The five-strong team of the Royal Ocean Racing Club Rating Office is based in Lymington, Hampshire.
The organisation provides owners who wish to race their boat with a ‘rating’, so they can race fairly with boats of different designs. A rating is a time-corrector reflecting the potential speed of the boat, based on the measurements of the boat, rig and sails, and takes no account of crew ability or previous race results.
To get a rating certificate the boat owner needs to apply for an International Rating Certificate (IRC).
This involves the completion of an application form with the dimensions and features of the boat and the information required is complex.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE MYIRC SYSTEM
In 1984 when IRC was first created, the application forms were all paper-based and hand-written. From start to finish, it took several days, if not weeks in busy periods, for the paperwork to be processed and the certificate delivered. All manual processes come with a risk of human error, too.
Later improvements meant that card payments could be taken instead of cheques, and a complex spreadsheet style application form, which could be returned via email, replaced the paper application. This was set up to import the data directly into the rating software and although this was a big step forward, the spreadsheet was daunting for the customer and it had minimal impact on reducing the basic administrative time of taking payments and saving documents.
In 2008, the decision was made to streamline the process by taking payments online, although the owner still had to attach the spreadsheet application. It was at this point that the team at RORC Rating Office met the founder of Workhorse, Alastair Badman.
“Our business is unique and complex, but Workhorse very quickly understood our requirements. They came up with some excellent ideas to simplify some of the processes.”
Jenny Howells, RORC Technical Manager
MYIRC GOES ENTIRELY ON-LINE
With increasing application questions, complexity and also experiencing problems with spreadsheet compatibility and format corruption, the decision was made to streamline the process by bringing it completely on-line, making the MyIRC application and administration much more efficient and more user-friendly.
The first things to go on-line were the application forms which are accessed through a dedicated MyIRC website where boat owners can create an account. Renewal of a previous rating certificate is quick and simple, and for a new application the owner can save data and return to complete it later. It also offers the purchase of sail (registration) numbers, with owners being able to search the database of available numbers.
In the original version, once the application had been completed, the office was alerted via an email with the application attached as a csv file. This then had to be manually saved into the back-office filing system and added to the list of pending jobs.
In the latest version that went live in 2016, the csv file automatically saves into the boat’s file and the application is added to an integral job list in the back-end of MyIRC. The office then logs into the job list and each application is allocated to the appropriate member of the Rating Office team.
“This latest functionality assigns the data automatically to the boat’s file on our server. It’s one more task that has disappeared, freeing up our time so we can focus directly on providing a high level of customer service”. Jenny Howells
IMPROVED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The website that customers now use to create an account, apply for, update or amend their certification has a modern feel and is easy to use.
“The more that our customers can ‘self-serve’ the better the service we can provide. We have more time to give if they do call us with a query.”
“It’s also made our jobs much more interesting! Especially when I think back to how much time we used to spend on repetitive, mundane admin tasks. Now we have time to spend on producing the certificates, answering queries and thinking about future improvements, focusing on our customers and the business”.
WHAT NEXT FOR MYIRC?
To date, MyIRC has only been available to UK boat owners, but the latest developments will allow it to be rolled out globally to all other counties that offer racing under IRC rules. This involves the added complexity of applications going through a local agent and management of the application fees.
When an application is made from an international boat owner, the system recognises the IP address and sends the information to the relevant overseas agent for checking. When the agent is satisfied that the application is in order, it is sent to the Lymington office for processing.
“Bringing the international processing into our system has required careful planning. Workhorse has come up with creative solutions to our requests and is always quick to respond to our questions.”