Technology is a Tool

Too many times I’ve encountered tug and barge companies who are searching for software to solve problems within their organization. It’s become too easy to read about the functions and features of software or hardware, and consider it a means to immediate solutions to business problems. But here’s the hard truth of the matter, technology does not solve problems, it’s a tool. Much like that $10 million vessel, technology must be employed properly in order to reap its full benefits.

Tug companies in the U.S. spend significant capital on their vessels, whether building or buying new, or maintaining their equipment to keep them in operational condition. More and more though, the trend is to invest in systems and technology where we have become so heavily dependent on them, it’s become our first response to most of the business problems. The usual process that most tug companies go through involve the identification of problems by employees, then a process of prioritizing those problems in an effort to determine where technology dollars should be spent first.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this approach leads to uncover or create additional challenges. It is not uncommon that after a major investment in technology, that employees are still, if not more frustrated with their jobs, that the new systems have only met a small business objective, that reporting or other advertised benefits are not available, and that there exists a perceived, or real lack of IT support. For small to medium sized companies, employing technology must be done wisely, because it may not be able to afford to make bad technology investments.

Tug companies can take the following measures beforehand to ensure that technology is integrated well into their business:

  1. Define your objectives. What are you trying to accomplish and why? Build a technology roadmap where all relevant stakeholders can have a say in the process and be a part of defining those business objectives.

  2. Identify where you are today. First define your current business processes and workflows to understand where improvements can be made. Only after accomplishing this can you determine where technology can be used as an accelerant to your business.

  3. Apply technology appropriately. Armed with well defined objectives and business processes, you will have a much easier time choosing technologies to leverage your organization’s strengths. Additionally, rather than rollout one massive project with huge ROI expectations, choose to deploy smaller, shorter duration projects for more immediate quality improvements and substantially reduced risk.

Technology should not be viewed as the solution to all of our business problems, nor can it be blamed for all of our ills. With proper planning and forethought, it can be leveraged as a tool which leads to improved productivity and hence becomes a wise business investment.

Should you be looking to take on a project and don’t know where to start, contact us at or call 425.686.8209.

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