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The Scalability Gap: Crew Operations’ barrier to delivering business value

Narayan Venkatesh

May 13, 2024

The reality

The shipping industry thrives on the dedication and expertise of its seafarers. But behind the scenes, crewing teams face a constant tug-of-war between achieving optimal outcomes and the limitations of manual processes.

The day-to-day reality of a crew manager is filled with many questions and the decisions they make based on the answers.

  • Port logistics: Which ports are suitable for crew changes and is the port stay long enough?
  • Crew travel and well-being: What airline offers are available that balance costs, comfort, travel requirements, visas, and other elements?
  • Safe operations: Will seafarer fatigue increase the risk of human errors?
  • Compliance & cost: Is this compliant with company policies and employment contracts?

Why it matters

If you take the time to painstakingly analyze every decision, you'll make better choices but move far too slowly. Conversely, making rapid decisions without proper analysis leads to poor outcomes. Crew operators today strike a balance by settling for "good enough" instead of achieving optimal outcomes for the business and the crew.

Crewing leadership would like to drive business outcomes - be it costs, seafarer-wellbeing, safe operations or others. Outsourcing and process refinements offer occasional pockets of improvements but cannot scale across the fleet and seafarer talent pool.

Today, almost all shipping companies are facing  the “Scalability Gap”. How do you know you’re facing one? It’s when you’ve faced 2 key situations:

  • Accepting the status quo: You’re operating with limited understanding of operator choices and impact, accept the status quo despite concerns and continue operating
  • Limited impact from past efforts: You’ve attempted to introduce additional staff, shuffled roles and responsibilities, updated process among other attempts, you’re still not sure you meet your KPIs

Positive outlook

The answer lies in a tech-powered future. By embracing technology, crewing departments can cross this Scalability Gap – a future where data-driven decision making empowers teams to navigate uncertainty and maximize business performance, all while increasing productivity and well-being.

Tilla has developed a crew operations maturity model designed to help crewing teams identify this Scalability Gap. Our next article will introduce the maturity model that we use to unlock the full potential of crew operators and drive business performance.

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