Port business architecture – helping to improve business performance



Martin Sharp, Business Development Manager, BMT Hi-Q Sigma Ltd., London, UK


Part 2: How to implement PBA at your facility

In the 50th Edition we discussed the business complexities of ports/ terminals and the continuing pressures they face, which show no signs of abating. In order to help improve business performance, whilst dealing with these challenges we introduced the concept of Port Business Architecture (PBA). In Part 2 we look at how to implement PBA, further highlighting the benefits such an approach can bring.

A port is clearly a complex business operating as a key link in an international supply chain. There are increasing pressures to improve profitability, whilst delivering enhanced services at lower costs in a secure environment, with due considerations to sustainability and safety. Ports therefore must be designed with adaptability and continual improvement in mind.

The approach we at BMT have termed Port Business Architecture (PBA) will enable a Port Operator to design the most effective business model, whilst taking into account the complexities outlined in Part 1.

What is PBA?

Port Business Architecture (PBA) can be defined as a coherent number of principles, methods, and models that are used in the design and realization of a port’s strategic objectives, organizational structure, business processes, information systems and infrastructure. In practical terms, a port’s business architecture is a model of the business that enables decision makers to ask pertinent questions and obtain answers in which they feel confident about, providing an approach similar to the successful ‘Ask Jeeves’ model. This is not something you can buy off-theshelf but a bespoke solution tailored to meet the specific needs and aspirations of a port or terminal. It takes time and effort to create such a model, but you do not need to wait until it is complete to realize the business benefits. In fact, merely the conscious decision to embark on this journey can spark a flurry of meaningful questions that your organization should know the answer to, probably thinks it knows the answer to, but on embarking to solve a problem realizes that it actually doesn’t hold these answers. This type of misconception is a common reason why investment projects do not finish on time or budget.

With PBA, this genie can be firmly put back in the bottle where it belongs.

As part of the implementation process of introducing the Port Business Architecture approach, it is necessary to set up a strong governance structure, identifying the necessary rules and guiding principles, a framework, processes, an effective software tool to hold the model and of course the people to run the Port Business Architecture.

The journey is just as important as the destination

What has been found to be even more important than having a completed Port Business Architecture model is the journey an organization takes to achieve the end goal. This is often where significant improvements are made because a company, in many cases for the first time, duly considers who its customers are, what it offers, what it delivers, what it does behind closed doors, why it does it and determines where costs are incurred. The simplest way to look at these areas is to start by documenting them in a single, integrated model of the end-to-end business. This model will contain details of the processes, the organization that uses the processes and the IT that supports those processes. In every consultation carried out by the authors and their colleagues, opportunities to improve the business have been identified during this discovery phase time and time again.

To enable an organization to start this journey, the process requires a buy-in from senior executives and effective communication of the overall improvement objectives to all staff. This is probably the hardest aspect of such a program, as individuals will start becoming aware of changes that may affect them and their position. In essence, we are asking people to think about what they do, why they do it and most importantly consider themselves as part of a process, part of a link in a very important chain.


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