As marinas and harbours grapple with the practicalities of teams split between home workers and those on-site, and the realities of social distancing, we’re all finding ways to collaborate and recreate an effective work environment.
There are many software tools available, such as Teams, Slack and Hangouts. There are pros and cons for each, but the biggest drawback is lack of integration with the day-to-day processes in use at busy marinas, boatyards or harbours. Interactions that happen outside of the marina management system can’t be tracked, checked or linked to a customer, asset or transaction. Knitting together records from multiple electronic sources is as impossible as piles of paper and fading faxes in dusty archives.
The solution has to be internal communications and collaboration tools integrated seamlessly into the marina management software.
Asking an absent colleague to book a lift ashore, amend an invoice or check a faulty switch used to be easy. It would be written in the daybook, or scrawled on a Post-It note and stuck to their workstation or sent in an email. Hopefully when they returned, they’d find the request and complete the task. If you were lucky, they’d let you know, maybe with another email or Post-It note.
The system mostly worked because at some point we’d all be in the office together. But if the Post-It blew away or the recipient simply forgot to do the job, the first sign that the system had broken down would be an angry customer asking why the invoice was still incorrect, or the H&S manager demanding to know when the faulty bollard was fixed.
“We use the Tasks function every day across three sites. We’d come to a halt without it.” Ed Walker, Cowes Harbour Commission
Tasks in Harbour Assist lets users assign an activity to a team or an individual. Tasks can be any form of request, from urgent repairs to passing-on general information about a customer. Unlike the gone-with-the-wind Post-It, Tasks appear in the header banner until completed, and both sender, recipient and team managers can view, assess workloads and monitor overdue activities.
With team members now separated by new working practices, giving the full picture is even more important to avoid misunderstandings. Linking the Task to the customer’s account or the bollard inspection, and attaching relevant notes or documents provides the recipient with the background they need to complete the job. Automatic notifications by email, SMS or desktop can be sent to notify users of any type of activity on the Task – especially useful for management to give them a good overview of what’s happening on the ground.
Tasks in action
Cowes Harbour Deputy Harbour Master Ed Walker says that Tasks is central to their working practices: “We use the Tasks function every day across three sites. We’d come to a halt without it.”
During the Covid-19 lockdown, five staff worked from home using Harbour Assist, with the on-water patrol team logging activities on Asset Inspections and making use of Tasks. “This not only provides clarity for Patrol Officers with a set template, but also gives management working remotely a way of checking that work is being completed, and monitoring issues on-site“ said Ed.
An unambiguous record of when a request was raised, how it was resolved and the team members involved is important in resolving customer disputes and vital for health and safety procedures.
Systems that automatically capture key information such as names, dates, email correspondence and record changes not only support good working practices but save time and energy too.
- Share urgent faults, messages, actions and general information with one or more people.
- Send a stand-alone message, or link to an account, asset, inspection or transaction.
- Attach documents and add notes.
- View in a calendar or list to sort and prioritise.
- Track your team members’ activities.
How can we help your business?
If you’d like to talk about how Harbour Assist can help your business to connect with your customers, email Nick direct firstname.lastname@example.org