Implementation ERP software package IFS at URS

In 2012, the ERP software package IFS was implemented at Smit in Rotterdam. The first roll-out of the package followed six months later. This happened at URS, Smit's towage branch in Antwerp. Where at that time an improvement was made in the processes and the organization. This particularly affected the Finance, Purchasing and Commerce departments. The implementation of the package was a precondition for the improvement, because it provided more process control, better integration of the various departments, and better information provision. In short, more insight into the performance of the company and an important basis for possible further optimization. A complicating factor during the project was the takeover of Smit by Boskalis. This resulted in many new requirements and demanded a lot of time and energy from the employees.

"Belgian pragmatics"

Tony:  “I have a lot of good memories of this Antwerp project. And I'm not talking about the daily sandwich at 'Knabbel en Babbel', the sandwich shop around the corner. It was the atmosphere, the appreciation I got and the feeling of belonging. Be part of the company. Even though I was a Dutchman, and the E19 was often unwilling to let me through.

The assignment was actually very simple: roll out the implementation template for IFS developed by Smit at URS in Belgium. It's a matter of a fit-gap analysis, tweeting things, educating people, testing and going live. How hard can it be?

It soon became apparent that things weren't going to work out that way. Processes were missing in the template; the commercial part of the application proved to be insufficiently flexible, and during the project Smit was taken over by Boskalis. And yet it worked out. We eventually completed the assignment within time and budget. To the complete satisfaction of the customer. And also thanks to the customer. There was a lot of support from the management, who took a very pragmatic attitude. Let's face it: how nice is it if you can put forward an 'issue of the week' during the weekly project meeting, about which a decision is made on the spot?

Looking back, the most important success factor was one of our own core values: find and use the strength of our own employees, and take them with you from the start. After all, they are their processes, and it will be their supporting system. The extra time you may have to put into that in the beginning will pay off later on. Keep your goal in mind, and don't give in too quickly if you don't have the time, capacity or will. Be creative, keep looking for possibilities. And most importantly, don't give up!"

Tony Verschoor


URS stands for the Union of Rescue and Towage Services. The company was founded in 1870 and at the time of the takeover by Smit in 2008, the leading Towage and Salvage company for the Belgian and Dutch ports along the Scheldt. After the takeover by Boskalis in 2010, the Towage division continued under the name Smit Towage. Since 2016, Smit Towage has been part of the Joint Venture Kotug Smit Towage.

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