Massive oil tankers and other ocean-going merchant vessels were a sector that Infomill had never experienced before. As a small company specialising in enhancing technical information used in maintaining equipment, I had never thought our products and services could apply to the marine industry. I was wrong. Not only was the idea of working with ships fascinating, but the client was based in Hong Kong. A trip to the pearl of the orient was just icing on the cake. Or Dim Sum.
The project was a unique challenge. It seemed to be an issue regarding technical data communication between ships at sea and shore-based managers. These managers were responsible for keeping the vessels on schedule, which meant avoiding any mechanical problems that would interfere with the intensive schedule. It seemed that the volume of technical data traffic was simply too much for the fleet network, both on and off-shore. So a couple of Infomill consultants were called in to see what we could find out…
What started as a technical investigation soon transformed into a process review. We examined who was sending what to where and why. We realised that the organisational structure meant that the same piece of information was duplicated and copied multiple times by different departments and line managers with hardcopies being made and filed. As space is at such a premium in Hong Kong, these files were then taken offsite and stored at a considerable cost.
So, rather than recommend a technological solution to the problem that the client thought they had, we simply suggested ways in which this cross-departmental confusion could be streamlined. The result was a reduction in workload for the staff, easing congestion on their network and a reduction in cost.
Our client was very happy. Two people from a small company had solved their problem easily and, I have to admit, at a low price. I realised that perhaps this had been too low when our client then produced a massive tome of reports and recommendations from a large global consultancy company and placed it on the desk. They had apparently suggested a solution the included all sorts of technology and clever systems at a very high price. However, they had failed to address the underlying problems that had been there all along. Our client suspected that there had to be a simpler solution and had contacted Infomill as we had a reputation for delivering realistic and pragmatic systems and advice.
We were later treated to a wonderful evening at one of Hong Kong finest restaurants as our reward.
Not only did this experience provide us with a unique opportunity to work in a different industry, but it also proved a vital point: the best solution doesn’t necessarily have to involve elaborate proposals, fancy technology and expensive systems. Oftentimes the road to success is all about simplicity and efficiency.