Ahead of the 30th of April grant application deadline, we spoke to Lisa Brazier, Programme Director to learn more about the TALE (Transport and Logistical Efficiencies) programme, and how it’s helping businesses in the logistics sector and beyond.
What’s the background to the TALE project?
Logistics is a key sector for the Haven Gateway Partnership, and supporting economic growth and SMEs has always been an important part of what we’ve done. Our previous ERDF project, Low Carbon Freight Dividend, looked at reducing carbon emissions by switching container movements from road to rail or coastal shipping. After that project, we wanted to continue to support the sector. So we looked at the sector research with Essex University, who have data as a specialism.
The University’s Institute for Analytics and Data Science recognised an opportunity to help the logistics sector, and businesses from other sectors that have a significant logistics provision, to become more efficient and more competitive. So TALE is about helping businesses unlock their data and then understanding it. Once you can collect it effectively, you can start to look at it and see what it tells you.
How does TALE help businesses?
Businesses have a lot of data but they don’t necessarily use it. So, therefore can’t identify how they could become more productive and efficient. What we’re aiming to do, through grants and support, is to help them try and do things slightly differently to improve and grow their business.
One of the things we’ve been able to do with the grants is to help businesses put new software in place, so they can switch from paper or Excel-based systems to something that is designed specifically to do the job in hand – rather than just making things ‘work’. Businesses find these solutions save quite a lot of staff time usually taken up with manual processes and repetitive behaviour. They also reduce the amount of mistakes being made through human error when inputting. Staff can then use the data created by the system to focus on business development rather than spending a lot of time doing admin. So it’s about making the best of their workforce.
In addition to the grants for new software, the support we’ve offered e.g. our Microsoft 365 online workshops, has really made people think about all the hidden gems in their existing software. There’s lots of different things in there that can make you more effective as a team.
During the pandemic we’ve been able to shift our focus slightly so we could help businesses become more resilient, more flexible and easily work from home. So we’ve been able to give grants and support for that. The businesses that have received grants or expert advice have been really pleased to get the support, and have been happy to share what they’ve been able to achieve with it through case studies.
What’s next for the TALE programme?
Obviously the grant application deadline is coming up on the 30th of April, but our online coaching programme will be running until the Summer. Beyond that I think the legacy of the project is that we’ve enabled businesses to continue to be more productive and do things differently, and set them up to react better to change.