News Article 16/02/2011

“Ulysses Systems Invests On Research & Development Projects To Respond Market Demands”

ELNAVI, February 2011, P.28-30

Taking advantage of the extensive research and development project in risk management Ulysses Systems has achieved to be one of the most recognized software developers in the maritime industry.

As Mr Panteleimon Pantelis, Services Director of Ulysses Systems notes “ We have been selling software by the brand name Ulysses Task Assistant® in the Greek shipping market and worldwide for 14 years. Initially, a software platform was provided for automating the ship management processes and linking them with company manuals addressing the need for regulatory compliance with the then new International Safety Management (ISM) Code. This initial response to Quality Assurance demanded by the market was followed by the suite of Task Assistant® solutions to ship operations including Planned Maintenance, Purchasing and Crewing addressing the need for regular, Planned Maintenance, Purchasing and Crewing delivery to the right person at the right time.
Today with common sense returning to management systems we feel it is time to introduce the results of our 14 year research and development project in Risk Management Software development like any other design issue needs to mature slowly while in practical use. The concept of lightning speed development is wrong in any industry no less in software; for example, an hydrogen burning, environmentally-friendly car has no value if it can’t start off in the cold So our research has developed separately from our products and our products have progressively benefitted from mature research developments acting in response to market demands”

Commenting on the role of IT manger Mr. Pantelis points out “Ship managers’ caution is supported by the gradual realisation of how unimportant pure technology is for maritime software; the truth of this will clear up the confusion about software selection as it did for technical decisions many years ago. As ship-owners and managers realise that software needs to be selected on management principles, the decision will move back to senior managers assisted by their IT managers. Our view is that maritime IT managers will become more experienced in ship management making the decision making process much more straight forward and reliable than it is currently. IT experts will therefore become even more important in ship management but they will be clarifying the decision to be made by the business managers, in contrast to the past when they had to provide basic IT education to a reluctant audience. IT and IS managers in maritime industry and many other industries will be seen as productivity experts. This will mesh well with the soon to be realised understanding by marine managers that they are the experts in prioritising which productivity problem to solve first with the IT and IS experts giving them advice on what has proven to work”

Regarding correlation of satellite communications and development of maritime software Mr. Pantelis says that “As satellite communications improve it is easier to service on board software. However the complexity of maritime software is that you still need a separate database on each ship otherwise the interaction time and connection reliability is a problem”.

Mr. Pantelis also refers to Risk Assesment tools developed by Ulysses in order to assist shipping companies in taking right decisions.
“Risk assessment is a primary focus in Ulysses; this is attested by a very large number of features related to risk assessment and by the fact that it is at the root of our Research and Development. Risk Assessment is essentially the practice of relating a problem or potential problem with the entire knock on effect it can have and making sure it is brought to the attention of the stakeholders in a timely manner. The way people handle risk is the essence of management quality and a test for any system. Thanks to Ulysses Task Orientation, rich indexing of undesired events is gathered as a by-product of problem resolution. Thus the system provides decision support by timely information that finds the user: no searches and no time-consuming questionnaires to fill-out, just common sense. This makes it very easy to string together the actions following a need for a decision and to monitor internally how decisions regarding risk are made, thereby allowing the company to progressively monitor and improve their own decision making processes”.

Mr. Pantelis explains the features and advantages of Task Assistant.
“Ulysses Task Assistant® offers an integrated management system comprised of a full suite of shipping solutions (or modules) integrated into one platform. All along the goal has been to provide a management system designed by shipping people for shipping people where user convenience is the key. This has resulted in the Ulysses’ innovation of task-based management solutions built around the actual tasks and business of operating ships. Ulysses task orientated system architecture matches its navigational layout to the way each seaman and his manager think through a process.

Task Assistant® separates what the user needs now from what the user needs later, while bringing together information from different sources. The user finds information indexed against his current activity with fine precision. There is no need to search for the next step and further details or choose between a large number of navigation options. Without the user initiating a search or rummaging through options, it will do the job of digging into the entire system to find what is relevant for this task, this voyage, this port, this cargo, this pump or any other area of focus characteristic to the marine business.

The full suite of Ulysses Systems Task Assistant® Shipping Solutions comprises of Planned Maintenance, Purchasing and Crewing and Document Management for Safety & Quality and Operations.

Additionally Task Assistant® Reporting Module (TARM) is fully integrated with the Task Assistant® Platform database. This module facilitates the collection of information and data from different business units submitted via the integrated platform products and/or 3rd party products. For example data submitted by the vessel or the office via our Shipping Solutions (Document Management, Planned Maintenance, Purchasing and Crewing) or third party products can be extracted by TARM, collated and stored in order to produce reports assisting in Accident and Incident Analysis, Undesired Events Statistics, Regulatory and Company KPI’s etc”.

Another major area is business process management and operational efficiency in shipping. Mr. Pantelis describes Ulysses involvement in this critical issue.
“Business Process Management is a technical term for systems that can be made to introduce new processes work on top of older applications. Ulysses TA Platform Management System pre–dates these systems and uses flexible workflow and process depiction tools to emulate new processes. Clients have been using this for 14 years. The built-in enterprise model within the Task Assistant® accurately profiles the shipping industry in its working environment and thus makes newly introduced processes an integral part of the existing processes covered by the system. Unlike conventional Business Process Management systems, the user is not obliged to figure out where new workflows fit into the existing functionality of the system and can immediately participate in process improvement. For example, we have clients who have introduced 80 or more new processes electronically at one time with no confusion or inconvenience at all to the on-board users. This increases the performance of users in every aspect of information handling and saves multi tasking employees valuable time, which has proved to be by far the most draining in software lifecycle costs, while offering ever increasing process control”.

Finally, Mr. Pantelis disclosures the company’s future plans

“The next generation of software and our focus at Ulysses will be the layer between the user and the underlying application. As more and more senior managers use software, as they are beginning to do with the iPhone and iPad and similar personal productivity concepts, the need for a more user friendly layer for people that really don’t have the interest to learn to use an application will become so widespread as to become a new sector in the industry. To our fourteen years in Research and Development anticipating this trend will succeed the next equal period applying that know-how to shipping.

Ulysses Systems Profile

Since 1996 Ulysses Systems has provided management solutions to ship-owners and ship managers. Its award winning software, Task Assistant® enables both office and seagoing personnel to work more efficiently and effectively. Task Assistant® is intuitive software designed to require minimal training.

Managers should expect savings in the order of $90,000 per vessel per year purely from minimizing information gaps.
Ulysses has offices in the Piraeus, Mumbai, and Singapore