BIM e-Solutions

No more manual cargo administration thanks to this user-friendly ECTN platform we developed for BIM e-Solutions.

The client

When exporting to certain African countries, shippers are obliged to present waiver documents for the cargo to comply with local import regulations. These documents are submitted for validation by the local authorities of the destination country (e.g. customs.) BIM e-Solutions was the first company in the world to successfully develop and implement an Electronic Cargo Tracking Note platform (ECTN platform) to digitalize this documentation flow. Their electronic follow-up of cargo enables better management of trade and an overview of goods entering the country.

BIM found a strong partner for the further development of the ECTN platform in Verhaert Digital.

The challenge

In a landlocked country like Burkina Faso, the import economy relies heavily on the surrounding countries with maritime access. Waiver documents are therefore very important. They are essential to keep track of which goods are due to arrive from neighboring ports.

“Cargo tracking note management was mainly a paper process in the past, so it was very much fit for dematerialization”, says Business Development Manager Tim Michielsen. “In 2018, our ECTN platform had become outdated, causing compatibility issues. Running an outdated platform is costly and difficult to manage from an operational point of view.”

For BIM e-Solutions, it was important to have a user-friendly ECTN platform that automates the process of administration as much as possible and avoids manual errors. It had to send in-app notifications to users and remove the need for external communication via email. It was also essential that the platform was scalable and future-proof.

BIM e-Solutions turned to Verhaert Digital to develop a new ECTN platform to ease the workload for forwarders, local agents and other stakeholders.

“Verhaert Digital was cut out for our assignment. They have a clear view on technology and put a lot of effort in understanding our business before automating in the smartest way.”

– Tim Michielsen, Business Development Manager  BIM e-Solutions –

The solution

We created 3 horizons in our strategy: today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

Today: fixing the basics

We started by fixing the basics: data consistency, avoiding manual work and reducing room for errors. This way BIM would have more time to focus on client relations, managing their agent network and developing new products and services.

Tomorrow: a brand-new ECTN platform

Optimizing only the internal processes is not enough to create a loyal user base and warm relationships with all stakeholders involved. That’s why we built a new portal and ECTN platform focused on usability. Supporting and automating administrative processes saves users huge amounts of time and creates much more reliable data. The helpdesk workload dropped offering BIM valuable time to focus on more important matters. Under the hood, we built a scalable and robust infrastructure, solid pipelines and agile processes to support continuous improvements and development of new features.

The day after tomorrow: a brand-new offering

With maximum automation, reduced overhead costs, consistent data and happy users, it was time for the next step: an updated offering. With all the generated data (all cargo that enters the country over sea, is registered through the application), opportunities are endless. But endless doesn’t mean easy. Profound knowledge of all the processes, both administrative and on the ground, needs to be combined with the technical expertise of data scientists and business needs. Crosschecking data, drawing on external sources and looking for anomalies, created new ways of looking at the data sets. Transforming data into information, information into insights and insights into actions, BIM enters a new era. After being a facilitator for several decades, BIM has become a trusted advisor and partner of local authorities. At the same time, they bring a top-notch service to all companies managing import administration in Africa.

Working together

Verhaert Digital did not skip any step in the process. “They started with different workshops to gain insights into the entire process. They fully grasped who uses the ECTN platform in practice and what tasks users perform. Within this framework, it is easier to list all the functional requirements and design wireframes to verify everything. What is extremely useful as a customer, is that Verhaert Digital has a transparent way of working. We work as partners, blending our teams and sharing knowledge which is enriching for both parties”, says Tim Michielsen.