What do you do? Describe your company.
The Interlake Steamship Company operates 9 self-unloading bulk carriers on the Great Lakes in the U.S and Canada. We primarily haul iron ore for the production of steel and coal for use in power generation. We also carry various types if stone, and salt.
What was your problem, and what challenges prevented you from easily solving the problem?
Our problem was delivery of our quality system. We are unique in the shipping industry because as a Great Lakes operator we are not required to conform to the ISM code put forth by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Since the early 2000’s we voluntarily adopted the ISO 9001. It was however seldom used or referenced as it was printed into 8 different binders with very little control in updating along with enforcing the policies inside. Our original problem was revamping our entire system to reflect how we actually do business and how we implement it in a way that is easy to use and access.
How did you find out about our solution? Did you consider other providers? What criteria did you use to select BPA and Microsoft?
I found out about BPA while searching the internet for “QMS and SharePoint”. We had already adopted the whole Microsoft Suite and had committed to using SharePoint as our document retention and control system. There were other providers that offered services to develop SharePoint from the bottom up around an existing QMS. Our QMS had then been completely dismantled and none of the other providers offered the services or complete solution that BPA Quality does.
What was the solution? How did it address your challenges?
The solution was to deploy BPA Quality inside our existing SharePoint Online as a new Team Site and leverage Power Automate for business process automation. It addressed our challenges by allowing us to be able to change and mold our system into something that works for us. Our system is still developing, and it gives us the freedom to launch in phases rather than all at once.
How did you implement the solution? How long did it take? What new challenges did the implementation create?
We worked in online sessions with our project lead to first understand the out of the box modules and get trained on the BPA configuration capabilities. Then we had several workshops to review our specific needs, receive guidance and configure options together which further enabled us in SharePoint and BPA. Between our weekly sessions, we configured the system ourselves. We successfully launched a platform to report Nonconformities and conduct Audits as our first phase only 4 months after the start of the project.
Some new challenges are getting others trained in the BPA environment and the ability to be so customizable that the project can quickly get somewhat overwhelming for one person.
What results did you gain from BPA Solutions – both anecdotally and measurably?
We have seen better document control and organization of processes. Measurably we have seen an uptick in reporting of Nonconformities as the platform provides an easy way to do so. This will hopefully lead to other measurable results in corrective actions and a cost savings.
Was there anything spectacular about how easy it was to deploy, or engage employees?
“I have very limited computer knowledge outside of web browsing, email, and basic Microsoft apps so it was amazing to me how fast I was able to pick up on making changes and configurations within SharePoint and BPA Quality with the help and instruction from our project lead”, said Mr. Jason Kolar, Assistant Operations Manager.