Some big changes have been happening to Helm CONNECT Personnel over the past few months, and I thought it was time I finally shared the news…Personnel 2.0 is coming! Over the next year, we’ll be rolling out four major improvements to Helm CONNECT Personnel: Work Rest, Schedule, Timesheets, and Sea Time.
Why We’re Making Changes
When we launched Helm CONNECT Personnel two years ago, it was designed for live on, line haul boats with repeating schedules. Since then, after many conversations with our current and prospective customers, we realized that there’s a huge demand for a product like this from every vertical in the maritime industry, not just one. That’s when the idea of Personnel 2.0 was formed and we made the decision to turn Personnel into a viable option for everyone in our industry, regardless of their vertical.
To make Personnel work for everyone, we’re rolling out four major improvements:
- Work Rest: The new Work Rest tools will allow you to manage your crews’ fatigue. You’ll be able to record the work, travel, on watch, and rest periods of crew members to ensure they’re getting adequate rest time in compliance with industry regulations.
- Schedule: The redesigned Schedule tools will allow you to schedule your crew members to work onboard or on shore, it will also allow you to book their time off, training, and more. You’ll be able to manage your schedules by exception and manipulate them easily when things change.
- Timesheets: The redesigned Timesheets tools will allow your crew to submit time entries for payroll and link to the work they finish throughout the day, including the forms they complete or the documents they read. You’ll be able to customize this tool to include any fields that are important for you to track.
- Sea Time: The new Sea Time tools will track sea time hours from crew schedules, work rest logs, and timesheets automatically so that you can easily produce formatted sea time letters right in Helm CONNECT.
How We’re Making Changes: Agile Development
Our primary goal for adding these new features is to expand the market for Helm CONNECT Personnel. So, when it came to development, we knew that getting the market directly involved would be the key to our success. To keep our customers involved throughout the design and development of these new features, and to ensure that we’re meeting their expectations for the product, we’re using an agile process that consists of three stages: planning, development, and validation. Let’s take a look at what our process looks like.
Every successful endeavor starts with a little planning. That’s why we spend two weeks preparing for each sprint (a two-week period of software development.) During this phase, the team looks at the tickets in the development backlog—which come from internal research and customer feedback—and decides which ones to focus on in the upcoming sprint. They then assign workloads and review the list as a group.
Next, we start the development sprint, which is when the team brings the ideas from the planning phase to life. As the Product Manager, I let all the interested companies know what we’re working on in the current sprint and ask for some initial feedback. I then summarize all the feedback I’ve gathered and send it back out to the companies to review. At the end of the development sprint, we have a demo-able build of our latest work—as well as everything from our previous sprints—ready to validate.
The final phase in the process is validating our work with interested customers and prospects. We’re currently demoing the work we do in our development sprints to a group of 20 companies who provide feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and how it can be improved. We use this information to help us plan what to build next, and the whole cycle starts again.
We continue the process of planning, development, and validation until our product is approved by the market. It’s incredibly important to us that we involve our current and prospective customers as much as possible, show them that we’re listening, and ensure they’ll have a fully functional solution available to them when we’re done.
Where We Are Now
We’ve already started work on all four of the major improvements to Personnel 2.0. However, since we’ll be rolling them out over the next year or so, some are further along in the development process than others. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing more detailed blog posts about each improvement with updates on their development so far, starting with Work Rest, so stay tuned!
How You Can Get Involved
The best way to find a solution that works for you is to help create one! Let me know if you’re interested in Personnel 2.0 and want to get involved in the validation process. The companies we’re already working with tell us how exciting it is to see the results of their feedback show up in the validation demos after just a few sprints, and we’d love to have you join us!
Until next time!