Case Study: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Finds Great Benefits From Invoice Management System

With 39 ships under five separate brands sailing in and out of dozens of ports worldwide Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd. is one of the world's premier cruise providers. It's understandable, then, that this organization receives literally thousands of invoices a year from Port Agents. Keeping track of all that paper and the corresponding payments is a daunting task that sent Dustin Nason, RCCL's Manager, Port Operations, looking for a way to improve the process. He found it in the Invoice Management System from Marine Software Solutions.

"I needed a smoother system," says Mr. Nason. "In the old environment, everything was done manually, which generated stacks of documents that had to be physically walked through the building for various authorizations and ultimately payment. There were delays, errors, and very little to no visibility as to where anything was in the process."

Invoice Management System (IMS) addresses all those concerns and more. Now, the Port Agent simply keys invoices into the web-based software using any computer connected to the Internet, and uploads scans of backup material. The system deconstructs the invoices into predefined authorization / payment categories and sends e-mail to the proper RCCL people. Invoices are paid quicker and with accurate tracking, which keeps RCCL's account with each Port Agent clearly reconciled. What's more, each step is tracked in real time via an online portal, so Mr. Nason's department and the Port Agents can see the status of any invoice at any time.

Getting IMS up and running was equally impressive. Says Mr. Nason: "I devised a technical spec of what I wanted, with Marine Software Solution's help. They provided guidance on how to make it work, and really got involved by understanding our needs from a business standpoint, then creating a system to get there. They invested their own time in this project, above and beyond the agreed hours, to make it the best it can be. They have been a true partner."

The original phase of the software took a little over six months to develop and implement. There have been two significant upgrades since. Future plans call for enhancements that will make the process even more electronic and less manual, such as digital signatures and document filing.

All this horsepower has resulted in some very tangible results. "One benefit we saw immediately," says Mr. Nason, "had to do with rate of exchange issues." Overpayments were common, due to the many foreign currencies in which invoices are submitted to RCCL, combined with delays caused by receiving invoices manually, and daily fluctuations in exchange rates to U.S. dollars. While the company hasn't finished its analysis yet, Mr. Nason calculated $150,000 in savings over a four month period with one vendor alone. RCCL has also been able to identify and correct inconsistent fees among its brands, and has enjoyed significant cash flow benefits due to quicker payments resulting in lower pre-funding costs.

The application has also helped Dustin Nason increase overall productivity. As he says, "What I love most about IMS is that it's allowing my department to transition from being reactive and just shifting paperwork, to being proactive by analyzing and negotiating charges, reducing costs, and yielding greater savings to the company. We can finally be more strategic."

Marine Software Solutions, the developer of Invoice Management System, is headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. As the marine division of Brenock Technology, they provide many products designed to meet specific needs within the marine industry, such as certificate management and compliance, project management, personnel management, logistics, procurement, invoice management, and much more. They can be contacted toll free at (800) 496-7066, or online at www.msslighthouse.com or www.brenocktechnology.com.

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