Choosing Crewing Software – TOP 10 reasons why it fails
Having spoken to a number of potential customers on daily bases looking for crewing software for their company, it is obvious you to start realizing what are the main top reasons why companies start to fail at the very beginning when identifying various crew management software options. CrewInspector.com as many other companies also uses various 3rd party tools internally so we can easily put ourselves in their shoes since we understand the selection process.
There are always exceptions; however the article describes generalized cases which occur most of the time.
- Wrong perception of software
No offence, people get used fast to the things they like but often do have resistance to something new, especially if it primarily affects their daily work and it requires re-programming the mind to think and act differently. Resistance is one of the things managers face when introducing (enforcing) new tools in the company. Another issue of a crew manager is perception if they have been working solely with MS Excel, Access or similar Microsoft based databases, you would expect any other software to function the same way as an excel sheet. Forget about it, re-program yourself and you will be astonished how easy and fast you can accommodate to something new, this especially important the web based solutions.
- Manager said to get one
Imagine the case, your are middle level manager or administrator and your superior asked you to find crewing software in the market, evaluate it, sign agreement and deploy within the company. Sounds like an easy task. But how it works in reality? Since you are not the decision maker, it will be pretty hard for you to find the most suitable crewing software especially if the manager is not involved in the selection process. It may end up with ping-pong between you, your manager and the crew management system representative. You will want to have the best tool, your superior will want to spend as low money as possible – you will end up with pretty average solution for low cost which at end of the day may not meet your requirements. Involve the division or company manager from the very beginning in the selection process and provide intensive feedback as you will be the one to work with the software later on.
- We will better develop our own platform
There is nothing wrong with decision to develop own crew management system for the company and internal use. But before proceeding with this, are you able to answer following questions assuring yourself:
- Will you have enough money, time and resources to pay 100% attention to follow development cycle considering that everyone is so busy with daily routine tasks;
- Will you have enough cash to apply further amendments to the system and pay for ongoing maintenance and support;
- Consider employee rotation in company. What would happen if those key people who know the software inside out leave the company after 2-5 years, do you have anybody transferring their knowledge further?
- Building anything from the scratch even professionals working in the IT industry for years have failures. Especially if it’s your first project, be ready to fail while making an excellent product based on specifications but not really working in the real life. Can you afford to rebuild it afterwards?
- Awkward management focused requirements
Top – down planning is all right if you want to achieve strategic objectives within the crew management company and this is primary related to long term milestones. Can it be applied when choosing crewing software? Our answer is NO. And here comes the answer why bottom-up planning is better. This is especially important for maritime companies with 20 employees and above.
- 80% of all work bringing revenues is done by lowest or middle level employees, thus they are your most important asset; involve them heavily in the selection process as the software must primary ease their daily job;
- Reporting is important for senior level when making strategic decisions. Such decisions are not made on daily bases, so forget about the reporting as primary requirement. You can ask ad-hoc report from the vendor at any time when actually you need it. Think better on how your employees can operate with the system easily, get information from the system and feed data fast and concentrate on other tasks to bring more revenues for the company.
- Still not convinced? Again, involve lowest and middle level employees – they will provide you most valuable feedback, they will appreciate it and overall motivation within the company will grow. There will be no need to enforce the software or sell it to the team, it will come in naturally. Make it as teamwork and ensure there is one responsible on top of the team.
- Stop building ridiculous projects
Get rid of projects and draft instead 1 sheet of core crewing system requirements and move across with them to identify the best tool. The larger you will have requirements list the bigger problems you will face getting everything together; ending up lost and far away your primary goal – to introduce crew management software.
- Inappropriate testing cases
Is the first impression right or wrong? Neither is the answer for the software as it might look good but functioning terribly and vice versa. Normally for first crewing software insights you would ask for presentation to understand how the system works. Afterwards you may want to have a demo and try it yourself. Ok, sounds good, but does not prove anything as it’s only clicking around the various modules based on which right decision can’t be made. Here is what should be done: get the system set-up for you for 1-3 months, use it completely for crew management of one vessel, gather feedback from people involved in the testing and make your final decision on further cooperation with the vendor or wait so you can try another one. Your patience and dedication will reward you in the long term.
- Get it now for whatever it takes
If you haven’t found the software yet that would suite your needs, leave it for a while. Either you are not ready or market is not ready for your requirements.
- Involving IT department in the selection process
Many companies do have internal IT department or do use outsourced IT services to set-up printers, manager internal networks, install computers and solve the user based issues occurring from time to time.
- IT Admin is not a programmer nevertheless he/she might be educated to the level understanding the basics or beyond the basics
- IT manager does not work with crew management on daily bases
- If you have single IT Admin within the company, cloud based crewing software means fear for him, thinking that eventually he/she might lose the job in the future.
- Consult and take IT department opinion in consideration, but do not make your final decision primarily relying on it.
- Want to have all features now
Having everything and right now is perfect combination which is never achievable. Whatever software crew manager might choose, it might be lacking something, for example, some special reporting or minor feature such as integrated e-mail functionality. And in most of the cases some minor feature is probably good to have and not show stopper. Again the tip: if you see your expectations list has grown into the project, get rid of project, make list of must have functionality, prioritize and find most applicable vendor which is also able to provide tailored functionality afterwards.
- Thinking short-term
Would buy a car without having any further service available? Most likely not. Many crewing agencies are expecting to buy crew software as a database tool, paying for it once and having no further relation to the vendor. Ask yourself, would you expect that such company still exists after few years after selling the crewing software to you. As technology develops, you will be unable to ask any software enhancements from the vendor which disappears. It is much safer to choose vendors which charge you tiny monthly fee or annual licence fee for full package service.