Helm launching new software to simplify crew scheduling, payroll

(VICTORIA, British Columbia) — Marine software provider Helm Operations is launching Helm CONNECT Personnel, a new software solution for crew management. After focusing on industry needs around marine maintenance and compliance, the company has set its sights on revolutionizing the way marine operators manage, schedule, and handle payroll for their crews.

Launching this month, Helm CONNECT Personnel addresses the unique needs of marine companies in the workboat market. It offers an end-to-end solution for crew management, crew scheduling, and payroll, and integrates with Helm’s existing software for maintenance, compliance, and harbor dispatch.

Whether they work in harbors, inland waterways, or on the open ocean, today's vessel operators have very complex crewing, scheduling, and payroll requirements. Rachel Aylard, who leads the development of Helm CONNECT Personnel, explains the problems: “On board the vessels, the crew manage time sheets, watch schedules, rest time, overtime, and downtime, sometimes across multiple pay or budget centers. And then onshore, the team balances payroll while managing leave banks and accrued time-off, which are very specific to the marine industry."

The whole crew management process requires detailed record keeping onboard for compliance and payroll purposes. These records are often replicated onshore by dispatchers and payroll clerks to ensure crews are paid correctly and on time.

Aylard also highlights how complex the job of crew dispatchers can be. "Not only do they have to ensure there's a properly certified crew planned for each vessel’s ever-changing operations, adjusting for holidays, partial hitches, rest time, and specialized work, but they must also confirm that the crew arrive at the right place at the right time for each crew change, and document who's on which vessel at what time. Although often overlooked, they have one of the most demanding jobs in the industry,” she said.

These time-consuming tasks drain the limited resources of dispatchers, who may each manage hundreds of crew across dozens of vessels, often with outdated systems or manual processes.

“Many marine companies are struggling to use mainstream scheduling and payroll systems that don’t fit their requirements. They're using aging software or spending hours doing manual data entry from paper, then calculating and balancing payroll and leave banks in spreadsheets,” said Aylard. “We want to solve those problems and give our industry powerful tools to streamline their crew scheduling and payroll. Our goal with Helm CONNECT Personnel is to reduce the workload of crew dispatchers and payroll clerks by hours each day."

The rollout for Helm CONNECT Personnel begins in June with a crew scheduling module, including time tracking and crew change management. The next module to roll out will be a powerful payroll module designed specifically for marine use cases, which are often not supported by mainstream payroll systems.

For more information, visit www.helmoperations.com.

By Professional Mariner Staff