Update Dec 2003

Software that works on ships dealing with ISPS

Do we really expect officers on board to go through searches and retrievals for all these items of information?

How reliably will this happen when the master has to make sure a new officer becomes familiar with this information?

What happens when there is a reason to be preoccupied with a non-routine but not unexpected issue like a crew health problem or a port state inspection?


Performing the Task "PREPARE FOR VOYAGE" in Shipping in 1998 needed:

  • Telex, e-mail and faxes (outgoing)
  • Standing Instructions
  • Charterer''''s Instructions
  • Voyage Instructions
  • External Manuals
  • ISM Manuals
  • Crew Change
  • ISM Checklists
  • Historic Data e.g. Port Warning, Passage Warning, Voyage Risk Notes
  • Crew Change
  • Telex, e-mail and faxes (incoming)

Performing the same Task "PREPARE FOR VOYAGE" in Shipping in 2004 needs

  • Telex, e-mail and faxes (outgoing)
  • Standing Instructions
  • Charterer's Instructions
  • Voyage Instructions
  • External Manuals
  • ISM Manuals
  • Crew Change
  • Security Checks
  • Voyage Risk Management
  • Manual Security Code Manuals
  • ISO 9000/14000 Manuals
  • ISM Checklists
  • ISO 9000/14000 Checklists
  • ISPS Checklists
  • Voyage Risk Management Checklist
  • Crew Change
  • Telex, e-mail and faxes (incoming)
  • Historic Data e.g. Port Warning, Passage Warning, Voyage Risk Notes

Since 1998 and with the implementation of the new regulations such as ISO 9000/14000 and ISPS Code, the amount of workload for the people on board and ashore (almost 35 multi tasking roles in total) increased analogically as follows:

  • The tasks from 1200 to 1450
  • The manual paragraphs from 2000 to 3150
  • The form types from 170 to 210

Similar input and output of information occurs over many tasks.

What is the effect for a ship management company of inefficient handling of reference information and verification information for ISM and ISPS?

  • Non-conformities may be higher than necessary resulting in difficulty in demonstrating discipline and good practices to principals.
  • Difficulties in responding to changes in the fleet: If fleet size increases there is a dire need to be cost efficient in familiarising the increased crew pool with vital managerial practices.
  • Uniform management systems across a large fleet reduce the cost of managing the fleet: There is a high cost to supervise and remind people who may otherwise be operating differently from others especially when new blocks of managerial awareness are introduced. The cost is even higher when supervision and reminders fail. The effect is most pronounced when merging people and business units.

Ulysses has gained a number of prominent shipmanagement clients by being realistic in providing enterprise software that works on ships, in all the important and relevant respects that can make software a success.


Choosing software: Can it ever be made simple?
Software choice can be simple if properly rationalized.

Like choosing which shipyard to build a ship, it can also be made unnecessarily complicated by deciding between shipyards on drawing-by-drawing and component-by-component comparison.

The better ship from the better shipyard has a reputation for long term cost efficiency and commercial efficiency.

Below is our opinion of the real bottom line criteria when buying software, especially where on board users are a critical component:

  • Do an assortment of independent companies who use the system say that it is used extensively and can they show you evidence?
  • Do they succeed in obtaining the control and compliance they seek?
  • Do your on board officers like the software your are planning on acquiring, and do they see the benefits?
  • Do the on board officers in other companies, that have used the software for some time, like it and see the benefits?
  • Do companies that use the system say that it has a low total cost of upkeep, including training, configuration, and software maintenance?

Of course, occasionally some of this line of questioning is not totally reliable. That is when there is an insufficient number of existing clients and the few that exist are going through some organizational restructuring during the first period of software deployment.

This seems to be the only exception to the qualification process given above. Similarly judging the quality of a shipyard on the basis of the condition of one trading vessel, operated by a company under reorganization, is insufficient.

Once the main criteria for choice and verification between software systems is covered, then as in shipbuilding, feature-by-feature scrutiny is timely and necessary. However without first ascertaining the relevant goals the feature-by-feature scrutiny is premature, and cause confusion.

Above all software solutions used to overcome the complexity of our times must not add to the complexity.

In closing a few words form a recent customer:

NYK Shipmanagement: Mr Aswin K. Atre, Managing Director and Chief Operations Officer said: "Shipmanagers now face the challenge of managing an ever-increasing safety, quality and management compliance workload. NYK Shipmanagement sought a solution to deal with these requirements. After evaluating various systems available, NYK elected to use Ulysses Systems'''' Task Assistant to handle its document management and compliance requirements. Task Assistant makes life easier and more efficient, reducing our bottom line costs as well relieving our staff of repetitive filing tasks enabling them to focus on what they do best running our ships. In a world that demands transparency it is important that managers are able to prove that they are doing the right things and this can only be done effectively by installing proper systems. Ulysses helps us do this both as a by-product of transparent and organised information flow and allows us to build a foundation of knowledge management."

NYK Shipmanagement experience so far with Task Assistant: Task Assistant has the unique ability to absorb new information and ensure effective distribution of that information to those that need it, when they need it. Further to this rapid and easy deployment with minimal disruption and familiarisation requirements is an additional vital part of the design. For software to work successfully on ships it must be extremely intuitive to use and to initially configure. Task Assistant is proving to be a vital tool in providing ever-higher standards of compliance and customer satisfaction.