News Article 24/02/2005 A

Greece Maritime Software (Digital Ship- January/February 2005 p.12)

24/02/2005 - Digital Ship- January/February 2005 p.12

Dimitris Lyras, special advisor to Ulysses Systems, reviewed the decision-making processes, which ship owners go through when deciding whether to install software systems.

"If you are going to take a software decision you have to analyze the gains you're going to make from it. You have to know what process you're trying to improve before you start," he said.

"The decision to install software is the biggest of all - you need an IT department, servers and hardware."

"OCIMF is pushing you to install a planned maintenance system. That is a compelling reason to use

The principal gains shipping companies can have from installing a software system are that information can easily be shared across different departments in the company.

Mr. Lyras stressed that decisions to use software in shipping are very different from decisions to use software in other businesses, such as manufacturing; in manufacturing, the software drives the processes themselves. In shipping, the software helps the processes, which are already there.

"If you want a superintendent to get involved you've got to consider he's a risk manager and opportunity manager, he''s managing resources in a very complex way," said Mr. Lyras.

"Superintendents don''t give much credence - to software - they don't believe it's going to change their day. If they''re going to use the system - it had better be up to speed for them."

Mr. Lyras said that shipping companies should try to estimate the return on investment they can get on software, which will then help them determine an appropriate budget to spend on it, and which areas of functionality they need the most.

To date, e-mail systems have proved extremely useful to shipping companies, to the point where few of them maintain paper records of correspondence any more, as they did in the days of telex and fax.
One area where software has not proved particularly helpful is in making performance reports of equipment, he said.

Mr. Lyras stressed the importance of having a software system which enables people to work together, which is hard if the same person is using different software modules for different tasks and needs to carry data from one module to another. "The thing is to have data that''s real and true," he said.

The total costs of software ownership include the money you pay people to use it (usage costs), software license fees, cost of data, software deployment costs, training costs and software maintenance.

"Usage costs are the most costly," he said. "Watch how long it takes someone to use the software."

Mr. Lyras said that purchasing the software based on its functionality is like choosing a shipyard based on the specifications of the ship. Obviously the functionality is important but there are many other important factors, such as the quality of the organization putting the software together.

"You have to choose on the reputation of the software house," he said.