The complex data that exists around offshore travel in the energy and offshore sector is little understood and often neglected. Dissecting, organising and maximising this data can, in fact, shed light on inefficiencies and provide the robust evidence for making powerful changes. But, as ever, the data needs to be in the right hands at the right time.
The recession waves that struck business during 2008 saw increased scrutiny on costs in all areas, but the energy and offshore industry was much slower to react as the oil price remained buoyant. To say that the energy and offshore sectors are now addressing cost pressures is an understatement. The gravity of the downturn has struck the industry hard and businesses have taken some radical decisions about reducing costs. Travel is often first to be assessed. Stricter policies mean more compliant workforces and the monitoring of travel can encourage economical behaviour. So with the continuing depressed oil price the time to address travel data and how it can translate to cost savings for your travel programme is now.
Travelling to offshore locations and the complex logistics and specialist skills involved mean that travel for the energy and offshore industry cannot be compared to any other sector. That doesn’t mean that offshore travel cannot be more efficient and that there isn’t scope for management information to be more sophisticated. There is always room for improvement.
Greater pressure to find cost savings breeds innovation and entrepreneurial behaviour. Out of challenging times come new ideas and new approaches. Investing in technology that can greater integrate crew HR and travel systems is just one area in which travel management businesses are working to offer greater support to their clients in the shipping and energy sectors.
The data powerhouse created means that fewer layers of HR teams and rig or crew travel planning are needed in-house. Whilst these are brave and tough decisions to make, they do reduce operating costs, and allow experts to focus on the areas where they deliver the most to the business. Of course, the immediate cost savings delivered are important, but it is not just about that. The right intelligence can empower further change and make long-term differences that are more efficient, relevant and successful.
Technology platforms such as ATPI CrewLink can cover every aspect of booking travel, including checking that the right crew members with the right qualifications, safety certificates and even visas and inoculations, can be booked to travel to the right place. Should one element change, then the technology system can also flag where other changes are needed and re-book where necessary.
During times of change and additional pressure, a valued HR team may often be better deployed in maintaining and maximising the workforce, by delivering engagement and helping people navigate challenging times. A skilled HR team with their time taken up by travellers’ visa renewals is not always the right use of specialist resource.
Similarly, having a finance team trying to reconcile all the costs of a trip or work out which third party supplier – such as medical or security assistance – needs to be contracted to support a particular team is a logistical nightmare. Tight processes, and a technology platform that can ensure that all levels of duty of care are accommodated is a big part of the jigsaw.
Clever technology doesn’t solve everything. It needs to be operated by highly trained people with the knowledge and expertise to make it deliver the right results for the business. In the business of offshore travel, mistakes or even assumptions are expensive. The right technology adoption can change behaviour, change rules and provide much-needed evidence for a business to make difficult decisions. Getting it right has never been more commercially important.
For more information on ATPI Griffinstone’s specialist services for the energy and shipping industry, including ATPI CrewLink, visit www.atpi.com.
Pippa Ganderton is the head of global account management – energy and marine at specialist travel management company ATPI Griffinstone.