16 Dec 2020
Amanda Jones
Marketing Coordinator

Portugs operating in the Port of Lisbon

In July 2020, Portugs, a Portuguese harbor services company owned by Grupo Sousa, made an innovative change to their operations in order to streamline a tedious manual process and improve communication with their agents. Using an integration between Helm CONNECT and their existing email client, Mailgun, Portugs now sends order confirmation emails automatically once jobs are scheduled. This change—which has improved communication with their agents and dramatically reduced errors—allows Portugs to invoice faster, thereby maximizing their billing revenue and improving their cash flow.

When Portugs changed ownership in January 2020, their Operations Manager, Rui Rolo, was given the task of choosing a new vessel management system to manage their operations. During his search, Rui found very few systems that could offer a complete solution for harbor towage, until he remembered Helm CONNECT. Our software struck him with its power and flexibility, making his decision clear. “The product is simple to use and very customizable,” Rui told us. “Once you understand the logic behind it you can do almost anything without having to request changes from developers.”

In early 2020, Rui began working with our Latin American team to implement Helm CONNECT at Portugs. Early in the project, Rui explained that one of his biggest problems was poor communication with local agents and customers, “Customers will call the local agent to book a job, and then the agent will contact us to schedule it. If there is a misunderstanding between us and the agent or the customer, we never know who is speaking the truth because there is no written confirmation of what was discussed. Often this leads to lost time and revenue. We tried sending emails to the agents after our call to confirm the details, but when we had several jobs with different agents, it became too complicated to manage that manual process.” Our Account Manager, Diego Vasquez, came up with a solution to Rui’s problem and, after some research and testing, they were able to leverage the business rules in Helm CONNECT Jobs and an integration with Portugs’ email client, Mailgun, to pull order information from Helm CONNECT and send confirmation emails automatically to the agents.

For the Portugs operators, the improved workflow was easy to learn because the steps were almost identical to their old one. They still book the job over the phone with the agent and enter the details into the order screen in Helm CONNECT but now, instead of having to write a confirmation email to the agent after each call, they simply enter “1” into a custom field on the order labeled “email” and let the business rules in Helm CONNECT do the rest. At Portugs, “1” means “booking confirmation”, so when it’s entered into the email field, the business rule pulls the data from the order screen and emails a booking confirmation email to the listed agent. If changes are requested, the operator simply goes back into the order and updates the email field to “2”, which means “booking alteration”, triggering another email to be sent to the agent with the updated details.

Portugs has been using the integration between Helm CONNECT and Mailgun since July 2020 and it’s been running smoothly ever since. “This new process has already saved us money,” Rui told us. “There have been a few times where the agent has called us to say we sent an extra tug or arrived early, but with the email confirmation we can quickly prove that isn’t what the order was for and no changes were requested to it. Before we had those emails, we couldn’t prove anything, so we lost out on revenue. Now mistakes rarely occur but, if they do, they’re quickly resolved. Overall, implementing this process has reduced errors and allowed us to invoice faster. It has maximized our billing revenue and improved the company’s overall cashflow.”

“I think the agents also benefit from the added communication that the emails provide. One time our operator forgot to update the email field to trigger the confirmation email, and we received a concerned call from the agent thinking there was a problem,” Rui continued. “Agents are always very busy, so having this email confirmation as part of the process prevents them from spending large amounts of time solving issues due to miscommunication around an order.” Having the details in an email also allows the agents to quickly forward it to the customers, echoing the information further and increasing communication and transparency between all parties involved.

Portugs is very happy with the results they’re seeing as well as the ongoing support they’ve received from the Helm team. According to Rui, “The support and communication we’ve received from Diego and the team in Brazil has been amazing. He came up to Lisbon for a week and, after he left, we were always online talking. Even now, we have a group on Whatsapp and whenever I need something from them, I message them and they’re always quick to respond.”

Looking ahead, Rui is excited to continue working with Helm, “Right now, we have separate systems for everything. Helm CONNECT for operations, another for maintenance, another for payroll, and so on. Now that I’ve seen the power of Helm CONNECT, I want to focus on eliminating unnecessary systems and moving things like our maintenance and crewing over to Helm CONNECT.”

Thank you to Rui and Portugs for sharing their story. If you’d like to learn more about our integration options or see how you can utilize the power of business rules in Helm CONNECT to maximize your billing revenue, contact our team today – we’d love to help!