Client: Western Bulk Chartering AS
Western Bulk Chartering AS, known commonly as Western Bulk, is a leading dry bulk shipping company that combines solid shipping experience with an asset-light, decentralized, and trading-oriented model. The company uses risk management as a guiding principle for all decisions, and empowers its worldwide business units with a high degree of autonomy.
The Most Advanced Solution in the Market
In early 2014, Western Bulk undertook a complete review of its software systems. “We wanted to be sure we had the most competitive solution in the market, and we were concerned that we were falling behind with our existing system,” says Egil Husby, Chief Risk Officer for Western Bulk.
In fact, the company’s voyage management and risk management systems could not talk to one another and required time-consuming dual input. Limitations in the voyage management system meant that various tasks also required separate Excel spreadsheets.
Western Bulk’s goal was to implement a truly integrated system that would deliver streamlined workflows, data consistency, and full reporting capabilities in order to support swift and well-informed decision-making.
A Data-Driven Decision
“We didn’t want to go by gut for this critical business decision,” says Husby. “Our review was thoroughly researched and data-driven.”
The team reviewed the competitive systems available in the market, and scored each solution from a functional, technical, and cost perspective. Western Bulk chose Veson Nautical based on overall return on investment.
Implementation Done Right: Veson Leads a Collaborative Team
At the end of 2014, Western Bulk began implementation of IMOS and Veslink across their 100+ users and vessels. The decision was made to embed a Veson Nautical project manager onsite at Western Bulk to own the project. This embedded PM played a pivotal role driving the implementation, directing the Western Bulk project team, stakeholders, and users, as well as guiding the Veson Nautical project team. Tone Ekman, Senior Consultant for Veson Nautical, was the embedded PM who led the project.
“We felt it was important for Veson to own the project and be in charge. With a specialized product such as IMOS, a general project manager doesn’t have the necessary depth of understanding or access to the right people,” says Egil Helland, Consultant, Dynamic AS, who worked with Western Bulk throughout the project. “Tone Ekman has tremendous product knowledge as well as a deep functional understanding of the shipping industry. That makes all the difference with an implementation like this.”
The project team proactively kept Western Bulk stakeholders and users well-informed by providing regular reports to the steering committee and other staff, implementing a set schedule of project meetings, and launching an internal project website that kept everyone updated throughout the implementation lifecycle.
Additionally, early on, Western Bulk identified a group of internal champions and Super Users who helped shape how each department would best use IMOS and Veslink. Ekman and the project team created detailed workflow maps to help streamline processes and improve decision-making based on shared and timely data.
“Western Bulk understood that a successful implementation requires active commitment, planning, and focus. We were successful because we had all the resources required, including dedicated project coordinators and an excellent team that took ownership every step of the way,” says Ekman.
Jesse DiIanni, Vice President of Professional Services at Veson Nautical noted, “Embedding a Veson PM during the software implementation is an effective way to ensure project success and alignment, to identify and resolve issues swiftly, and to deliver seamless training. We were pleased to work with Western Bulk in this manner to support their goals, and highly recommend this approach.”
Advice from Western Bulk: Be Ambitious but Don’t Rush the Process
What advice does Western Bulk have for companies considering a new software system?
“With a transition like this–particularly if you are replacing a system–it feels like replacing the spine of the company. You have to be careful and make sure to involve senior management early in the process,” says Husby. “My advice is to make time for all the steps, beginning with difficult discussions about changing some long-established processes. You need to be both ambitious in your goals and very systematic in your implementation.”
Western Bulk Migrates to the Veslink IMOS Platform
In April of 2018, Western Bulk extended its relationship with Veson Nautical by migrating to the Veslink IMOS Platform. Western Bulk made the decision to implement the Veslink IMOS Platform as part of its ongoing digital transformation initiative.
According to Martin Hjelle, Head of Technology & Digital Strategy at Western Bulk, “We are a global company, and one of our reasons for moving to the new Platform was to improve speed and performance at our offices around the world. We also wanted to give our employees better mobility and the freedom to work from any device simply using their browser.”
He continued, “When working with digitalization, we feel that it is very important to balance present with future thinking. We need to both exploit our current business model, and to explore new opportunities. By moving to the new Platform, Veson is helping us to improve our operational effectiveness. And, when looking at the future, we feel that Veson is listening to our needs, and we do believe that our companies have a good match on strategy for moving forward. Together we will develop and explore new possibilities, and new ways of working.”