Mar 29, 2022
In General Discussions
I had a great chance to catch up with a former colleague today on a visit to a nearby port. We had a very interesting exchange about some of the challenges he still faces, and one of the things that frustrated him most was the challenge of streamlining the issue of invoices to the customer. The ability to process an invoice efficiently into a customer system has a material impact on cash flow. Reducing the time taken to process the invoice means earlier payment. Over the course of thousands of invoices, it has the potential to make a huge difference to the business. His biggest frustration is that every customer asks for a different format or has a different submission process, and they all believe it should be the responsibility of the port to meet their needs. With potentially hundreds of customers, that could be a costly and time consuming exercise for the port, which the port is understandably hesitant to invest in. Could this be an opportunity for ports and terminals to come together and agree to use a common standard? There are definite upsides to this standardisation: - 1. Ports and Terminals only need to develop one standard electronic invoice format 2. Shipping Lines and other customers would be more likely to accept the cost of development on their side if they knew it would be a consistent format from all ports 3. Invoices and payments would move through the system more quickly (although customers paying earlier might not see that as an upside) Has anyone had any experience of implementing a standard electronic invoice format across all customers? What other value did it add? What challenges and potential downsides or unintended consequences did you experience? How did you overcome them? Has anyone carried out a cost/benefit analysis to evaluate whether the improved cash flow covered the costs of individual developments to customer specs? Was there a minimum customer value at which point it becomes feasible to develop an individual solution? Also, is anyone aware of any current initiatives to standardise electronic invoice formats across the industry? If there isn’t one would anyone be interested in forming a group to develop one? Or is there a different opportunity here for an alternative solution? A piece of middleware to do the translation between the ports standard invoice, and the customers required format, perhaps?
Mar 03, 2022
In General Discussions
Hello. Thanks for joining us in the Smart Ports Alliance forum. As you (hopefully) already know, the purpose of the Smart Ports Alliance is to provide practical knowledge, tools and resources to help ports and terminals to make informed choices about the application of technology in their organisation. The forum is part of that… a place where port and terminal executives, operational personnel, transformation practitioners and service/solutions providers can come together to discuss in practical terms (no sales pitches please) the value and application of technology, and the techniques and skills required to maximise the benefits of technology in the modern business environment. This is your resource. Please use it responsibly. Healthy debate is encouraged, but please keep it professional. As always it is a matter of perspective. Things that work for one port may not work elsewhere. There’s no right or wrong. But if we all work collectively to create a better understanding, our industry will benefit as a whole. We’ve started off some channels to get things going, but if you don’t see a conversation about a topic that interests you, feel free to start it. If you’d like to ask a question, share a success story or maybe some news about a project you’re working on, there are some channels for that too. If you’re unsure about anything please feel free to drop me a message and I’ll do all I can to help. Im looking forward to working with you all to take our industry forward.