Shipbroker

There are some offices with low overheads which regularly produce a high income and turnover with limited staff numbers. On the other hand, there are over-staffed organisations, which perform badly. It is not that staff in either group work particularly harder than in the other, although personal motivation is an important factor. The main difference comes down to ‘organisation’. In the dry-cargo market with its variety of ‘players’ ranging from shipowners to charterers, from traders to operators, and from brokers to agents, different sectors require different organisation techniques. Consequently, it is difficult here to do more than to generalise, except to mention that with computerization, many of the labour and time-demanding tasks can now be tackled far more effectively. It should therefore be an essential duty of anyone given the responsibility for office administration to consider carefully and regularly how essential activities may be better performed, at the same time giving staff an interesting and responsible opportunity to contribute to the overall aims of the company. For shipowners, office personnel numbers can be related to the number of vessel units at sea in order to assess whether or not administration staff is being kept to reasonable proportions. Obviously, with a small fleet of, say, less than five ships, office personnel per vessel will probably be at a higher ratio than is necessary for a larger fleet. With a large fleet it is possible that effective control from the very top of the organisation may be weakened unless stringent reporting procedures are laid down and adhered to. One way of exercising effective control is to create teams of administrators operating individual “fleets” within the whole, thereby doing away with departmentalisation that would otherwise be required and which tends to create unnecessary rivalries, rather than to build up a more healthy, competition amongst internal “fleets”, which is to be encouraged. Whether departmentalised or divided into fleet units the activities which need adequate coverage mirror ship-management duties, such as operations, chartering, port captaincy, technical, insurance, storing and provisioning, and accountancy.