“You Don't Build Yachts and Ships with ERP Systems”
He has decades of experience in the maritime sector and now works as a maritime consultant for Shipbuilder. André Zijderveld: “In all those years in the maritime sector, I have seen the financial departments in the maritime sector working with beautiful ERP programs. However, it is a misconception that you can manage an entire shipbuilding or yacht building project with it. To my surprise people are still trying to do that though, with all the mistakes that come along. That must and can be done in a different way.” In this interview André advises shipyards and yacht builders on how to make their projects much more efficient, more profitable and more enjoyable.
So, you don't do that with an ERP program?
André: “Of course a maritime company of a serious magnitude also needs an ERP system that works well. As a maritime company, you want to be able to control your financial processes. But that is not enough. An ERP system that runs smoothly is great for the finance department. However, an ERP system only controls the financial part and some of the logistics of the proceedings. The engineers, workmen and operations manager simply do not benefit much from this in their work. They need to have a system that supports the primary processes in the organization; these are the processes by which the company creates value. And that can be done perfectly well with a Data Management Program.”
So, how does such a Data Management Program control the primary processes?
“A Data Management Program holds all data of your projects. In fact, all business knowledge is stored in a good Data Management Program. From the number of available and required parts to the work to be carried out, all information is processed here. A good Data Management Program provides information to all departments: from design to work planning and from construction to the inspection department. Everybody can start using this information immediately. It is also real-time information, so everyone works with the same, correct information. By using this, far fewer mistakes are made at maritime companies.” Smiling: “You will see in your ERP system that your projects perform better financially. That is actually the strength when you combine these two systems in your organization. The ERP system reports, for example, on the profitability of your projects, while your Data Management Program helps you in your work and also helps you grow."
How does a Data Management Program help you grow?
“As a matter of fact, an ERP system only writes history: You know what your profit is on a project and you know how your activities within a project have been successful financially, and that´s it. People in the workplace, however, need tools with which they can ask the right questions about production and tasks and that is exactly what a Data Management Program (like Shipbuilder) does. With it, you can easily manage your activities and work far more efficiently. It also supports a company to carry out the next project in a better way. For example, you can share the knowledge, gained during the activities with each other and save it for the next project. This gives your innovations in your organization a huge boost. If you want to grow, a good Data Management Program is absolutely a must: you need a tool to make clear what capacity you have and which activities can be improved. It’s the only way you can grow. This implies, however, that you are willing to switch to a new and innovative way of working.”
How does that work? A new and innovative way of working?
“Take a project manager as an example. With an ERP system he or she can only check whether the project is running (financially) on schedule. With a Data Management Program the technical and project part can also be checked. However, so much more is possible. For example, the project manager can ask a supplier to add the necessary information directly to the project. He can then forward the received information directly to the workplace. This changes the role of such functions completely. As far as I am concerned, it will be much more challenging because everybody will work knowledge-driven with all data, from project manager to the workplace and from engineer to customer. Add the fact that everything can be monitored and adjusted in real time: that is what truly innovative working is about. However, a Data Management Program must meet an important condition to make all this possible.”
What is the condition that must be met by a good Data Management Program?
“For us, innovative working also means that we make work in the maritime sector more enjoyable. I cannot find that in many old-fashioned, reactive Data Management Programs. I mean that you have to enter the data again and again for every project and only then you can get started with it. This way you can hardly be innovative. And let's face it, having to fill in such a system again and again is not the most pleasant activity, let alone reinventing the wheel over and over again.
With Shipbuilder you build up a knowledge base. With every project you draw on this maritime knowledge base and you can improve it at the same time. As a result, your innovative strength will advance at full speed with every project.”
André concludes: “So yes, an ERP system is good for the financial activities in a company, but you don't build yachts and ships with it. In my opinion you really need a Data Management Program like Shipbuilder for that.”