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.
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
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
tasks and processes
that would remain
the same but have
a different look and
feel by identifying
how the tasks
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
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.”
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.