Behind the scenes with the largest change management exercise currently being undertaken in the maritime and logistics arena in India.

The solution scope and challenges overcome

The tender was awarded by IPA in May 2018. The solution scope was to migrate the older version, launched in 2006 as PCS1.0, “as-is” to a cloud platform; and thereafter providing various value adds such as mobile application, interactive dashboards, 24x7 support wrapped around a modern and intuitive user interface. By doing this we were to expand the user base from the 7 stakeholders of the previous PCS to 27 stakeholders of PCS1x.

Migration of the old solution needed full access to updated business requirement documents, system requirement documents, source-code, technical components and the active database. 

When the project execution commenced, it emerged that migrating was not feasible, however, thanks to the support received from the IPA and all their members as well as the proactive decisions of Portall management it was decided to rebuild the port community system afresh. The rebuilt solution was focused on enhanced user experience and state-of-the-art user interface, besides the best in class enterprise service bus – the IBM ESB.

So while the scope increased the team managed to put together the entire solution within the stated timelines.

The Portall team worked round the clock on delivery, while IPA worked with the various trade associations on requirements and we saw that we completed the larger scope and were able to meet the launch date directive of the IPA and MOS of 11th December 2018.

The implementation related challenges faced and overcome

On the date of Launch , some back data was not available, and the apex associations were taken into confidence and requested for support to approve our going live regardless, thus entailing manual updates for missing data within a short period of time.

At Ports - UAT servers were not always available and they were quickly organized at Portall premises for all users and all IPA members assigned teams to visit and test onsite at Portall.

Differing Port operating systems and Terminal systems threw up need for alternate means of message delivery which were determined at short notice by the teams on both sides and delivered.

To enable payment on PCS1x banks needed to be onboarded again, and the last effort having been 10 years back, the banks and their local branches took a lot of time to get their IT readiness, protocols etc in place. Delays and errors from Banks meant an irate trade needed to work manually for a few weeks.

Through the active support of the IPA, The port nodal officers, the authorities at customs, JS Ports, and the various trade associations this difficult phase was overcome with relative ease.

  • SITPOS (Current situation position)
  • 13 Major ports, 5 minor ports, 8 private terminals - onboarded
  • Customs / Concor / DGLL - onboarded
  • Total registered users on PCS1x – 6286
  • Messages moved in one day – 37691
  • Payments transacted in one day – Rs.19.86 cr (30th April 19)
  • TAT (turnaround time) for Customs messages – 3.2 min
  • TAT (turnaround time) for other messages – 0.8 sec

Change and perception management, the road ahead …

The statistics shown above prove that Portall has indeed successfully effected delivery and performance of the PCS1x, as committed in the tender, we are now ready for on-boarding all twenty seven stakeholders to maximize the utility and transformation power of the platform.

The vision has a buy in from the entire ecosystem and now we need to overcome corporate inertia and all come aboard. Thereon we will need to drive the enhancements needed by stakeholders in a transparent and effective manner.

Some key perception issues encountered when speaking with the various important stakeholders of PCS -

Q : How can I allow a private company access to my Data? What is the Security of my data?

Ans : Data rests with IPA and is hosted by SIFY who were chosen for their prior experience and credentials with MietY and secure India based Servers. Several in-depth security protocols including data encryption, VAPT audits etc., have been put into place to ensure data is secure and tamper proof while in motion and while at rest.

Stringent process controls monitor who has access to the database and authentication controls and Security audits ensure that the activity is authorized by IPA. More information is on the IPA website for reference.

Q : I have managed this way for so long, I have small local solutions to these problems – why do we all need to embrace one platform?

Ans : The PCS if fully adopted in India will revolutionize the way we do business in this country and show a sizable improvement in our LPI, aid all EXIM businesses to grow and usher in an age of full digitization for the industry.

The ills of fragmented systems are well known, the costs of the change have been consciously kept very low – we really need to embrace the change for our own benefit and that of the final user – the exporter and importer, the consumer.

Q : Is IPA or some other body trying to gain control ? Will it hurt my current business?

Ans : The story and value of the Indian PCS is far beyond its creators, whether IPA or Portall, the Govt of India recognizes the immense transformation power of the platform and wants to mandate usage by all ports and terminals in India.

There are several nations that have successfully adopted a PCS and we have studied and learnt from many. We are prepared to add value to all 27 identified stakeholders of the Indian PCS and look forward to doing more on a continual basis.

It is an open platform and will infact encourage and nurture smart tech startups that want to serve the Maritime ecosystem.

Come join PCS1x

If you are a freight forwarder, a customs house broker, a 3PL logistics company, a CFS/ICD operator, a Port / terminal operator, a Transporter, a Rail Haulier, a Steamer agent, a shipping Line, an NVOCC, a Customs official or any other player in the Maritime ecosystem of India, the PCS1x has something of value to offer you.

Portall is running a campaign titled # All aboard in 90 days as the first of many sprints to get maximum adoption of the PCS.

During this campaign we will get the maximum number of companies and associations to commence using the PCS, and parallelly we will produce a road map of multiple value additions and new features for the better good of the trade and to bridge the gap between PCS1x and its own successor, thus future proofing the platform.

The learnings gained in the PCS 1x journey, from the tender award to the current high paced campaign have been invaluable and Portall indeed feels honored to be tasked thus.

Contact the Portall team today if you would like to be a facilitator to full adoption of the PCS1x