Why do we still spend 30 percent of our time looking for information? – Column Geert Schouten


I’ve recently posted the message on LinkedIn that almost a third of a working day is spent on the search for information at maritime companies. I received a lot of questions about that. It is clear that shipbuilders are concerned about this. Every day I see people searching for documents and the right information for hours. Let me tell you about the practice at many maritime companies through an anecdote and give you the final solution: finding the information in seconds.

John works for a shipbuilding company and searches for documents every day. Today he is looking for a drawing of the ship that is being built at his yard but he cannot find the drawing on the file server. How is that possible, John thinks. But wait a minute, he received the file two months ago from Alice, one of the contractors in the project. He opens his Outlook and indeed, he finds the drawing there. John calls Alice to check if this is the most recent version of the drawing. However, she has just gone on holidays for three weeks. Fortunately John gets her colleague on the phone. However, he wonders how Alice got that version, because he only has an older version on the basis of which they have been performing their work for the past few weeks.

For many maritime companies the above anecdote is a reality and I myself come across it every day. A study that was carried out by my company shows that this working method causes losses of a few millions. Considering an average maritime project, we are talking about a loss of 5 to 10 million euros.

And you tell me, does John really like this activity of searching for drawings and other information? Does he find it really challenging to have to check again and again whether he is working with the latest version? In addition, this way of working implies that we spend a lot of time searching for the right information. A study by MC Kinsey reveals that we spend 30 to 35 percent of our working days searching for and collecting information. That number gets even higher If you add the fact that we spend time, sending each other unnecessary emails with files.

Sending updates from files by e-mail also implies a lot of extra, unnecessary work as the updated information is not always relevant for the recipient. But as a rule, the mail is often sent to as many people involved within the organization as possible. Everyone must therefore take the time to find out if there are any changes that apply to him or her. Time-consuming!

Obviously, many companies are looking for a solution. An option that is frequently chosen is a document control system where at least all documents are together within a system. However, the information is still hidden in hundreds to thousands of files so such a system still does not relieve the search work and there is a high risk for errors.

We started the Shipbuilder software company eight years ago. A smart data management program that allows our customers to switch from document-driven to data-driven work. The result: only 5 percent of the working day is spent on searching for information, which means that what is being looked for, is immediately found. So let’s stop searching endlessly for information and mailing files around as this is no longer necessary in the year 2019.

As published on Marinelink.com

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