Ports have commitments to a myriad of external stakeholders (e.g., government agencies, shipping companies, contractors) that hold significant legal and financial implications. At one of the United States’ largest seaports, a decision was made to centralize these commitments in a single solution in order to streamline compliance monitoring and give the organization an easy way to get a complete view of commitments port-wide.
The port’s IT department reviewed all possible options for moving these activities online and found that there were no off-the-shelf applications that could meet all their needs. Instead they decided that extending their current 2011 On-Premise Microsoft Dynamics CRM organization would be the best path. West Monroe Partners, who currently supports their CRM deployment, was brought in to design and implement the solution. The goals of the new Commitment Tracking Application were to standardize the inconsistent and time-consuming manual processes in order to improve operational efficiency and reduce errors, automatically notify the appropriate individuals of pending deadlines, and provide advanced reporting capabilities for the Environmental division. In addition, the application had to be extensible to all divisions with minimal customization required.
After the initial design sessions, we landed upon a three tier entity model of Projects, Commitment Sources, and Commitments (see screenshots below). A Project is an optional container of Commitment Sources (e.g., permits) while a Commitment Source is a required container of Commitments. In order to satisfy the automatic notification goal, we built a console application that runs nightly, looks at the dates on each active Commitment record (i.e., Reminder Date, Estimated Completion Date, and Due Date), and sends the appropriate reminder/escalation emails. We used a console application instead of a workflow because a workflow would have required a wait condition, and we did not want to risk a performance reduction from hundreds (and eventually thousands) of waiting workflows. In order to satisfy the advanced reporting capabilities goal, we used a combination of views, dashboards, and SSRS reports. The dashboards were broken out by each sub-division within Environmental and provided information on missed, completed, and upcoming commitments. Two reports were developed that will be shared with the Board of Commissioners who have requested increased visibility into the Port’s commitments: a quarterly report of all new commitments and an annual report of all missed commitments.
If you are in the port industry or curious about what a well-designed CRM platform can do for you, reach out to us. We can share our experience, and even help you stand up a proof-of-concept.