Princess Yachts International Plc, a division of luxury brand family LVMH, wanted to replace its labour-intensive, clunky and ageing time and attendance system with one that would address management needs now and into the future. A number of suppliers were considered but Crown Computing’s Open Options was selected.
Princess Yachts was founded in 1965 as a company called Marine Projects, making just 20-30 boats a year. Today it has expanded into a business that has almost one million square feet of factory floor space over six sites in the city of Plymouth and builds 200-plus boats each year. The company is now part of the renowned LVMH – Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton – family of luxury brands and continues to grow apace, having recently ventured into super-yacht construction territory.
The company’s existing time and attendance (T&A) system dated from the 1990s. Like many such systems it was very labour-intensive and user-unfriendly; any sort of activity such as labour analysis could take up to a week to retrieve information and get it into the right format. It was decided that a replacement that could deal with the numerous payroll shifts and hours and also the management of the workforce activity and boat build times was needed.
Payroll Manager Peter Bryson-Meehan explains how the company settled on Crown Computing to deliver its new system: “We went about selecting a supplier through a simple process of looking at the providers out there for a system that would allow us to adapt it to our way of working and which could prove it could operate quickly and effectively. It also needed to be able to show real-time information and help us to improve our existing processes. Crown won the business because we felt the product on offer (Open Options) was the best for what we needed. It was very quick, very smart, simple and adaptable and also the people we’d met from Crown were very willing to talk to us and work with us and obviously look at developing the system alongside us – as well as within their own remit and the system’s capabilities – to achieve what we needed.”
As Bryson-Meehan sees it, for Princess Yachts one of the most attractive features that Open Options provides is the management of the company’s varying shift patterns. He observes: “Within the manufacturing scope there are a lot of changes to what the men are working shift-wise and now it’s very simple, easy and quick to make those changes. Another major attraction is the speed of clock data recovery, which is instantaneous. This gives our managers greater autonomy over their own environments so they can deal with absences and anything else that comes along more or less instantly.”
Preliminary user training on Open Options was managed by Crown, initially through a two-day session at their offices. Bryson-Meehan says this was a very good start for him and his colleagues, insofar as it allowed them to interrogate the system with an expert user present. He adds: “After that we received a lot of remote assistance from the helpdesk – we can ask them questions and they will walk us through solutions and fine-tune the system as they go.”
Princess Yachts’ utilisation of its Open Options system is growing almost as fast as the yacht builder itself. Bryson-Meehan explains: “We’re currently utilising the business process management module, which we use for a return-to-work process. Previously that had been a seven-step process, but Open Options enabled us to reduce it to just one and that greatly helps the various managers administer absence and the health and safety aspects of men returning to work. We also use the system’s activity management tool and this allows us to allocate hours to specific boat lines and other activities and therefore enables us to control and interrogate the time taken for certain things. That in turn allows us to improve the processes and also the boat build times.”
Open Options clearly has a bright future at Princess Yachts, as Bryson-Meehan confirms: “Today the main focus for the payroll department is the business process. We use it currently for managing the return-to-work aspect but we would also like to start doing so for other areas where management authorisation could be required, such as overtime, skill updates and training. Any of these could be used to trigger an event within the system that allows a manager to monitor and approve anything that needs to happen.”
Looking at the business benefits to Princess Yachts of using Open Options, Bryson-Meehan comments: “Firstly there’s the speed and efficiency with which the Crown system works and its adaptability. Another major benefit lies with the helpdesk and Crown’s staff and the fact they are friendly, always willing to talk to us and tackle problems as they arise and try to find the best solution for what we need.”