BIMCO's new KPI software for shipowners: free for members, but is it worth it?
At the Hamburg live demonstration of BIMCO’s new Key Performance Indicator (KPI) software, we were given a first hand look to a new interactive method for handling supply chain requirements, benchmarking fleet efficiency and automating the generation of reports for regulatory compliance (presumably, such reports only work only on a general level, rather than being adapted to the specific legal framework of the respective flag state).
BIMCO members pay only a setup fee to begin using the KPI software – as an incentive! There is no ongoing cost to use the KPI software, as it is rolled into the BIMCO membership fee.
The software tracks what is called ‘ship metadata’, e.g. the depth, breadth, deadweight tonnage, the ship type, year built, etc. Also mutable characteristics like its class, its P&I club, if it is laid up, or its flag can be incorporated into the ship metadata.
Both individual ship data and fleet data can be reflected in multiple ways, e.g. a pie chart or a general overview, where indicators are marked red, yellow or green depending on whether they are underperforming, averagely performing or well performing. By way of such an overview, the owner is supposed to be able to quickly ascertain potential areas for improvement based on this red, green and yellow color-coding.
Any data entered into the BIMCO KPI software is not visible to BIMCO. Rather, it is held in trust by a Cyprus entity which has the exclusive guardianship over submitted data.
Beginning with the third entry of a dataset into the system, it is possible for the owner to anonymously benchmark his vessels against competitors’, to get an idea of its industry ranking. For example, an owner could change the class metadata tag and see whether the performance of ships generally improves under one class or another, ostensibly allowing for smarter decision making – although of course the causation and correlation question needs to be adequately taken into account. (The author thinks there is already enough competition in shipping, so escalating things by pitting fleets against each other seems a bad idea.)
Amusingly, when the BIMCO KPI software demo was launched in the room, general chaos ensued as it became clear that the system was subject to an error. The organizers called for a coffee break in order to have a moment to sort it all out.
Following the formal presentation, the presenter noted that one of the most difficult issues that they have dealt with is users inputting missing or incorrect data, which is of course an issue that all data management systems face. In general, we felt that the amount of data entry required to use the KPI software system is quite immense. Marshaling the resources required on a human resources level to adequately interface with the software will be challenging.
BIMCO, however, anticipates a solution to this problem within the year.
A representative from Bugsier asked whether the company already has tug boats in their database, to which the presenter mentioned that so far there are only a few tugboats so far, although BIMCO hopes to have more and more join in the software.
As of March 23, 2013, SOFTimpact, the company in charge of the KPI software, announced publicly that it had more than 1,600 vessels registered and was set to reach 2,000 vessels registered by the start of 2014 (i.e. almost four years ago).