Update Dec 2005

The cost of change management for TMSA. Is it primarily a training problem?

Cost of addressing TMSA
It is beginning to be widely accepted that there will be a significant cost to justifying the good practices of in house management in accordance with TMSA stipulations.

Figures of $50,000 to $70,000 per vessel have been discussed. This is seen as a high price to pay for those who have continuously been trying their utmost to provide an economic and demonstrably responsible service.

Changing perceptions from due diligence in one area to due diligence in another.
Those of us, who have done their best over the years, feel the most concerned about the prescriptive stipulations, which can be seen to overlook the vast efforts to make ships economical to run. Since the mid-seventies economy was the item that occupied the focus of fleet managers. It is difficult to reprogram an entire generation to forget what they spent their working life learning, in a never-ending uphill battle against rising costs through legislation etc.

It has also been widely discussed that the money spent in addressing TMSA will be partly spent on a cultural change.

By cultural change what the industry really means is realignment of priorities.

Instead of a fleet manager spending sleepless nights deciding between expense items so as to adhere to a budget, or approving an overhaul at a risky anchorage before the weather changes, the emphasis is now on transparency of managerial practices to demonstrate continuous risk mitigation. So which particular cost pressure can we relieve to allow for the extra preoccupation with TMSA items? Items like transparency, expensive overlap of personnel, time consuming hiring processes that only solve the easy problems etc? The likelihood is that companies will want to embrace economy as well as demonstrate best practices; No one wants to allow a cost conscious enterprise to lose its discipline while in most cases it is too difficult to value all the alternatives accurately and decide what area of focus to drop. What' s more there are competitors around the corner making sure that there is no item that can easily be dropped.

Training and Management of change.
Training and retraining are no doubt big parts of the TSMA budget. Risk management training is practically compulsory, while the required cultural change from time revered cost control to demonstrating competence is optional, but who can really avoid it?

Deciding on what to change.
But training comes after deciding how to reallocate attention and resources, and this step is the most challenging. One solution is to let each expert in their own field let you know where he or she sees a waste of resources that can be replaced by a better use of resources. It is a common practice of management consultants, when brought in to report on what can be improved in a company, to simply ask the staff. These experts then qualify the information they get by discounting any natural bias and present the report to management. This saves some years of internal strife as one department competes with another department to justify its working practices to avoid making painful changes. The truth is that the need for change is not an exercise in blame, it is an exercise in adjustment to a different set of priorities, a different environment entirely.

How Ulysses can help save significant effort in making new policy effective?
As a service provider to the marine industry, at Ulysses we also have our bias and carry our own share of hard earned experiences that make us less adaptable than we should be. But given some judicious qualification by our clients of the guidance we provide to them, we can also be of use in areas that constitute our core competence.

Ulysses core competence is in making software intuitive and easy to use and focussing on the priorities needed to make software work on ships.

What core feature helps achieve adoption of new policy?
At the core of this is Task Orientation, a type of software architecture unique to Ulysses that indexes every business object in accordance with how it will be used by each and every user in the enterprise. Every instruction, every item of software functionality, every alert item, every response to an alert, is indexed and appropriately modified for its use at every user/system interaction point which is also a corporate process node. By contrast in any other indexing convention within a software system the user must guess the implied end use of each object since the only explicit indexing is through the navigational labelling of the application. This is a weakness as it makes it practically impossible to tell the difference between information relevant to different stages of an operation to the task at hand.
Like having three versions of tank entry instructions relevant to different circumstantial risk, without explicit relationship to the exact role, event and context in which each one is relevant, or having three different defects’ notification processes, none of which is explicitly indexed to the circumstances (e.g. criticality of parent machinery item) or to the role and seniority of the person making the defects report.

The roadmap for change management.
In the current emphasis on training and familiarisation Ulysses can shortcut one of the longest and least rewarding training exercises in any business; That of figuring out how someone else has laid out the information that you need to use immediately; in other words, the eternal question: "How does this apply to me and what can I drop in order to take on more" Unless the staff can see clearly where they are going with respect to change, there will be confusion and much harder work than is necessary in order to adapt.

When you take up your crew''s vacation time and also pay for it, you want to get the most value for this expense and for the disruption, which results from their absence. When you want your master and chief engineer to adhere to a new circular or safety bulletin (which may have been issued during their leave), or make a new risk assessment, you want them to be aware of the information when it is about to be incorporated in their actions. Reading manuals will not guarantee memorisation because manuals simply are too large to memorise and the messages too similar in content to stick in anyone''s mind.

But manuals and documents are one of the principal means we use to administer change in the shipping environment, besides taking people out of the line of duty for training.

At Ulysses we specialise in making accurately differentiated information in software applications manuals and documents instantly available for the task at hand, regardless of how experienced your staff has become with the contents or layout of your documentation or software applications.
For example a change in policy on a critical spares quantity is inextricably related to the process of ordering spares and should be viewed at the time of taking action. A change in policy in matching of crew credentials to vessels is inextricably connected to the process of placing new crew members on board. A change in policy to comply with new voyage risk evaluation processes is inextricably related to planning of the new voyage. With Ulysses, new information finds the user at the time the user is ready to act upon it.

To change the shipping industry's venerable emphasis from cost control to demonstrating competence, those who make things happen in shipping, i.e. the crews and office administration of the world' s shipping companies, will require some face to face discussion, from agreeing what changes are taking place in the business environment to taking action to address the changes. Ulysses does not pretend to make this easier. However once a decision is made, turning this decision into practice where it involves co-ordination through information management is the core competence of Ulysses.

Like a road system Ulysses directs and delivers information in accordance with the client''s chosen way. The cost is only in turning the decision into a software configuration using a toolset provided by Ulysses so that authorised client side-users can accomplish each new configuration themselves.

Ulysses offers a complete advisory service of how to configure your company''s "road system for information" and can demonstrate tangible savings in benchmarking tests, so that each step of the effort made to set up the "road system" is accompanied by appropriate proof of value.

Appendix 1 illustrates the saving in familiarisation time with SMS manuals that can be achieved by configuring Ulysses software to comply with your company''s management system.

In the final analysis success with TMSA means high scores without wasting your time.


Ulysses Systems executed a Training and Familiarisation Benchmarking test which proved that when a company uses a well-designed system like the Task Assistant, it can minimise the training expenses of a new crewmember by 29% -53%, while also achieving up to 42% more familiarity with the SMS System.

The Given Scenario was: A Master was recently signed on the vessel that was new in the company.

The ship is about to arrive at Port shortly and the master has to prepare for bunkering. However, before arrival the Ch. Engineer and the Ch. Officer inform him that they would also need to execute some urgent hot work in the Engine Room and the Deck respectively for loose material securing in the funnel area. They also need to be prepared for customary inspection on board, so the Ch. Engineer who is also the Safety Officer onboard, proposes to have a Safety Committee Meeting.

Procedure 1- Hot work
Procedure 2- Ship Safety Meetings
Procedure 3- Bunkering operation

Conclusions: The results also showed that:

The conventional ways of training do not ensure memorization or familiarity with the company''s manuals or procedures.
It is therefore follows that the trainees who lack familiarity when a change of the safety management system is taking place need to repeat the training on board.

Manuals that are more detailed will lead to longer period of training either ashore or on board.

Conventional ways of training even with detailed manuals do not ensure that the trainees will successfully identify interrelation between procedures if they are not linked to tasks. Therefore this does not ensure prioritization at the point of decision making.