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In retrospect

Saving costs in maritime consultancy...


For some time now it’s been difficult to telephone any marine consultancy and expect to find a ‘one-stop-shop’ where every possible strand of maritime expertise is available. In the ‘olden’ days it may have been enough to talk to a ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ man (and it was a man) and you’d generally find someone with enough experience to meet your needs. Today expertise has become ever more specialized as new methodologies, technologies and regulation are introduced. Just as medicine and other industries have become increasingly specialized so has the maritime sector, although a little more slowly than many. There are several different types neurologist let alone 'surgeons' for example, from clinical neurophysiologists to pediatric physiologists, and so it is with mariners.

Nowadays, wet experts include various disciplines such as LNG, LPG, VLCC, chemical or product experts. ‘Dry’ men might include specialisms such as dry bulk, container, break-bulk or project cargo operations, but now also includes relatively new specialisms such as DP operations, anchor handling, heavy-lift and cable installations. Where can a client go to be assured they have the right skill-set to hand?

A call to a traditional consultancy is possibly likely to lead to the client being shoe-horned into using one of their in-house consultants. That consultant may know a bit, but possibly isn’t necessarily an expert. The traditional consultancies will argue that they need to cover their overheads and the costs of maintaining an office full of people. They’re unlikely to say they don’t have the right solution... they’re going to say ‘Yes’ they can do it and not turn business away. The true cost of maintaining these sometimes cumbersome service providers is borne by the client when they’re asked to pay premium rates for not quite the right expert.

We’ve spent a great deal of time in the last year asking potential clients what it is they really need from their maritime consultants. We’ve been clearly told of the need to reduce costs and yet provide something ‘new’. Cutting costs is relatively easy and anyone can do that. We suggest that ‘extracting’ cost is a far more sustainable approach and we use powerful tools to do it. Similarly, delivering something ‘new’ into our industry is challenging, but we believe we’ve achieved that too.

We offer clients access to a diverse network of trusted associates who can come together just for the duration of a project. Each associate is chosen for the specific project because they have the precise experience that’s needed. We then offer to deliver those services under the umbrella of a formal ‘type approved’ project management methodology. The methodology we use is widely used outside the maritime sector but almost unknown within it. We use PRinCE2 which, properly applied, is proven to control ALL the uncertainties arising in a project, particularly cost.

Cost, Risk and Benefit are just some of the ‘aspects of management’ that we control throughout ALL our work for a client. This includes identifying ways of extracting cost from the project and passing that benefit on to the client. Additionally, by using a network of trusted associates that operate flexibly, without much in the way of overhead, and making good use of collaborative on-line tools, we’re able to save money on our own activities and pass those savings on to our clients too. That’s real cost-efficiency in maritime services.

Simon Beechinor