GPUG User Profile - Tampa Port Authority

Almost everything undertaken by the Tampa Port Authority is huge. With 5,000 acres, it is the largest port in Florida and is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the nation. It is one of the world’s premier fertilizer ports and one of the largest shipbuilding and repair centers in the southeastern United States. Since being enacted by the Florida Legislature, the authority has been managing all of the port’s activities. During FY 2010, the port handled 38 million tons of cargo and close to 1 million cruise ship passengers, generating more than $8 billion in economic impact in the Tampa Bay area.

Managing the details of the port is obviously not a simple undertaking. In its quest to streamline its operation, increase efficiency, and decrease costs, the Tampa Port Authority considered several options before it selected Microsoft Dynamics® GP v 10.0. Working closely with Tampa-based Microsoft Partner Tribridge, the solution went live during the summer of 2008. Since then, the Tampa Port Authority has brought its payroll in-house, added WennSoft Job Cost to better manage capital projects, and integrated its recently upgraded vessel tracking system into Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Tribridge has also taken the lead on two other important additions. First, the port worked closely with Tribridge to implement Microsoft Dynamics® CRM v4.0, which went live in the fall of 2010. And Tribridge and the port are currently working to deploy Microsoft SharePoint® Server 2010.

“We’re similar to an airport, but we control the waterways,” says Ken Washington, chief information officer at the Tampa Port Authority.

Restoring Order

Prior to a ship’s arrival in Tampa, reservation for docking is scheduled by the operation’s division, which in turn initiates the billing process. Next, dockage and wharfage fees are collected followed by harbor master fees, which are assessed based on the vessel’s cargo. In addition, fees for utilities, such as water and electricity, are added, calculated, and assessed.

Unfortunately, the previous process was manual and tedious because the application used by operations had limited to nonexisting direct interface with the accounting system. This meant that required information already collected by operations had to be reentered by the finance department.

“I believe that would be considered an inefficient use of work resources,” Washington says.

Before the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics GP, information collection across the organization was cumbersome, and the leveraging of that information was difficult at best. “Each department created and used a self-sustained data repository of analytical and statistical information based on the department’s business objectives and the information collected throughout the day,” Washington recalls. “With each department providing information from multiple sources, not surprisingly, the reports conflicted.”

So Washington and his team set out to find a platform that could manage a centralized data repository and the required backend integration of various systems, driven by one key goal. “We were looking to consolidate while at the same time accommodate each department,” he says.

Accommodations and Beyond

Washington says that one of the primary benefits of Microsoft Dynamics GP is its ease of use and consistency of functions when navigating throughout the system. “Most users are concerned about changes that come with the implementation of a new application and how quickly they are going to adapt to the changes,” he says. “Therefore, prior to the implementation, the organization spent a lot time identifying tasks and processes that would remain the same but have a different look and feel by identifying and demonstrating how the tasks are accomplished in the new application. During the training, we made it easy for the user to compare what we were currently using to what we were about to implement.”

Consistency also comes into play in terms of having a unified data repository from which everyone can gather the same analytical and statistical information to produce reports. “The best thing is that regardless of who provides the information, everyone’s using data from the same source,” Washington says. “All the systems are integrated and sharing the same data, but more importantly, information that’s being reported is consistent.”

Saving Now and in the Future

In addition to improving accuracy and efficiency, the integration saves both time and money. The employee who used to manage hand-delivered, inter-office mail has been assigned other duties, resulting in an elimination of job tasks without the elimination of an employee. Invoicing has also been made more efficient. Changing the organization’s business process to the way the application intended the function to work has reduced the amount of time to process an invoice. Washington evaluated the number of people who used to handle invoice processing and payment, factored in their salaries as well as the amount of time required for reviewing and processing, and concluded that the hourly cost of processing an invoice was $70.00. It is now $3.00.

Another area where Washington expects Microsoft Dynamics GP to deliver savings relates to the future expansion of departmental business objectives. “This technology has the proven ability to integrate with most industry standard systems without an issue,” he says. “We’ve been able to integrate many of our legacy systems, such as engineering, operations, and facilities management applications. Since we’re working with a universal platform based on the back-end foundation (Microsoft SQL), we’ll be able to integrate with custom applications written for specific departments in the future.”

Public Relations

The Tampa Port Authority, a public entity, is subject to what are known as “Sunshine Laws” , which mandate that the organization provide information whenever it’s requested. Washington says that Microsoft Dynamics GP has dramatically increased the organization’s ability to respond to frequent requests. “We are able to accommodate the requests through a more streamlined process,” he says, “We can get the information to the person in a reasonable time.”

100 Percent Satisfaction

Behind the implementation and deployment is Tribridge. “Our implementation of Microsoft Dynamic GP has been a tremendous success,” Washington says of the partnership. While organizations often settle for less-than-satisfactory consulting services, Tribridge has met and surpassed expectations and objectives. It was originally projected that it would take three years to complete the project, but thanks to the partnership with Tribridge, it was completed in less than 18 months. “We’ve never had to settle,” Washington says.