, who were used to the 15-year-old DOS system, in the Astea system’s Windows environment.

”We did a lot of training before the system went live but it is bound to take a bit of time. When you take a leap from the 19th century to the 21st it takes a bit of adjusting,” she said.

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