With globalisation, mergers and acquisitions, deregulation, competition, quality of service to customer and costs, companies have been forced to concentrate more on core businesses and outsource as many processes as possible. Companies are making a shift in using Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) to respond to these demands which is causing a significant change in the way business is being done today, giving executives a creative edge.
Increased costs, competition, shortage of manpower and high attrition rates have alarmed companies and lead them to move towards cost cutting and risk minimisation. With advancements in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), BPO has gained momentum and acceptability. In its early days, security risks, Internet band width and technical skills were shortcomings of BPO, but now with advancements in technology, BPO has become a reality.
With BPO, companies have benefited from:
• The opportunity to focus on core business
• An increase in productivity
• Operational cost control
• Access to expertise
• Cost savings
• Improved accountability
• Improved HR
• Risk minimisation
ICT/ITeS (IT enabled Services) requirements at ports
The investments made by ports are large by any standard. The gestation period to reap the benefits of these investments is larger.
The following are the major areas which ports have to crucially deal with:
• Port automation operations (container, break bulk, Ro-Ro, liquid and jetty etc)
• Navigation systems
• Dry-dock operations/ship repair Systems
• Planning, monitoring and control applications for ports
• Logistics management (end-to-end shipping supply chain solutions)
• Global e-commerce applications (including EDI-based messaging)
• Asset management
• Financial and commercial applications
• Activity-based costing
• Passenger reservation for ferry and cruise operations
• Computerised maintenance management system
• Legacy systems upgrades/data integration
• Infrastructure upgrades
• Support/help desk
• Network security
• Executive information system
Let’s consider a scenario for port management monitoring different communities as shown in Figure 1. It is a complex system with too many uncertainties and contingencies.
With BPO in ports
Now consider a port sector with BPO in place, as shown in Figure 2 (overleaf).
With BPO in place, management monitor and take decisions with fewer managers, who in turn monitor the progress of the outsourced processes and information from BPO partners.
BPO’s success run
Top-notch companies have embraced the benefit of BPO and are looking forward to a number of other processes to outsource. While many ports are still in the judgment phase, the majority of sectors have already taken the advantage and the results are tremendous. The port sector will have to seriously consider BPO as a vital option in coming years.
Port sector areas where BPO can be considered include: