Estimation of Maintenance Cost of Naval Ships

Reasonable estimation of the Maintenance Cost of the ships is one of the important requisites for preparing the fleet Operation and Support (O&S) budget of any Navy. The O&S cost would mainly include the Personnel, Fuel and the Maintenance cost  and normally the yearly maintenance cost of commissioned Naval Ship would consist of the following:

1. Afloat Maintenance Cost – Man-hours of the ship’s crew involved in the Level 1 maintenance activities. EMC1
2. Intermediate Maintenance Cost – Man-hours of the Base Maintainers involved in the Level 2  maintenance activities.
3. Workshop and Depot Maintenance cost – Man-hours for the Level 3 maintenance activities, Cost of Docking, Refits, Planned Additions & Alterations, unscheduled maintenance costs etc.
4. Material costs – Cost of spares, consumables etc. including material handling costs.
5. Industrial Service Costs – Cost of optional and mandatory service support availed from industries, including the OEM assistance.
6. Maintenance Training and quality costs.

While the calculation of the maintenance cost based on the historic data for the fleet and organization shall give a more accurate estimation, this is often tedious and time-consuming; especially in cases where the availability of reliable historic data is a question mark. In such situations the alternate solution is to go for a high level estimate using the Life Cycle Cost thumb rules.

EMC2According to the thumb rules of Life Cycle Costing the procurement cost of a ship amounts to 40 percentage of the total Life Cycle Cost and the balance 60 percentage amounts for its sustainment and disposal. Further break down of the cost of sustainment shows that the cost of maintenance amounts to 20 to 30% of the procurement cost and it varies with the size and complexity of the ships.


Selecting the right Project Team

The success of a project is mainly determined by the quality of the human resources. In large organization the selection process of the key project team members normally starts before or during the final stages of a tender closing. PT1More often than not, one of the key positions for which the resource is identified for the Project would be the Project Manager or a Technical Lead for the project. The association of key members during the pre-project phase not only facilitates the smooth transition of the project to the Project Team from the Sales Team but also provides the much-needed continuity in taking forward the project from a technical and management perspective.

Once the Project is confirmed, the selection process of the project team commences on priority to ensure that the required resources are mobilized to kick off the project in accordance with the resource mobilization plan envisaged during the project conceptualization stages. The success of the resource mobilization process greatly depends on the quality of the mobilization and sourcing plan envisaged during the tendering stages and the support extended by the organization to materialize the same.

The roles and quantity of the team members are decided during the tendering stages based on the requirements of the project and this estimated manpower is also used to do the costing and budgeting for the project. The details of the roles shall be elaborated through Job Description documents produced during the initial stages of the recruitment process. The resource mobilization plan may be materialized through a sourcing strategy which leads to the formation of a project team constituted through a combination of existing resources of the organization, new recruitment or sub contractor personnel. The formulation of the sourcing strategy depends up on the availability of suitable internal resources, the time frame available for the recruitment and cost considerations.

All the above mentioned activities lead to the recruitment and mobilization of the Project Team and the key part of the recruitment is the selection of the right candidates. PT2Personnel with the right qualifications and experience are to be shortlisted and thereafter interviewed to verify their capability and suitability for the project. Apart from the qualification and experience, the important factors to be considered while selecting the project team is the attitude and the inter personnel skills of the candidate which plays a major role in the successful integration of the project team. Honesty, reliability, flexibility, discipline and team spirit are few the qualities to be given utmost consideration while selecting a project team member.

The capability of the interviewers to identify the suitable candidates also plays a major role in the selection of the right project team. Therefore the panel of interviewers shall be carefully chosen by the management and the panel shall ideally consist of the management and lead technical representatives of the project, subject matter experts and HR representatives.

One of the most common mistakes which is committed while recruiting the project team members is the selection of over qualified personnel for positions which do not demand  the higher level of qualifications possessed by the candidate. PT3Such candidates once selected and inducted in to the team, find it difficult to integrate in to the project team leading to poor cooperation and communication among the team members. Another mistake of similar proportion is the selection of under qualified candidates which may happen due to nepotism and organizational pressures to select the available internal candidates. It is the duty and responsibility of the management to support the project by eliminating the factors which may lead to such mistakes leading to the selection of the wrong candidates in to the project team.

Choosing the right Project Manager and Project Team is extremely important and the criteria for the selection are much beyond the qualification and experience of the candidates. It is equally important to continuously improve and strengthen the team by organizing an efficient induction plan for the selected team members followed by training programs and team building activities.

Kerala- Green & Clean?

The image of Kerala – ‘God’s own country’ is under severe threat of being branded as the ‘God’s own dumping yard’. The most common sight while  travelling around this beautiful state today is neither the coconut trees nor the greenery for which the state had been famous for.One It is the heaps of waste and dirt that have been showered around at the road sides and back waters by the people of Kerala. The accumulation of waste in such proportion in densely populated areas should be seen as nothing less than a huge biological bomb which may explode to spread diseases and disease producing agents resulting in epidemics. The most important factors which have played a major role in the creation of such a dangerous and unhygienic situation in the state are the lack of adequate and efficient waste management facilities and the corrupt and laidback approach of the governments. A careful study about the waste management initiatives taken by the governments at all levels in the state would reveal that all the steps taken in this regard were not only short sighted but also plagued with the corrupt motives of the politicians and bureaucrats. TwoIt would be practical for the people to accept that no immediate magical solution could be expected from the authorities at this critical juncture and we will have to wait for at least a few more years to get a permanent solution for this problem. Therefore as responsible citizens, it is the duty of each individual to ensure that the generation of domestic waste originating from our homes are reduced to the best possible extend and are disposed at designated places. Each individual should actively participate in the collective efforts of the community to clean up our surroundings and thereby play our role in keeping our ‘God’s own country’ Green and Clean !!!

Proactive Management

While there are many different philosophies of management, two of the most prominent ones are the Proactive and Reactive types of management. Proactive management involves planning in advance for a change or crises whereas reactive management involves the management actions initiated as a reaction to a change or crisis that has already occurred. According;y, a proactive manager is one who proactively capitalizes on the business opportunities and equally focuses on the advance identification and elimination of any risks that are likely to occur in the existing business while a Reactive Manager is the one who takes decisions and actions after the occurrence of a problem or  an event.

Planning ahead for the future is essential for the existence and growth of any organization. Pm4The top management of the company should be proactive in defining its long-term and short-term goals and ensure that they are well aligned with the company’s strategic vision. They should be able to effectively hone the entrepreneurship skills of the employees to proactively develop the business opportunities and establish systems which shall promote proactive management practices in the day-to-day activities of the company.

The key element for establishing a proactive management system is the availability of required information. A proactive manager identifies the sources of information required for managing the business in a proactive manner and institutes mechanisms to ensure the availability of this information as required. For example, a proactive manager may gather the information required for business development through seminars, constructive engagements with existing customers,  industry news letters etc. A proactive Project Manager may also employ appropriate tools and techniques to identify the risks in the business and implement the actions required to mitigate them.

A proactive manager remains open towards changes and practices change management techniques to implement changes which are needed for the sustenance and growth of the business. The very proactive nature of a manager to actively participate in the team tasks may inspire PM2the team members to be more innovative and productive in their areas of work. A proactive manager understands the importance of development of employee skills and plans their enhancement in advance to meet the short-term and long-term goals of the company. In the case of project management, the actions taken by a company towards implementing a proactive project management approach shall increase the trust and confidence of the customer, which in turn shall translate in to better customer relationship and future business prospects. A proactive manager needs to have analytic skills and must be able to identify the strengths, weakness, opportunities and risks from the pattern of available information or data and implement methods to address each one of these areas so as to create a positive outcome.

Being a proactive manager does not mean that one has to exercise strict control on all the activities of the team. However necessary channels may have to be established to obtain the information required for proactive decision-making in a timely manner to facilitate appropriate management actions. Both proactive management and reactive management could be practiced separately or in a combined manner. The more we practice proactive management the lesser will be the losses and the requirement for reactive management. More often than not it is the practice of proactive management principles that gives better return for the company which explains the reason for this to be the preferred form of management for the present day organizations.

The Win-Win Approach

One of the most challenging tasks that a Project Manager needs to handle in most of the projects is conflict resolution. Conflict could be defined as some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the opinions or actions of one of more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Differing needs are often the main cause for conflicts in projects. Such conflicts in projects if not managed properly, may lead to bitter disputes resulting in failure of contracts, loss of profit, loss of valuable resources etc. An effective Project Manager recognizes legitimacy of conflicting needs and proactively engages in examining its causes and resolves them through creative problem solving and team building.

Project Management is an organized approach in getting things done with in a limited time, cost and resources. CMThe main focus of a Project Manager shall be to deliver the project objectives in the most efficient manner by balancing the project constraints. A project shall involve several stakeholders with varying interest and expectations in the outcome of the project. An effective Project Manager is one who successfully delivers the project objectives and gain maximum mutual benefits to all the stakeholders. As the occurrence of conflicts in project are quite normal, it is very important for the Project Manager to be competent to manage these conflicts and adopt the best of the conflict resolution strategy which suits the situation.

Problem solving or Win-Win approach of conflict resolution is one of the most effective methods of conflict resolution which can be practicedWinWin by the Project Managers. This approach, also known as the confrontation, involves collaboration of the conflicting parties to reach an agreement which satisfies both the parties. This approach is most suitable for projects which involve a very important client with whom the business relation is strategic for the existence of the company. Adopting a win-win approach is by no means makes a Project Manager seem to be Mr. Nice who surrenders as soon as any conflict arises. In the case of a Win-win solution, both the parties emerge out of the conflict satisfied with agreement and may involve sacrifices and mutual gains. A Project Manager may adopt this method if the issue of conflict is absolutely critical to the success of the project and he have to invest heavily in terms of time, effort and cost.

The willingness of the conflicting parties to cooperate for a win-win solution is a key factor for the Project Manager to decide on adopting this approach. Win-win outcome for a conflict resolution could be achieved only if the issue is handled with an open mind and in a mature manner. Care should be taken to avoid any personal criticism and blame games. WinWin2All parties involved should encourage and accept out of the box ideas which could lead to a mutually beneficial solution. The commitment of the conflicting parties to implement the win-win solution, devised through their collaborative efforts, is very important for the success of the project and therefore the Project Manager should take all necessary actions to ensure the same.

The collaborative win-win approach has emerged as the most preferred and widely accepted conflict resolution technique due to the advantages it presents towards ensuring the success of the projects. Win-win solutions not only results in the growth of knowledge and respect between the stakeholders but also leads the way for innovative approaches which could enhance the productivity and produce better project outcomes. Therefore it is advisable for the Project Managers to investigate the feasibility of a win-win solution in the case of any conflict situations that arises in the project and should strive to achieve it in the most effective manner by ensuring wholehearted collaborative efforts from the respective stakeholders.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives while at the same time addressing the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders (Ref: UNIDO).

Corporate Social Responsibility can be seen as a form of built-in self regulating mechanism integrated in to the business model by corporate entities to monitor and ensure its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and international norms, and sometimes further some social good beyond the interest of the company and that which is required by the law. CR1In today’s business world Corporate Social Responsibility is also seen as a path to win the trust of stakeholders which shall form the basis of a company’s sustainable growth. The community in which the company serves through its business is a key stakeholder and therefore any Corporate Social Responsibility activity which aids in supporting the community shall directly or indirectly lead to the strengthening the health of its market ecosystem.

Corporate Social Responsibility is associated with the impact of the activities of a company on the social, environmental and economical environment it operates. The necessity to demonstrate the CSR credentials of an organization is gradually emerging as an important criterion for making major business decisions.

CSR could be established by the corporate in many different ways. However in order to ensure that the CSR initiative produce the desired results, it is imperative to implement the CSR programs in a systematic manner. The CSR initiatives of a company shall be in alignment with its strategic vision and at the same time sensitive towards its business culture. The CSR concepts needs to be slowly but steadily interwoven in to the organizational policies and practices in a comprehensive manner so that the economical, social and environmental aspects are given due consideration for decision making at all levels across the organization.

Some of the most common methods of CSR implementation are CSR Value Creation, CSR Risk Management and CSR Social Contributions. CSR  Value Creation is established through promoting innovations leading to sustainable business models which shall integrate the industry in to the community. CSR through Risk Management shall include the activities which lead to the better handling of risks through policy of riskCR2 elimination and avoidance and by establishing superior monitoring and control mechanisms to ensure strict adherence to the regulations pertaining to the environment and society. The initiative by companies across the world to reduce their carbon footprint is a step in this direction. The other alternative CSR methodology practiced by the corporate are by involving themselves in philanthropic activities and sponsorship linked to the betterment of the community.

Companies who have successfully integrated the CSR principles to their business models stand to benefit in various ways as compared to the companies which are yet to implement the CSR approach. The most visible advantage of implementing the CSR for the company is the improvement in its reputation and branding. It also promotes active stakeholder engagement and stronger bonding of the company with the community. CSR initiatives implemented towards the improving the quality of life of the employees of a company shall lead to better involvement leading to increase in productivity. The benefits of CSR are intangible on most of the occasions as it normally does not equate to material benefits, but are definitely convincing and strong enough to leave a positive impact on the business, society and the environment.