Helm CONNECT Personnel Software For Crew Scheduling, Payroll

Maine software provider Helm Operations launched its 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.

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 seamlessly 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.

“Onboard the vessels, the crew manage time sheets, watch schedules, rest time, overtime and downtime, sometimes across multiple pay or budget centers,” said Rachel Aylard, who leads the development of Helm CONNECT Personnel. “And then onshore, the team balances payroll while managing leave banks and accrued time-off, which are very specific to the marine industry.”

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

Aylard also highlighted 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,” she said. “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.”

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drain the limited resources of dispatchers, who may each manage hundreds of crew across dozens of vessels, often with outdated systems or manual processes.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,” said Aylard. “They’re using aging software or spending hours doing manual data entry from paper, then calculating and balancing payroll and leave banks in spreadsheets.

“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. And, like all our Helm CONNECT products, it’s easy to learn and use.”

The roll out 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 payroll module designed specifically for marine use cases, which are often not supported by mainstream payroll systems.

“Our payroll engine is incredibly intuitive and powerful,” said Aylard.
“It has handled every case the crew dispatchers have entered in our pre-release versions, and we think it’s going to change the way many marine companies handle crew payroll.”

“Today, Helm CONNECT is used by almost 40 percent of the fleet of The American Waterways Operators,” said CEO Ron deBruyne. “We’ve seen the incredible changes and efficiencies it has brought to the industry, and we’re really excited to be offering the same benefits for crew scheduling and payroll.”