A 60-year-old full-service global transportation and logistics company embraces digital automation, ultimately, preparing the organization for a worldwide pandemic in the process.

By: Vincenzo Minino, Director of Quality Compliance at Compass Forwarding

Located in Jamaica, New York, Compass Forwarding has been operating in the shipping industry for more than half a century, focusing on providing our customers with the most efficient, cost-effective services available.

As an international logistics company, we are constantly managing shipments throughout their entire life cycle. Like many organizations in the industry, we face strict compliance regulations that need to be met daily. One of our most important services is getting air cargo shipped on time, and this involves multiple signatures from various stakeholders to meet our compliance obligations and allow our shipments to leave the airport. As our businesses has grown and expanded with a wide variety of specialty services, we began to realize that our legacy processes would soon not be able to keep up with our pace of business. Manual tasks in each process were time consuming, leading to disruptions and delayed shipments.

Aiming to boost efficiency while increasing visibility into our processes and maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements, we launched a digital transformation powered by an enterprise content management software to automate key business processes.

Addressing the Problem with Manual Processes

We worked with Accelerated Information Systems (AIS), a professional services firm, to implement Laserfiche ECM. With the help of the new technology, we were able to quickly digitize and automate the process for getting air cargo shipped on time, which required multiple signatures from various departments. We deployed electronic forms to capture shipment information, which is automatically routed for signatures and approvals. These eliminated the chance that shipments arrive at the airport without the necessary signoffs and delay the shipment. Staff can also use mobile devices to instantly complete outstanding tasks with the necessary forms and documents at their fingertips.

This addressed a major pain point in a core process, while also reclaiming staff hours from manual entry and allowing them to focus on our most important priorities, such as customer service.

Prepared for the Pandemic

Prior to the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, our content management and process automation system had already become one of our most valuable assets. But when the pandemic broke out we were reminded how important it was that we implemented this digital platform. As it became clear daily life would be drastically changed due to COVID-19, figuring out how to set up an office from home and keep business running was key. For us, we simply needed to make sure our staff had the appropriate hardware — our central digital hub of information and processes that staff could access from anywhere was already in place.

We didn’t need to worry about a login service for customers, even though our workforce was no longer physically in the office. We are able to automatically notify customers based on key metadata housed within our system, which has eliminated the need for staff to give them status updates. Everyone who needs up-to-the-minute information on any given shipment or task has it, without the need for manual human follow up. Plus, without a dependence on physical paper, coupled with our extensive repository search and organizational features, staff never has to worry about if they left important files back in the office — everything is right at their fingertips from any internet-connected device.

Beyond the impact on our clients, being able to immediately socially distance when the order was put in place in New York meant decreasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 to our staff and their family. The decision between health and career didn’t need to be piled on top of the stress of living through the pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 across the globe has transformed not only the way we live but also the way we do business. The unprecedented millions of unemployment claims in early April 2021 showed us just how important it is to have a disaster management plan in place before a disaster is even on the horizon. Our forward-thinking approach helped not only continue to get business done for clients, but also mitigate the detrimental effect of halting business and how that would have affected our staff’s lives.

The pandemic disrupted not only our shipping logistics we were also presented with new disturbances to our internal processes.
The pandemic disrupted not only our shipping logistics we were also presented with new disturbances to our internal processes.

Continuing our Digital Journey

In the future, we hope to continue focusing on automating more business applications, especially focusing on the billing and accounting departments as we aim to free up even more time for staff. Shifting some employees away from manual data entry so they can instead focus on more value-added tasks will be key across departments. There is no going back for us now – automation and digitization have really revolutionized our business and the speed in which we are able to operate. Automation has given us the ability to tap into more of our organizational potential.

vincenzo minino compass forwarding
Vincenzo Minino

Vincenzo Minino is the Director of Quality Compliance at Compass Forwarding, where he has been working since 2008. Before this, he was an operations manager at RBA Inc.