Update May 2005

Addressing TMSA Efficiently


This is a short discussion on what Ulysses can best do for you to help address TMSA effectively, cost efficiently, and as far as possible without unnecessarily occupying the attention of your valuable colleagues:

In further studying TMSA it seems to add new emphasis to some prescriptive requirements already seen in ISM, ISO and other best practice guidelines.

We also mention here a few general items that seem to be highlighted repeatedly throughout TMSA and which seem to be over and above ISM requirements. In addition we have included some references to the content within the TMSA guidelines. The references are not comprehensive and of course textual interpretation can be different, so time will show what requirements persist.

General TMSA items:

  1.  Easily understood instructions (1B 2) aimed at each individual end user (1B 3),(7A 2,4), (7B3)
  2. Collaborative design of procedures (1A 2) (1B1,3)
  3.  External measurement and benchmarking (1B 4),(12A),(12B)
  4. Considerably more procedures, recording and reporting including risks'''''''' management (4B),(9A 2,3,4.) and change management, (7A),(7B) etc.
  5. Implied need for increased co-ordination on new issues (1A2) (1B3,4) (12B 2.3.4.)
  6. Accurate and timely knowledge sharing and distribution (9A4),(9B4),(12B)
  7. Clear, demonstrable accountability for company processes (1A) (1B3)
  8. Stringent Planned Maintenance system capability and usage requirements (4A, 4B)

Ulysses'  observations on the above TMSA items:

  1. Easily understood instructions aimed at each individual end user (Procedures and content in general must be easily understood and in specific cases TMSA implies that they must be relevant to specific roles. Procedures and documents with respect to assignment of responsibilities and lines of authority have to be aimed at specific roles and changes in roles must be accompanied by reassignment of procedures and assignment of responsibility. Role based procedural dissemination introduces complexities which can best be resolved if there is a software system in place for disseminating the appropriate content to each role and preferably to each role task/combination.
  2. Collaborative development of procedures: This is tremendously hard to achieve simply with e-mails and attachments. It will take many times the effort that would be needed as compared to the use of the annotations facility on a shared, role filtered document management system.
  3. External measurement and benchmarking: This requires checking status with internal standards, setting targets for improving internal standards and comparing internal company standards with external standards. There are many areas to monitor for comparison. One popular area is to record internal non conformance and defects items and then compare these to external audits such as vetting, class, port state control, etc. Then there are requirements for tracking the resolution of these defects and non conformances. Other recommended practices are comparisons between vessels, benchmarking with vessels of other fleets etc. To be able to make comparisons with any criteria requires that reporting is regular, accurate and compatible. In other words, the users must find the forms they have to fill amongst a developing plethora of forms and checklists; the users must fill in the forms correctly and therefore the forms must be easy to understand; the forms must self-validate any inaccuracies; the forms must render the data in comparable format and in meaningful displays. All this puts a huge demand for an electronic forms'''''''' system that is designed ergonomically and proven in the maritime field.
  4. Considerably more procedures, recording and reporting including risk management and change management. The requirement of additional explicit description of procedures and verification methods is quite extensive in TMSA. More specifically risk management discussions and change management discussions must be documented where changes are being made or new risks being incurred. Furthermore a formal risk assessment is mentioned. Risks and changes occur with respect to changes in environment, manning, tasks, processes, components of a vessel etc. Determining communicating and resolving for example the operational risk of a defective boiler level control, or a defective engine room bilge level alarm, or an accommodation air conditioning plant, requires interrelated documentation between defects and related risks including officer and crew operation and watch keeping tasks which may be affected, as well as operation of related machinery. The documentary requirements in TMSA of interrelated reports such as defects, risk warnings for procedures, resolution and closeout, lessons learnt etc. are such that companies complying probably need quite an intense document management system. Such a system must be an intuitive tool that manages these interrelated processes as a by product of daily work not an additional reporting burden.
  5. Implied need for increased co-ordination on new process issues: For example, feedback systems are required for defects, near misses, incidents, non conformances, etc. Feedback systems require that a sufficient cross section of stakeholders view the undesirable events and relate them to contexts that could lead to similar undesirable events in other circumstances. This is particularly difficult to achieve without a shared document management system. To start with, the reports need to be monitored frequently by a number of people (so the reports must find the people when the people are ready to deal with the reports). It also has to be recognised that each viewer has a different use for the reports. For example for a senior technical role the reports must be connected to that role''''''''s considerations and discussions on root causes; they must be connected to remedial action plans for process managers; they must be connected to shared discussions on lessons learnt for technical analysts. And of course, the lessons learnt must also be available to the actual practitioners, and thus must be distributed to all the relevant people and posted against the appropriate procedure(s) or instances at which these lessons are relevant. Co-ordinating the above process is a real challenge if we are to avoid inefficient use of resources.
  6. Accurate and timely knowledge sharing and distribution: TMSA has clearly established the need for organizations to practically demonstrate transparency in the sharing of corporate knowledge such as "relevant" experience transfers and lessons learnt, not only internally but also with associated external industry agencies. Maintaining such exchanges could easily evolve into an overload of information that could actually dilute the benefits through incorrect or highly labour intensive targeting. This needs to be achieved consistently without undue interruption of process and in an economical manner. By associating all role-specific information directly to the unique task dissemination of the Task Assistant, Ulysses'''''''' TA is ideally suited to meet the stringent demands needed to comply with this requirement.
  7. Clear, demonstrable accountability for company processes: this can only be achieved and adequately managed by the proactive use of a process management framework that clearly establishes and illustrates the relationship between the user role and the activity undertaken in an auditable manner as part of the normal work process.
  8. Stringent Planned Maintenance system capability and system usage requirements: The requirements specified in TMSA explicitly stipulate the need for the operator to implement and efficiently operate an electronic Planned Maintenance and Inventory Management System. The need to record compliance with the schedule of maintenance and the need to maintain an up to date critical machinery inventory (including Main Engine, single boilers, steering gear, one generator, selected nav-aids, medicals, selected instruments, etc.) requires the system to be used effectively, otherwise all it will do is highlight non-compliance.

Ulysses'' Task Assistant software is different in that it has a proven track record of being:

  • Easy to deploy
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to modify by the client

As a leading supplier to new accounts for Planned Maintenance software, Ulysses offers similar functional features to other popular Planned Maintenance systems. However we have uniquely given emphasis on the above three priorities because from actual experience in the field and actual client feedback we have found that, 80% of software lifecycle costs and company preoccupation is expended in these 3 areas.


How can compliance with TMSA be facilitated by other documentation related services? This is experience we have accumulated in client deployments.Compliance with TMSA can be a large undertaking. Ulysses offers relevant services to facilitate compliance.

Ulysses has deployed software solutions to over 30 medium and large shipping companies with systems on over 600 of their vessels so far. We have found during these deployments in the document management part, that many new procedural requirements and form templates are hard to agree upon in the working environment while normal operations continue.

The real problem is that no one in the company has the time to arbitrate between differing opinions of stakeholders on so many detailed issues.

In our recent experience and especially during ISPS development, or during any occasion when many new procedures are being introduced in a finite space of time, we find that what is missing is a small in-house team of trained "documentation mediators/coordinators" who are tasked with finding out what each main stakeholder in the company considers important, and with generating a consensus. It is difficult for this to happen without such a coordination role, while achieving timely, focused, relevant and above all economic induction of the changes required to comply with the TMSA. Ulysses offers such a service through its well trained consultants although clients can definitely emulate such services and provide them in house. Ulysses aim is to solve the documentation problem using the best resources and methods.

After all, the proper adoption of the TMSA should lead to a "REDUCTION" in the overall risk and administrative effort for the Tanker operators and not add to the already significant compliance and procedural burden faced by the industry.