Cowes Harbour Commission
A busy harbour with marina, moorings and commercial operations
Cowes is well-known around the world as the home of yachting, famed for royalty racing at Cowes Week. Beyond the society glamour, Cowes is a busy leisure and commercial harbour and the main port on the Isle of Wight, with over 30,000 ferry movements plus bulk cargo and significant leisure traffic.
As a Trust Port, Cowes Harbour Commission is responsible for the operation and safe navigation of the harbour, and alongside their statutory duties, runs around 600 moorings in the River Medina, the 130-berth Shepards Marina and Cowes Harbour Services Boatyard. The Commission also provides commercial marine services throughout the Solent, and pilotage for commercial vessels.
WE LIKE BEST
Design and layout
Workflows and operations
WHY HARBOUR ASSIST
The search for a new management system was initiated by a requirement for improved reporting and analytics, coupled with a desire to improve the end-user experience.
One of the factors that swung the decision for Harbour Assist was the friendly and open buying process. “Nick and Rachel spent a considerable amount of time answering every conceivable question and were always honest with us,” said Deputy Harbour Master Ed Walker. “By the time we went live they had already implemented the functionality changes that we discussed months earlier.”
“It was clear that the system is way ahead of the competition”
IMPLEMENTATION & SUPPORT
At an early stage, the Commission made the decision to change most of their standard operating procedures to fit Harbour Assist: “We pretty much re-wrote the operations manual. Although it was hard work it has been very beneficial, saving time and making everything more efficient,” said Ed Walker. “I’d recommend anyone to review their workflows – just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s the best way of doing it.” The Commission also invested significant effort into data cleaning, working on the ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ principal.
Getting the staff onboard was a vital consideration, especially as more of them would be using Harbour Assist day-to-day than on the previous system. Training was tailored to each operational group, and the test system made available to all users. Ed Walker: “We basically gave them the test system for two months and said, ‘break it’. It gave them a chance to understand the system, learn the workflows and get the basics nailed down before we went live.”
One year in and the Commission are using Harbour Assist for all leisure and commercial invoiceable activities, asset inspections ashore and afloat, and for tasking staff. “The Asset Inspections and Tasks functions allow all staff to see operational schedules without having to call the office. Harbour Patrol Officers can access their tasks list from iPads whilst working on the river,” said Ed Walker.
Smart Lists and the ability to send bulk emails has changed the way that the Commission communicates with customers, especially with staff working on multiple sites and sometimes from home. “Once the lists were set up, we were emailing 200 customers at the click of a button. To my knowledge there isn’t another system that can do this.”
Visitor operations are very important, with high volumes of arrivals most weekends and during major events like Round the Island Race and Cowes Week. Marina staff report that they are able to check-in arrivals more quickly than before, and customers like the choice of payment methods. “The online portal has brought the 21st Century to our customers. This allows our customers the ability to settle invoices from the comfort of their home without having to make a trip to the office or ring up to pay,” Ed Walker concluded.
“We use the Tasks function every day across three sites. We’d come to a halt without it.”