Steamship Authority Ready to Implement Recommendations

M/V Nantucket

FALMOUTH – The Steamship Authority is moving into the implementation phase on the recommendations made by a consultation firm following a study of the ferry service’s operations.

HMS Consulting, Glosten Associates and Rigor Analytics made 10 recommendations to improve operations after a comprehensive review.

The review was commissioned after a series of mechanical failures last spring and summer that caused travel disruptions and cancellations.

Implementation plans for the recommendations were presented to the Authority’s board earlier this month and were approved by a unanimous vote by the members who were present.

The Steamship Authority have already completed two of the ten recommendations, including hiring a Health, Safety, Quality and Environment Manager and increasing external recruiting.

Implementation plans have been developed for the eight remaining projects.

Steamship Communications Director Sean Driscoll said ferry service will first look to implement a Safety Management System, Quality Management System and a Learning Management System.

“Those are all systems that we will use to move to what is referred to as a process-based culture,” Driscoll said.

The culture will use documented procedures as opposed to the individual memory of certain employees who could end up leaving the company.

“We are sort of establishing how we do what we do and why we do what we do so that people can follow it without having to be as dependent on one individual,” he said.

The Steamship Authority reached an agreement in April with a Vancouver-based company to provide the ferry service with its first process-based Learning Management System.

Marine Learning System’s software, MarineLMS, will act as the Authority’s central hub for delivering and managing its marine and shore side training and assessment programs.

The secure web-based platform will be accessible to all Authority personnel, which in the summer includes more than 700 individuals.

Other recommendations include:

  • Developing a mission statement and promoting it throughout the agency and its constituent communities.
  • Developing and maintaining a strategic plan to provide the SSA with medium- and long-term decision making guidance and a basis for measuring organizational performance.
  • Developing and maintaining metrics that are tied to the strategic plan for measuring the performance of SSA supervisory staff.
  • Satisfying the critical resource needs in the engineering department and further evaluate additional needs.
  • Realigning of operational departments and potential addition of an operations department head.

Driscoll said it should take a few years to complete all the improvements.

“For some of these the finish line is further away than others,” he said. “We will have a lot of these moving at the same time and not all of them will necessarily start now. Some of them will have to wait until other things are done.”

Driscoll said safety is a number one priority for the SSA and that they want to make sure passengers understand that everything is done to provide safe and reliable transportation between the islands and the mainland.

“Our struggles of last year are not exactly secret and we are working hard to make sure we never have that happen again and a big part of that is going to be [these implementations],” Driscoll said. “Hopefully, our customers have already seen improvements.”

The SSA has had very few mechanical cancelations this year.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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