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01 Jul 2021
Successful changeover from traditional messaging management systems to Microsoft 365 in the shipping sector

The Challenge

Effective communication has always been a challenge for the shipping sector because it is vital that the company can check the ship and the ship can contact the company without trouble. In the past, communication was handled by radio operators, but then satellite communications came into play, and a form of written communication, Telex, was introduced. With Telex, when the ship contacted the company, the message would first be received on paper and then distributed to the whole company. After that, the company’s reply would be written on paper and sent to the ship. That technology served as the forerunner of modern fax, email, and text messaging, and although it lacked features and flexibility it remained popular in the shipping sector until the ’90s. Eventually, Telex became digital and paperless, but it still had no personalization in terms of messaging. Still, there was no sender, no recipient, no network. The same principles applied to fax, which appeared later on and became a staple for landlines and ships. Images could be transmitted through fax, allowing for certifications and other documents to be sent through.

When email first appeared, a unique email address was matched to each company. At the time, shipping companies did not use email to communicate with their ships. Instead, they used message management systems, which were not user-specific. During the ‘00s, when each person came to know what an email is and everyone acquired a personal email address, the need for personalized communication inside every shipping company emerged. Meanwhile, the decrease in internet costs contributed to the evolution of messaging regarding frequency, data volume, and features. However, messaging apps were hard to adapt, because they were initially designed in a particular, traditional way in order to fit the practices of the shipping sector, thus limiting the possible changes and improvements. As a result, a great amount of software was built using older technology. 

The Solution

In the ‘10s, Greek shipowners’ offspring,  most of them with influences from their studies abroad, suggested that the outdated message management systems should be replaced by email systems. With these attempts, shipping companies were faced with certain difficulties, mostly related to the fact that simple email management solutions do not suffice in cases of large shipping companies. This is where Astris came in. 

MetaDocs team comprises consultants who know exactly how the shipping sector and the messaging managers work, and who are capable of helping any company with the changeover. Our company is equipped with all the tools and technology needed to facilitate a shipping company’s move from message managers to Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365): The know-how, the software, and the best practices.

However, we hold one more key to success, when faced with the challenge of change management. Instead of a traditional training program, we offer hand-holding and specialized support to achieve a smooth switchover. Two approaches are used in this process: The first method consists of operating both systems (messaging manager and email management) simultaneously for a few months so that the users have the time to adapt without encountering any problems. The second method includes offering one brief training at the beginning and one more thorough training the day before the transition. Thereafter, on-site consultants are available to offer employees on-the-job training and direct assistance.

Interesting facts

  • There are still many companies that work with old systems (message managers)
  • MetaDocs has been successful in 10 changeovers with over 1000 users so far
  • Zero fails have been recorded. No client has ever returned to their old system

  • Communication has always been important in the shipping sector, and various systems have been used through the years.
  • Email handling is challenging for larger shipping companies, whose email management needs cannot be met using Microsoft Outlook 365 alone.
  • MetaDocs offers the right software (Astris Teamware Suite), the best practices, and the necessary training to ensure the most successful changeover possible.

  • Transition from an outdated system with lots of limitations, to a new and efficient way of working
  • Smooth changeover that ensures proper training and success
  • Ability to work in teams and make the most of Microsoft 365

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft 365
  • Astris TeamWare Suite
A unique way to manage your emails using Outlook 365