SCF Marine is an integrated river transportation and logistics services company that has been operating across North and South America for over 40 years. A long-time user of our legacy software, Helm Marine Operations V6 (Helm V6), SCF Marine recently transitioned to Helm CONNECT Personnel to help streamline their payroll process.
Although Helm V6 was a powerful system for generating payroll, SCF still had to track pay rates manually based on job classifications and enter every employee’s schedule information from an Excel worksheet every two weeks. This manual data entry was time-consuming and left room for error. SCF knew that Helm CONNECT Personnel could store important employee data, schedule their crew, and then use that information to automatically calculate gross pay, and quickly realized that it would be the perfect solution to improve their processes by modernizing and integrating their workflows.
SCF also had another goal for implementing Helm CONNECT: integrate it with their corporate systems to further improve efficiency. As part of a corporate integration effort, SCF had recently started a rollout of a leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Workday, and knew that integrating systems would be key to simplifying workflows for their staff. Integrations like this are a major reason for Helm CONNECT’s success. Its open API makes it possible to link Helm CONNECT with almost any corporate planning system.
At SCF, Workday would be responsible for producing net crew payroll, including taxes and deductions, as well as many other aspects of their financial operations, such as tracking operating expenses. Their vision was that each system would store critical information required to calculate gross pay: Workday would maintain information on pay rates and job classifications while Helm CONNECT would track information on crew schedules so they’d know when and how much pay was earned. To avoid the manual calculation they were doing previously, SCF needed to integrate the two systems so the information from each could be shared. Their goal was to sync the payroll information entered into Workday to Helm CONNECT, where it would be used with employee schedule information to make gross pay calculations. These calculations would then be sent back to Workday to make the final deductions and payouts.
According to Jack Weber, Information Systems Manager at SCF, the project was a success despite the tight six-month deadline the team faced. “It went very well, and we were able to go live for the first payroll period of the year, which was our target,” he told us. “Now that we are live with Helm CONNECT Personnel, we’re using our crew schedules to forecast payroll, and it saves us so much time. We’ve eliminated using the Excel spreadsheets that we had to manually update then hand off for sign off. Now it’s all automated in Helm CONNECT, and the approvers have their role in the system. The effort involved today to get crew payroll out is significantly less than when we were using V6, and we know the information is accurate, so our expectations have definitely been met.”
Another benefit SCF has heard from their employees is how using crew scheduling in Helm CONNECT has given vessel managers better insight into their crew’s schedules and any potential issues that could arise there. “They’ve made comments about how much easier this system will make things,” Jack told us. “We’ve also seen greater acceptance of this system. New users are embracing this type of technology more, and the updated interface has made it a lot easier to understand and graphically see what you’re doing.”
Our Professional Services team helped Jack every step of the way, configuring Helm CONNECT Personnel, setting up the Workday integration, and training the SCF crew, dispatchers, and payroll team members. “Despite our tight timeline, the Helm team kept the project moving along,” Jack recalled. “They had a well laid out schedule and always communicated next steps to our team well in advance, so everyone knew what they were doing. It needs to be noted what a time crunch we had, though. We saw a lot of quick work and dedication from the Helm team to get this project done on time. They put in quite a bit of overtime, making themselves available off hours and on weekends to get this project done on time, and they did.
The Helm team is a fun group of people who take the job seriously but also understand that this is a people business. They were there for us throughout the project, and I couldn’t imagine having done this without the professional team that we had.”
When asked about the importance of integrations for improving business operations, Jack left us with this: “I wouldn’t tell another company how to run their business, but I can’t imagine them not having an integration set up between Helm CONNECT and their ERP. It has eliminated manual data entry and saved us so much time. In the future, this integration will allow us to increase our crew and payroll without needing to increase our shoreside personnel.”