Article by Chris Clifford
EMBRACE THE DIGITAL WORLD
As yachts increase in size, so do the complications in running such a vessel. Technology is moving faster than ever before so let’s embrace it with some bespoke yacht management software
Within today’s fast paced life and with the increase in legal frameworks on board the yacht, there is the ever necessary requirement to digitise everyday activities and to develop robust Standard Operating Procedures
(SOPs) that crew can follow in real time. It is also becoming more and more important for land based management and even the owners to be able to have a broad overview of the yacht’s activities in both financial and safety and compliance matters.
Of course we are in the ‘digital world’ but one can’t just adapt a piece of software used to run a boutique hotel or even a commercial freighter, our industry demands unique products that are fit for purpose.
Controlling, harnessing and organising aspects of our everyday lives through an internet connection is becoming more and more widespread as each day passes. Whether it’s remote shopping and banking, or something as simple as adjusting the settings of your domestic heating while you’re still away. These are the kind of daily routines we are now very familiar with. The overriding objective being to make our lives that much easier and more efficient!
No matter how large or small the yacht is or whether the yacht is registered for commercial or private activities, there is an obvious need for some bespoke software onboard to make every crew member’s life a little easier so they can concentrate on making sure the owners and guests are enjoying themselves.
With this in mind, I asked some of the industry’s top providers some key questions about their products and solutions. I started with the all important question of what the crew are looking for as a solution onboard?
Felix Mendes, Head of Sales at IDEA Data Solutions says, “In short they typically want simplicity and an easy to use interface, that’s their main priority. I guess it is a fear of something new and too complicated to operate. Then they need to know it works, but will always ask about ‘personal’ support and back-up – this is vital for them.” Mendes concludes, “Finally they need to know the system will deliver exactly what they need. Although our system is incredibly advanced and scalable, we are careful not to over complicate things, we don’t want the users to be too overwhelmed.”
Total Superyacht’s vessel management software designed by veteran crew to meet the needs of every department on board as well as those of the DPA and fleet managers. Fully ISM, ISPS & MLC compliant, and approved for use by all major flag administrations, it boasts the most comprehensive compliance modules in the yachting industry. It’s the only truly paperless safety management system, and the emphasis on smart
workflow and clever data management saves crew and managers countless hours every month. The comprehensive Superyacht Operating Systems digital SOP add-on, packed with expert operating procedures as well as knowledge on everything from mixing exotic cocktails to cleaning teak decks, adds further tremendous value and will have your yacht professionally operating in record time. For more details visit email@example.com or visit www.totalsuperyacht.com
Yulia Froiman, CEO of Seazone concurs on simplicity, “In general we have identified three main values our clients need; simplicity, time saving and transparency. We base our products on these three pillars, but always keep an open mind as to extra wants and needs from our clients.”
David Clarke of Total Superyacht notes a more solutions focused requirement. “Our clients come to us looking for a modern system that provides a solution to all their compliance needs. Our inbuilt procedures and SOP content are very appealing to them because it reduces both their setup time and the overall time spent maintaining a highly professional and safe operation.” Clarke continues, “Of course they don’t want to be bewildered with an over complicated system, but ours isn’t anyway. We know the business and know what the crew wants. A great example is our automated digital workflows, because it provides huge time savings to all the departments.”
So now we understand that software and management systems are becoming a very real and necessary element of running a modern yacht. They need to be easy to use and the systems need to stream line crew activities. But who are these systems built for and who is asking for a digital solution?
Clarke answers, “We’re usually contacted by the captain, chief officer or management companies. The captains and chief officers are looking for an easy system to comply with regulations for their vessel. They want a quick and easy setup and inbuilt content.
SOPs are very important to the captains and senior officers.” Here again we note that an easy to use platform is essential and one with pre-build SOPs (that can of course be edited) are top of the requirement list. Clarke continues, “Yacht managers are looking for a compliance system to manage their fleet and have comprehensive compliance coverage, but pricing and ease of implementation are their top priorities.”
Mendes from IDEA Data Solutions splits this question into a few more segments. He says, “Because we have a number of dedicated modules, we have enquiries from the operational yachts out on the water and also from those looking for solutions within the new build or refit yards. However, each person has their own reasons, but everyone is looking to get more structure within their daily operational life.” He continues, “If we’re talking new build, then we talk to the owner’s representative and project managers. Ideally this happens at the start of the project.However, in reality, this is often at the later stages and they’re looking for support to populate the various systems before delivery – bringing everything in to a clear and cohesive database that gives all the necessary parties real time access to the fundamentals of the project. But sometimes there’s ‘no one shoe fits all’, there are big differences between production yachts and full custom, this is when we offer further assistance and bespoke database work.”
Seazone is a mobile-first yacht management and recruitment software with a mission to support a global network of yachting professionals. An end to end solution with comprehensive online tools, Seazone simplifies the daily workflow, increases team productivity. Coming from the yachting world, Seazone’s team is unique and truly understands their customers, focusing on simplicity and time saving as a priority. With accurate data collection, real time information and effective recruitment, Seazone can save up to 5%-10% of annual yacht expenses and 1-2 hours each day.
The subscription based modules consist of: expense tracking and reports, charter and fleet management, document organisation, recruitment and maintenance. Seazone is used for both large and small scale yacht management; used by charter companies and recruitment teams to help with growth and organisation but also by individual yachts, captains and family offices that wish to improve communication, data transfer and transparency towards yacht owners.
For more details visit www.seazone.app
Seazone’s CEO Yulia Froiman tell us about her client’s top priorities, “We have found that more and more captains want to show the owners full transparency and for them this relates to job security and trust. Along the same lines, management teams need to have accurate information in real time to relay to the owner. And owners, especially the younger breed entering the market, well, they want to know that their asset is managed in the best possible way.”
Reverting back to Mendes he mentions, “We’ve developed a number of options for management companies and these are once again about having everything in a central portal, everything available under one system in real time.” Echoing earlier comments he continues, “Building trust and having transparency with the owner is paramount and these systems bring just that.”
One interesting point and perhaps one we shouldn’t be surprised about Yulia explains, “Hardly any of the crew are sat behind a computer and we’ve found that 87% of our users manage everything from their phones. If it’s complicated – no one will use it.”
With the enormous amount of data these systems can control, we asked which is the most common department looking for a solution and help?
As yachts get larger so do the needs for the heads of departments to have a more ‘real time’ view of their designated zones. So for Total Superyacht it’s the bridge and interior, David Clarke tell us about their new Watchkeeps app, “The more crew a yacht has, the more logistically challenging it becomes to keep track of everything: who is on or off the yacht at a given time, who is rostered on watch, who’s on rotation, is it 2:2, 4:2 or 2:1 and there is the guests, who’s onboard or who is out on the water, the list goes on. It took some brainstorming, but our team understands the importance of yacht-specific solutions (and the frustration of not having one!). The challenge was to create a system that catered to every possible scenario while greatly reducing the time the purser or captain needed to devote to tracking.”
IDEA DATA SOLUTIONS
IDEA Data Solutions is a market leading yacht management software company. The complete, easy-to-use solutions have been developed to assist the efficient day-to-day management of yachts; minimising costs and streamlining tasks whilst safeguarding vessel assets, crew and passengers. What makes IDEA unique? Alongside many software integrations IDEA offers full custom software development. IDEA supports individual vessels up to entire fleets. Whether a cloud solution, on-board only or a combination is required, IDEA is able to fulfil any requests no matter how demanding.
IDEA has a reputation for offering outstanding personal technical support, delivered by real humans. They do not follow a one-size-fits-all approach to pricing products and services.
For more details visit www.idea-yacht.com
Talking about the use of mobiles again Clarke continues “Whether untangling the knot of leave tracking in the new age of rotation, having the watchkeeping schedule available on crew’s personal phones, or having an easy place to refer the captain to after a nap so he knows where all the guests are is vital, and this is where the Watchkeeper app fits in.”
Ease of use is still top of the wants and needs no matter which department is requesting support and as Yulia from Seazone explains, “Captains are our most important connection through the industry. The communication flow starts with them, then towards the management and to the owner. But, all of our conversations start with the basic question – Will the captain use it?”
Throughout the various areas on board, each head of department obviously has their own wants and needs and Mendes confirms most of their conversations start with the engineering department. He says, “Data management and data flow are vital for the engineers and being able to place all the required safety, compliance and engineering information into a collective and intuitive system is fundamental to the smooth running of the yacht. Importantly it’s scalable and can be configured to the yacht’s specific needs, it provides a comprehensive overview of the vessel to ensure nothing is overlooked.”
When new software – either as a whole new product for a new yacht or a new update/module is introduced to an existing vessel, there is an obvious need for training for the crew and/or management company, but just how is this handled, especially when the yachts and crew are not land based?
We’ve talked about how we need to keep things simple and not burden the crew with complicated systems otherwise it just won’t be used, so when it comes to implementation and training, just how do our data gurus go about this?
“The biggest value our product has is the minimal implementation process.” Seazone’s Yulia Froiman points out. “Literally anyone can use it, and it takes 15 minutes with the most stubborn captain to start using Seazone and log expenses directly from their phone. Then we arrange about a 30 minute one-on-one demo and they can maximise the full potential – manage multiple users, organise documents and templates, the yacht’s calendar, charters and APA, create budgets, download reports and utilise other tools. This simple set-up is crucial when there is crew turnover mid-season, or when a management company decides to implement Seazone to their full fleet in a matter of a week.”
DEEP BLUE SOFT
A fully integrated solution developed in collaboration with yachting specialists, with an install base of more than 180 yachts. Through intuitive modules and a user-friendly interface, DEEP Blue covers every single corner of the increasingly complex yacht operations. finance, human resources, planned maintenance, inventory, ISM, charter, crew and yacht documents can be fully controlled with few clicks in a single platform. DEEP Blue provides a unique secured synchronisation technology between onboard and a master
server ashore, enabling fluid and efficient ship to shore communication. Crew can obtain approvals easily from management/owner reps at a distance, follow safety procedures and maintain the owner’s asset at its best value.
For more details visit www.deepbluesw.com
Yulia continues, “Seazone also provides a dedicated customer success manager to help with the initial setup and implementation process and throughout the year.”
Obviously with the nature of the business, virtual training is a must and it might not be able to happen within a normal nine to five working day and so how is this handled? “We find that training videos are the most effective because they’re accessible to users in their own time,” Clarke confirms. This is backed up by Mendes from IDEA, he says, “All our training videos are available via our website if we can’t carry out one-to-one sessions, and we are also in the throws of launching a training academy with certification. This will be of great benefit to crew, and we’re excited to be bringing this to the market.”
It will be no surprise to hear that when talking to the ‘younger’ generation of crew, the sales process is far simpler and the willingness to adopt a new system is higher. Yulia expands on this, “Younger captains tend to be more willing to accept change and surprisingly or not, the new wave of yacht owners are really pushing for more effective communication and want to know what is going on and want to be more involved. But our number one challenge is that this is a traditional industry by nature.”
Confidence in the system’s ability is obviously of vital importance and as Mendes explains, “We’ve found case studies have been a great confidence booster. Tie this in with live presentations to all the departments and looking at the user friendliness of the system and just how we can assist and improve the yacht’s daily operation is great. The engineering department is the easier one, we then have to convince the others such as the galley and the interior, but if we’re championed by the engineering department, this becomes easier.”
A different tack is sometimes necessary as Clarke explains, “Our biggest hurdle is yachts having a planned maintenance system that was implemented in the build process and resistance from the engineering department to move away from that when the yacht is operational. However, over time we’ve realised that our clients have discovered it’s worth adding Total Superyacht and all its benefits to the rest of the crew departments and allowing the engineers to keep the original system.” But as mentioned before, Clarke has also found that the younger generation of engineers are more open minded to the software.
Yulia has one final comment, “Another interesting twist we discovered is that women in leadership roles are more inclined to accept technological advances, if it serves the purpose of better communication, productivity and transparency.
The industry is going through generational changes, and Seazone comes at the perfect time for the new generation of yacht owners, captains, crew and management teams.”
In summary, we know ‘data is king’ and with the massive changes we are seeing in technology, the size of yachts (and larger crews) and the implementation of more necessary compliance and safety regulations there is definitely a need for a yacht management system on board that is intuitive and scalable. Whether you’re a head of department or working on shore with a management company you need to delete those excel spreadsheets and ‘get with the times’, we have no doubt these systems will make your lives simpler and allow you to get on with your real job.