When Stödig Ship Management wanted to reduce labour-intensive administrative operations through OCS HR, it found that Mintra was a partner willing to take on board their requirements. The result has been the creation of two new modules which have not only streamlined processes for Stödig but many other global shipping companies too.
Buying an off-the-shelf software solution has its benefits. It’s often more cost-effective; it’s usually quicker to implement; and it can often provide more functionality than is required.
But the downside is that once you install it, it’s pretty inflexible. It cannot grow and change with your business requirements; there’s no way to alter what it does or manipulate its core functions; and any updates or improvements are in the hands of the manufacturer.
When Bergen-based Stödig Ship Management started using OCS HR for its crew management needs back in 2007, it may have considered the software in a similar bracket to an off-the-shelf solution: OCS HR was used by dozens of maritime customers to manage crews and competencies, but a component-based design meant that a variety of standard modules could be added as required.
However, what Stödig actually received was a genuine and trusted partner – an organisation that listened to their needs and challenges and worked together with them to develop new OCS HR functionality to benefit the entire industry.
Stödig, which operates a managed fleet in short sea trades, has partnered with Mintra to help create two separate modules for OCS HR – Travel Management and Recruitment. Erik Mohn, head of crewing, HR shore, staff and support at Stödig, explained that Mintra helped formulate the company’s concepts and developed them into solutions used by the wider maritime industry.
When initially launched, OCS HR was focused on the Norwegian sector where many operators are required to offer permanent employment contracts to personnel. That is different to the picture internationally, where personnel can be offered short-term contracts on a trip-by-trip basis.
As a global operator with international seafarers, Stödig used the latter approach. However, every time a contract was issued – and even if the seafarer had worked with Stödig previously - new paperwork such as certificates of competencies, personal information and passports, needed to be uploaded into a database.
Mr Mohn said: “This resulted in a significant amount of administration – paperwork and competency checking - all just for one person going to sea and it had to be done every time there was a crew change.
“That workload was immensely labour intensive for our junior case handlers. We wanted to develop a solution where we could pick an employee from the database, push a button and have all of the relevant information transferred across. We could have developed this solution in-house, but we wanted a module that would allow us to link it to OCS HR.
“We spoke to Mintra about this functionality and the result was the Crew Deployment module, which now is part of the Travel Management module. Some of it is based on our ideas and some of it is functionality that we did not consider, so it has been a really successful partnership. We are very happy with the outcome.
“It has made a huge difference to us. The intensity of paperwork and the number of checks that are now required just to get a seafarer on board is so much more than it was 15 years ago. Yet, thanks to this module, we have been able to meet the challenges of these increased demands with the same number of staff that we had before.
“If we had kept doing things the way we were doing them, given the rate at which the company has expanded, we would have required double the number of junior case handlers that we had.”
The success of the partnership led Mr Mohn back to Mintra’s OCS HR team when Stödig wanted to implement a new solution to help automate the recruitment of seafarers. This process, he said, also involved a heavy administrative burden in checking whether candidates had all the necessary paperwork and certificates to gain employment.
All the information about candidates would be held on email or on paper files but with changes coming in the form of GDPR legislation, the company wanted to ensure a more robust system for data privacy. Once again, Mr Mohn saw an opportunity to add to the functionality within OCS HR and approached Mintra with Stödig’s idea.
“We wanted to be able to move it to the cloud where we could collect data in a structured way. There were other systems that we could have used, but if we wanted to hire someone that would involve a cumbersome process of taking the data from that system and re-entering it on OCS HR,” he said.
“We were able to work with Mintra to develop the Recruitment module so that we could collect all the CVs, competence certification and other evidence in one place and then, if we wanted to hire a person, we could simply push a button and their data would transfer into OCS HR. The process for one person now takes 20 seconds instead of four hours.
“It also allows us to make our recruitment process more efficient. If we need crew, instead of scrolling through emails and spreadsheets looking for someone who might be suitable for a position, we now have all the information available in one central place.
“We first became a customer back in 2007 and I think the reason we have remained a customer for so long is that we have a good relationship with the developers. Mintra has excellent developers who are always willing to listen to what we need and work with us to create solutions, and a very dedicated team of consultants who give us the training on how to use the systems.”
Jan Ove Kalhagen, sales team leader for UK and Norway, said the relationship with Stödig was typical of the partnerships that Mintra wants to cultivate. He added: “Our heritage in maritime spans back more than 30 years and in that time we have accumulated a huge amount of maritime-specific knowledge about the challenges faced by operators in their day-to-day activities.
“We pride ourselves on creating best-in-class products that address those challenges. In working directly with the industry in building solutions, Mintra has earned a reputation as a trusted partner willing to listen and help improve things for the sector as a whole.”
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