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dimanche 9 juin 2013

Why Life Bases on remote sites are becoming increasingly important to Operators

Anyone who has spent part of his or her career working on onshore remote sites remembers at least one (but often more than that) dreary site with nearly derelict portacabins for bedrooms and similarly damaged public areas. I was in one in Angola where there were actual holes in the floor the size of my foot (and that's not small)! There were several with leaking roof (hello rainy season), one with communal showers and toilets you would not have wished to your worst enemy. I could go on and on, but I think most of you know what I mean.

Then there was the matter of equipment: how many silent-because-dead air-con units, noisy ones blowing warm air, TV on the blink or no TV at all, recreation facilities nowhere to be seen and so on. Sometime even power and water were missing!

I nearly forgot services! Food, laundry, the list is long and sad.

We all know and accept that expat's life is not meant to be a bed of roses and that conditions on remote sites often make it difficult to reach as good standards as in western countries. Fair enough. But wait! Of late, I have seen some sites with very decent accommodation areas, good ablution facilities, reasonable laundry service only losing a few of my garments, and even some with decent food, internet and so on! So what's turned the Guantanamo into holiday resorts (well, with a bit of imagination)? What made operators decide that it was time to do something about life base living conditions? Because, let's face it, it's bound to cost a lot more money to offer a nice living area than a less nice one! Companies don't get rich on throwing money out of the windows! Or don't they? I think several facts explain this wind of change. Let me try and explain..

TRANSPORTATION is a lot easier today than it's ever been before. Even to go to remote countries and sites. There's no doubt that delivering equipment is now possible, if not quite simple, nearly anywhere in the world

STANDARDS are higher. I remember in the early 80s (yes, I am that old), just about no one would have questioned anything on a site. If it wasn't good, tough luck and hope that the next one will be better. Not so today! People - even expats are people- now demand a minimum standard of life and personal comfort. A working air-con unit is not regarded as a luxury item anymore. On some sites at least.

COMMUNICATION has become such a basic commodity that few people would accept to be without internet, email and even sat TV.

Easier TRAVELLING and global ECONOMY CRISIS have forced more and more people to look for jobs away from their homes. Medias have made the general public more aware of remote sites though documentaries and information. No one wants to show something that could possibly tarnish an already fragile public image.

OPERATORS have grown intensely aware of their public image. Marketing RULES. Image is omnipresent.

I believe all the above to be true and important. Not essential. I think that the quintessential reason that made Operators want better life-bases is elsewhere.

I think it is PRODUCTIVITY. Nothing wrong with that. Better conditions mean less personnel turnover. Less turnover equals less flights, lower travel costs, less no-shows, less back-to-back having to work longer waiting for replacement and so on. Better living conditions mean that the expats workforce is globally happier at work. Expats often feel better when they can communicate with their families regularly and easily (thank you, Skype!). Happier at work means less accidents and better quality of work. All that means better productivity. The net result is positive for a lot of Expats and Companies are also better off for it.

So, let’s all rejoice that all is well in the best of worlds! Or is it? Not quite. There are still different ways of accommodating an expatriate workforce depending on their countries of origins. Globally, people originating from non-western/non US are still often housed in large dorms with communal facilities, vs. somewhat more private dwelling for the rest of us. I could also mention rotational leave, which varies from 28/28 (28 days ON, 28 days OFF) or 5/2 – 5/3 (weeks) to something like 11/1 (months!) for the least fortunate.

However, conditions are globally improving for all and that’s good. The irony of the situation being that because of those more decent conditions, more people are now willing to work abroad and expats jobs get harder to find, but hey! You can’t have your cake and eat it! 

Next time I will look into why Life-bases need better and finer management than ever.

Philippe Altman

samedi 26 novembre 2011

Premier billet

Bienvenue à tous!

Voici le premier billet d'une liste qui j'espère sera longue, mais surtout intéressante et informative.

La création de la suite logicielle Sites s'est faite sur la réflexion qu'il n'existe que peu, voire aucun logiciel spécialisé dans la gestion hôtelière des  Bases-vie éloignées de type pétrolier , minier et autres.

Ces sites ont ceci de particulier qu'ils ont une très grande autonomie de fonctionnement en raison des conditions difficiles et des impératifs de production très stricts imposés par des coûts de fonctionnement astronomiques. Ils sont constitués d'un seul ou de plusieurs camps (à terre ou en mer), qui peuvent être répartis géographiquement, mais souvent proches. Chaque camp peut accueillir un nombre déterminé de Résidents en fonction du chantier, qui va de moins de 100 à plus de 10 000. Sont souvent aussi présents des non-résidents, en général du personnel des localités avoisinantes.

Les bases-vie sont la plupart du temps multi-nationales et multi-culturelles, ce qui présente aussi des challenges. Elles sont organisées autour des Sociétés qui sont des sous-traitants du prestataire principal et du personnel de ce dernier. Chaque Société a ses propres rotations et ses propres contraintes et impératifs fonctions de la tâche à accomplir.

La gestion des Bases-vie comprend en général l'Hébergement, la Restauration, la Blanchisserie, le nettoyage des communs et espaces publics. Elle peut ausi inclure la gestion du contrôle d'accès et parfois les voyages(crew changes, R&R) voire les Ressources Humaines. Chaque contrat est différent.

Il est impossible de gérer une base-vie comme on gère un hôtel. Il existe bien entendu des similarités mais le fonctionnement est bien différent de celui d'un hôtel de tourisme ou même d'affaires. C'est la raison pour laquelle les logiciels hôteliers traditionnels ne fonctionnent pas pour les bases-vie. Il est impératif d'utiliser un outil spécifique. Ainsi est né SITES.

Ayant passé le plus clair de ma -longue- carrière dans ce milieu et de formation informatique mâtinée d'hôtellerie, j'ai fait le constat que les rares produits qui existent dans ce domaine sont mal ou pas adaptés, et surtout sont des "usines à gaz" informatiques où l'utilisateur final est totalement perdu: fonctions peu claires, enchevêtrement de commandes indéchiffrable, avec souvent un ou deux language Il m'a paru tout naturel de tenter de regrouper autour de moi des individualités complémentaires afin de créer des produits de haute qualité pour ce marché très exigeant, et surtout d'assurer un service et des prestations de tout premier ordre : études avant-vente, installations et configurations, et bien sûr suivi,  maintenance, et assistance aux utilisateurs

Ainsi est née OtherVision Software.

Philippe