Portagent has proved it! The company can handle three times more work with the same-sized team through intelligent and efficient digitalisation. The number of phone calls has decreased by 80%, and shipment processing has improved from 45 to 20 minutes per procedure. These improvements, multiplied over time, are driving a true digital evolution in local and international Business. Or should we call it a revolution of local and international Business?
Paper Pile Disaster
In 2003, Henryk Lisewski established Portagent in the port city of Bremerhaven on the German North Sea coast. At the time, Portagent was run solely by Henryk, who utilized Microsoft Access to handle the company workload and faced an abundant amount of paper documents. Despite this, the company’s process was ahead of its time as it had all its data organized in a single database. However, when Adam Lisewski became Portagent’s Managing Director in 2016, he found that despite these advancements, the company still relied on Microsoft Access and was overwhelmed by excessive paper documentation.
This disorganized system resulted in employees constantly searching for lost documents and piles of paper accumulating on their desks, forcing the company to dedicate more office space to sort the paper documents. This task took an entire week to complete, after which Adam realized that the company had reached its maximum capacity and could no longer scale the business using this method.
Made in Bremerhaven
Adam has Leveraged his IT experience from multinational corporations to revamp his father’s small business. He teamed up with salico Software Consulting and used a custom SharePoint solution as a proof of concept. This formed the basis for Odyssey, a specially designed interactive platform for Portagent that fueled the company’s growth. Odyssey boasts an easy-to-use interface and can only be accessed through a customer account, linking the company’s specialists and clients through a sophisticated tool. It improves processes such as customs clearance, container release, and transportation management. Adam considers Odyssey to be the best investment for the company’s future, bringing all players in the shipping industry onto one platform and offering user-friendly, adaptive, and fast services that appeal to customers. These digital solutions are created, tested, and aligned with the company’s management and logistics objectives in Bremerhaven.
The need for transparency and streamlined processes in port logistics is seen as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. And that’s why Adam sees Portagent as a hub for innovative IT solutions. Since not only does Portagent serve customers worldwide, allowing them to monitor their cargo throughout the entire shipment process, but the company is committed to continuously enhancing its systems and creating new ones. With salico, Portagent has developed emory, a cutting-edge digital inspection software designed for different inspection purposes. By installing emory on warehouse staff’s smartphones, cargo inspections can be conducted digitally, including scanning, photo capturing, document uploading, and immediate customer sharing, resulting in efficient, transparent, and paperless warehouse management.
Portagent values the security of its customer’s data as a top priority. The company’s software experts have thoroughly reviewed both Odyssey and emory and confirmed that they are completely secure systems. As a European company, Portagent complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policy, ensuring that any data accessible through its system can only be accessed by authorized individuals and is not available to anyone else.
The global COVID pandemic was a catastrophic event for many businesses in the shipping industry. However, for Portagent, the launch of Odyssey provided a way to weather the storm and even thrive. The Senior Customs Manager of Portagent, Peter Kuzniar, noted that even during the most challenging times, Odyssey allowed the company to grow and work more flexibly. With the ability to work from anywhere, the Portagent team and customers could easily upload documents and communicate, making it possible to continue with daily operations even during the pandemic. In hindsight, Portagent’s managing director realized how fortunate they were to have implemented the IT system before the pandemic hit, as many businesses were not as prepared and suffered severe long-term damage.
The transition to globalization was a challenging process for Portagent, but the team has adapted well to the new system. The paper-based system is now a thing of the past and employees no longer miss it. Portagent has demonstrated its efficiency with Odyssey, handling three times the volume of work with the same number of employees and reducing the risk of errors while providing more time for customer service. The instant access to information has also led to a decrease in phone calls by 80%.
Portagent’s shift to cloud technology has enabled the team to concentrate on their customers’ needs and the company’s projects. The software consultants at salico concur that this has significantly improved the process, reducing transaction time from 40-60 minutes to just 20 minutes per shipment, with a goal to save an additional 5 minutes per shipment in the future.
The implementation of Odyssey’s digital solutions has streamlined Portagent’s workflow and showcased its dedication to sustainability by creating a paperless office. This has made Portagent more efficient and solidified environmental responsibility as a core value of the company.
Human and Digital Strengths
Portagent balances its use of technology and its dedication to maintaining a personal touch in its business dealings. The digital solutions integrated into the company’s workflow have empowered the Portagent employees and made communication with customers more transparent and convenient. However, the Portagent team recognizes that technology cannot replace the value of personal connections in business and continues to prioritize human relationships with customers and within the company. The team remains accessible for personal communication, gathering feedback and understanding customers´ needs.
The integration of technology will not diminish Portagent’s human strengths, but rather enhance them. It will facilitate employees in handling administrative tasks with greater efficiency and delivering better services to customers and partners, while also elevating the overall experience for employees within the company.
The Bright Future
Today, Adam envisions a promising future for Portagent and Bremerhaven, with significant growth prospects, due to its advantageous location at the gateway to the European free trade zone and its proximity to the customs office which is just 100 meters away from its warehouse. He is hopeful about the digitalisation efforts of both entities, and also has plans to implement a system where truck drivers can enter the company yard by scanning their license plate, which will prompt the gate to open. This will enable the Portagent warehouse team to quickly respond, as information will be processed and transmitted efficiently. Adam believes this solution will be a catalyst for the company’s further growth.
Salico and Portagent hold a positive outlook for the company’s future and anticipate that the German Customs Authority will soon adopt new digital solutions. The customs office is making frequent updates and changes to its IT system, indicating a move towards a paperless office in the near future.
Portagent keeps uncovering new possibilities in both digital customs clearance solutions and the upcoming digital warehouse system, and its story of innovation is ongoing. Its current IT solutions offer numerous avenues for improvement, making it a continuous process.