North Sea Port (formerly Port of Ghent)

From Chimps to Champ - North Sea Port optimizes information management with LoQutus
“LoQutus showcased the actual improvements that SharePoint will offer us based on practical examples. This enabled everyone involved to visualise the benefits of the solution. Their objective view in combination with their in-depth expertise provided us with insights that we would never have gained on our own.” - Dieter Boedts, Director Staff and Organisation at North Sea Port

Expert advice and micro / macro guidance secure smooth implementation of information management

As a limited liability company under public law, Port of Ghent has to assume various managerial responsibilities to safeguard a consistent day-to-day operation of the port. In practice, it makes sure the required infrastructure is in place to enable the smooth operation of both the shipping and goods traffic.

Port of Ghent has many responsibilities including those for the rights, security and environmental licenses. All involve substantial administration and invoicing and of the 160 employees, 125 of them are directly involved with these daily requirements.

PRONTO, pronto!

“During the past few years, Port of Ghent has gradually evolved into a knowledge organization,” says Dieter Boedts, staff and organisation director. “The operational activities have disappeared from our job description, and most of the people employed by us are in administrative roles.”

The organisation launched PRONTO (PROject for a New Future Organisation) four years ago. This project focuses on improving the collaboration between people. To do this, it considers both the physical component (lay-out and use of the building) and the human component (how to steer employees, how to deal with various results and how to give or receive guidance ...). It also included the implementation of advanced management software.

“Since the ‘90s we’ve evolved from a municipal department to a more autonomous organisation,” Dieter Boedts continues. “Consequently, our HR needs also had to adapt. With the average employee aged 49, we find ourselves at the threshold of a major change: approximately half of the employees will be leaving in the next few years.” This will significantly influence the existing employee knowledge base. Obviously, the company wants to avoid this potential loss of expertise. At the same time, it also wants to offer incoming team members a modern and efficient work environment. It needed a structured platform to be able to realise these goals.

Advice and guidance

Dieter Boedts expands: “We started out with a test project, a ‘proof of concept analysis’ based on SharePoint. But the results were not entirely satisfactory. We felt the time was right to bring in Möbius/LoQutus to guide us in this process. We had already successfully cooperated in the past and we value their expertise. At the same time, we also brought in an information manager, because we’re convinced that this line of work requires a dedicated expert.”

LoQutus performed a SWOT analysis, which revealed that SharePoint was indeed the best way forward. However, this time a detailed investigation was performed to outline the specific needs of Port of Ghent and optimise its application. LoQutus helped determine and outline the tender offer and will supervise the implementation. Mieke Popelier, information manager explains: “Their contribution truly made the difference. It quickly became apparent that LoQutus gets involved on both a micro and a macro level. This close collaboration enables them to deliver invaluable expert advice. They truly deliver the deliverables and keep their promises.”

Data quality exercise brings order to the chaos

Once the project started rolling out, LoQutus designed a plan of attack that is currently being implemented. “An important aspect of this is the data quality exercise,” says Mieke Popelier. “At this point in the exercise, every department is going through a number of steps to delete excess data and keep the data that is relevant for the new structure. It truly is a tabula rasa test that appears to be a gargantuan amount of work with regard to listing all sources, facts and figures, etc. Plus, we set up work group meetings with representatives from all departments on a monthly basis. Every department has a designated data steward who communicates the results and guidelines of the work group. But thanks to the clear guidelines and the correct guidance, everything is running smoothly. We’re really making good progress.”

In the meantime, the step-by-step migration of all projects to SharePoint has commenced. Once the data quality exercise of the full project has been completed, the document management process - search, consult, archive ... will be uniform for all projects inside the organisation.

At that time, LoQutus will draft a roadmap that lists the next steps. This will consist of, among others, the implementation of projects with extra added value, such as rights management, contract management, digital mailroom...

Create wide support

Change is rarely adopted without encountering resistance. This is why attention was paid to generating awareness. Mieke Popelier: “LoQutus noticed that the first letters of the names of the old network disks for data storage formed the word CHIMPS. A funny coincidence, but we quickly decided to commercialise this and formulated an internal communication campaign on the chimp-theme in cooperation with the communication department. “Gamification” initiatives will hopefully encourage everyone to get involved. Whoever keeps their folder at 0% (or as low as possible) could receive a reward for that month. It’s all about keeping the data quality high in a fun way.”

Well on the way

At this stage Port of Ghent cannot yet draw any final conclusions. “We’re building on a solid foundation,” concludes Dieter Boedts, “but SharePoint will not be implemented companywide for several year. We do feel however that we’re in complete control and we are all looking forward to the final roll-out. With a partner like LoQutus, we’re confident the outcome will be successful.”