The DNV GL Group based in Horvik and Hamburg, with around 15,000 employees at over 200 locations in over 80 countries, is considered the international "TÜV" of the shipping industry. Through the business unit and subsidiary "GL Maritime Software GmbH", the company develops and distributes comprehensive solutions to increase efficiency, i.a. in the areas of Ship & Fleet Management, Crew Management, Maintenance and Operations. In order to provide international shipping customers with uncompromisingly competent and effective support for their software products, the specialist for maritime solutions relies on the integrated service management suite EcholoN from Hamburg-based mIT solutions. With EcholoN, the company intends in the long term to closely integrate into its own product family in order to provide customers with comprehensive service, workflow control and knowledge functions beyond the existing range of services.
The “GL Maritime Software” business unit has grown significantly since the company was founded in 1999, initially with three employees, to over 50 today. The company has also steadily increased the number of customers since then. The solutions of GL Maritime Software are now used worldwide on more than 900 cruise ships, container ships, tankers, ferries or ro-ro ships, bulk carriers as well as on ships of the Federal Police and coast guard.
Germanischer Lloyd headquarters in Hamburg with one of the offices of GL Maritime Software GmbH (Image source: GL Group)
Previous service tools reached their limits of effectiveness
With the positive business development over the past few years, the need for an integrated service management solution to control service processes and support for project management has grown. An isolated solution has so far been used for the development, but in addition to the lack of system integration, it did not offer the required range of functions in the future. “In service, there have always been efforts to support the processes with the help of external tools - but not with the desired result. In order to meet the growing need for tickets, a holistic solution was needed", recalls Alexander Rux, Head of Service at GL Maritime Software GmbH, "which also offers customers the option of independently solving tickets using an integrated knowledge database."
Holistic service solution wanted
So in 2011 the management decided to automate the service and development processes with a professional service management solution. As a result, essential requirements were first defined that will be placed on the future system. The future software should not only represent the complex service processes of the software specialist for the shipping industry consistently and reliably, but also bring the necessary flexibility for further company growth and additional application areas.
The areas of service management, incident management and configuration management database (CMDB) should also be mapped comprehensively and fully integrated. With the use of the software, however, the aim was not only to streamline and automate the service processes i.a. with the help of a self-service portal for the company's own customers. An integrated project management should simplify and monitor the control of the processes around the software implementation projects of the GL customers.
"The greatest solution competence was conveyed by the consultants of Hamburg-based mIT solutions GmbH, who with their holistic, .Net-based Service Management Suite EcholoN offered the right 'cover' for our complex system requirements," summarizes Rux. “Ultimately, in mIT solutions GmbH and EcholoN, we found a competent and reliable partner who met all of our system and service provider requirements and also offered the proximity to our location in Hamburg. This makes the collaboration professional, accessible and smooth at the same time. ”
Service processes were reorganized first
When the implementation of EcholoN was commissioned, a needs-based consulting package was also put together and purchased. In subsequent workshops, the previous service processes were first documented and analyzed. On the one hand, this should identify the company-specific processes that should ultimately be adopted in EcholoN as part of the system parameterization.
On the other hand, the service and information workflows were also defined in the course of this in order to ensure efficient and reliable communication between the employees involved with EcholoN in the future. Due to the lack of system support in service, this area should also be the first in which EcholoN starts production. The EcholoN service module then went live for the first time in September 2012, followed by further modules.
Flexible CMDB configuration
With the help of EcholoN, Germanischer Lloyd's Maritime Software Unit can now handle complete change management and complete documentation in EcholoN - i.e. Customer-specific customizing, new release versions, solutions used and other changes to your customers' IT landscape can be recorded and maintained directly in EcholoN. The standards and individual configurations of the solutions that the customer purchases can be mapped with a high degree of flexibility in the EcholoN CMDB, so that the responsible service agents can quickly and effectively get a complete overview of the customer's status quo.
Today GL Maritime Software uses a comprehensive self-service portal to support its processes based on EcholoN, where customers can find helpful information and assistance in systematically recording and processing their incidents. With the help of this portal, the ships and owners can also get information about the current processing status of their service requests at any time. In addition, the portal provides users with a constantly expanding, product-specific knowledge database, so that the information required, for example in connection with functions or documentation, does not have to be requested from support first.
“This significantly relieves the load on our support team and our employees can fully concentrate on processing the processes. This enables us to continue to guarantee our customers the high level of service they are used to, even with a steadily growing number of users - and to do so without exploding the costs of managing the service volume”, emphasizes Rux.
With the use of EcholoN, Germanischer Lloyd was able to achieve a high degree of transparency in the area of maritime software regarding the respective support volume of the individual product lines. This not only significantly simplifies the planning and control of resources and service processes, but also gives GL Maritime Software a better understanding of customer problems, e.g. at a strategic level, in connection with training, system errors or configuration work. This is how the specialist for maritime solutions manages and maintains the majority of its customers' servers in their own server farms.
If, for example, changes are made to the database on a ship, a data transfer to the respective server is automatically established. "The evaluations of the support requests in EcholoN have shown that a good 15% of the incoming support requests are due to the failure of satellite connections," explains Rux. "We were able to provide our customers with a corresponding test routine and automation of the data synchronization in a timely manner, so that we were able to reduce the support volume quickly and sustainably."
Today, data transfer from the ship to the central server is guaranteed safely and reliably with EcholoN.
With this, GL Maritime Software is able to evaluate the support requests in quality and volume via integrated reporting, to categorize them in a targeted manner and to effectively include them in future release planning. In the long term, this also helps GL to reduce the number of support requests and to align the development and innovation cycles of its own solutions even more closely to the specific requirements of customers.
In the meantime, the specific requirements of the international locations such as Singapore and Hong Kong have also been implemented in EcholoN, so that the new service system based on EcholoN can be used worldwide to optimize service processes.