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HomeMaritimeProduct Review - Unpacking DIABOS 3.0 suite of Maritime Solutions

Product Review – Unpacking DIABOS 3.0 suite of Maritime Solutions

The activities involved in the world of maritime ship and cargo operations are as vast as the oceans that these ships traverse involving various stakeholders such as ship owners, ship operators, ship managers, charterers, port agents, crewing companies, and many more..

One of the elements that bind all these stakeholders is the financial and operational management such as maritime remittances, marine procurement, disbursement accounting, cash management, laytime calculations, charter parties, and much more..

A comprehensive and robust ship operator and agency software is required to ensure that these activities are carried out seamlessly to enable smooth maritime operations..

DIABOS 3.0 offers a suite of maritime SaaS solutions covering various modules for the tramp sector such as DA processing, Cash Management, and Smart Agent, designed to streamline and secure the financial pathways that the stakeholders must traverse..

As part of the Product Review series, I took a deep dive into the workings of this product to review the processes and how it works..

Disbursement Accounting (DA) in the maritime space is an essential financial service in the maritime industry, primarily dealing with the management of funds advanced and/or payable to cover costs such as port costs, cargo handling costs, and other expenses that a ship can incur during a port call..

The process of DA could typically include

  • Voyage call costs estimation at a given port;
  • Vetting and  Appointment of agents;
  • Funding including pre-funding;
  • Expense reporting and disbursements;
  • Final DAs;
  • Audits and Approvals;
  • Payments  in local currency

The first thing that struck me in the Disbursement Accounting module used by the ship operator was the simplicity of the dashboard..

It is fully configurable, multi-functional, simple, easy to navigate, and provides a no-nonsense, direct, and transparent view of the various aspects relating to port call management, various DA options, its statuses, and where in the workflow it is, between the various stakeholders involved..

DIABOS 3.0 - Product Review - Dashboard

The dashboard covers various types of DAs such as

  • Proforma DA (PDA) – initial DA covering all basic port and cargo operational costs that are envisaged..
  • Additional PDA (APDA) – If there are any additional services required after approval of the PDA, those costs are updated as an APDA..
  • Intermediate DA (IDA) – Immediately after the sailing of the ship, the IDA will update all costs that are anticipated to be incurred..
  • Final DA (FDA) – This shows the final costs that have been incurred and is accompanied by the relevant vendor invoices..
  • Supplementary DA (SDA) – The agent has the opportunity to add any costs that may have been missed after the submission of the FDA..

The dashboard also includes a real-time AIS data feed that shows the user how many of their ships are awaiting arrival and departure..

In addition to this, there is also a nifty map feature that gives a comprehensive view of all the ships for which port calls have been created, both open calls and historical calls for the user..

DIABOS 3.0 - Product Review - Disbursement Accounting

DA Process

This process is simple and follows a basic flow that is familiar to and adopted by most ship operators and agents globally..

  • The DA Processing module allows the auto-creation of voyages and multiple port calls either via API integration with various industry Voyage Management Applications or manual creation by the Ship Operator and/or Diabos..
  • Based on the details provided above, the port agent can be
    • asked to submit a quote for the call or
    • directly appointed and asked for a PDA (which can be created in the DIABOS system)..
  • DIABOS team does an audit of the PDA followed by a QC..
  • The QC is followed by PDA submission to the ship operator for approval.. The approval structures are configurable as a simple one-step approval or complex multi-tiered/multi-departmental approvals..
  • Once approved, the DIABOS system generates payment advice..
  • If the ship operator is part of the DIABOS Cash Management System, the payment is processed to be paid to the agent..
  • If the ship operator is NOT part of the DIABOS Cash Management System, funds are sent by the ship operator directly to the agent..
  • This module allows for the receipt and follow-ups for FDAs and SOF and also the tagging and submissions of audit reports and invoices relating to the call along with the final SOA and remittances/recoveries as may be applicable..

While users have the option to create a new voyage from a list of existing ships to start the process, the creation of new ships by the user is restricted and can only be done by DIABOS..

The response from the DIABOS team was that the user needs to “request a new ship” in line with DIABOS’s strict 3-tier compliance for each entity or ship..

Perhaps DIABOS should automate the compliance checks which will reduce waiting time for the creation of the ship..

Control and compliance

The platform’s foundational layer of control and compliance covers FCPA 1977, UK Bribery Act 2010, and GDPR along with a 3-stage compliance check which involves

  • Entity addition to Masters
  • Voyage / Port call declared – all entities involved
  • Remittance approved to an entity

I find this compliance check to be an important one as it has maximum coverage to ensure operators do not attract OFAC advisory attention and is an essential protocol safeguarding ship operators and agents against regulatory mishaps and/or financial discrepancies..

Vetting and Screening Process

The vetting and screening process of the ship operator, agent, and vendor starts with a meticulous registration audit before being integrated into DIABOS’ secure system..

This is the first line of defense guaranteeing that all entities meet the stringent standards required for compliance checks which happen twice

  1. by DIABOS using internationally acclaimed tools and
  2. by the FinTech who are governed by international laws..

These checks protect DIABOS clients from fraudulent payments or payments to sanctioned entities or countries..

The DIABOS system boasts a database of more than 5500+ ports, 9250 agents, and 4600 vendors across the world with the relevant port charges updated on a regular basis..

The audit process involves comparison against current tariffs and historical data supplemented by a maker checker process, a query moderator process, and an internal QC process..

These audits are followed by a standard two-tiered approval process that can be configured up or down as required by the customer..

The system seems well-equipped and designed to capture all costs, work, and queries maintaining a comprehensive audit trail that clients can trust..

Operational Efficiency and Workflow

The DIABOS system has placed a great deal of emphasis on operational efficiency and workflow through its digital processing of DAs..

The system allowed me to rapidly handle and execute DA processes and document management using its cloud-based digital archiving and document management system which expedited access to proforma docs and historical data..

This can be invaluable for users who need to retrieve historical data for audits, comparisons, disputes, or strategic planning..

Based on the various port call and cost details updated, I could generate and update a Consolidated DA to an Excel spreadsheet with the click of a few buttons..

As we work in a sector where time is as precious as cargo, DIABOS’s seamless workflow not only adds to the efficiency but also contributes to ESG by avoiding mountains of paperwork usually associated with compiling, comparing, and preparing various DAs..

Human interface and QC

While DIABOS places significant emphasis on the digital aspect, it seems to be placing equal emphasis on the human element through its QC element..

While the information is updated on the system and flows systematically, each DA undergoes a meticulous audit and quality control process before submission to the client..

DIABOS has differentiated itself by focusing on human oversight for the QC process using experienced experts in the field and such human oversight is valuable in providing a balance between automated efficiency and the nuanced scrutiny that only experienced professionals can offer..

Neutrality

Many people might know that DIABOS is a wholly owned subsidiary of JM Baxi, a shipping conglomerate based out of India with various verticals in Ports and Infrastructure, Marine Services and Technology, and ships agency..

Despite this affiliation, the DIABOS platform is insulated in its DA processing activities and presents a transparent and neutral agent selection process..

The platform provides ship operators with a complete record of agents at a selected port including a history of successful appointments and agency performance which gives ship operators (especially those new to a specific port) the option to make informed decisions about the agents to whom they are about to entrust their ship and cargo..

DIABOS has even been known to enforce blacklisting under specific circumstances which I think is a bold move underscoring their commitment to quality and ethical standards..

Any DA processing system can only be as good as how it manages the financial fund flow..

Through its interaction with various FinTech, DIABOS claims to be able to provide competitive FOREX rates for over 130 currencies, which is crucial for global ship operators..

The feature of this Cash Management module includes a currency converter, quick turnaround time of remittances, competitive FX rates, daily cash summaries, and exception handling for lost or delayed payments all of which are valuable for Treasury, Accounts, and Ops teams to have visibility on..

While I have not been able to test this aspect in-depth personally, I have no reason to doubt its efficiency as the other features are working as they should be..

Reporting

In terms of reporting, using DIABOS’s real-time dashboard, I was able to draw different comprehensive reports relating to the status of Port calls created/canceled and financial reports..

DIABOS 3.0 - Cash Management Dashboard

This real-time reporting removes the possibility of any “time-differential” between the events and their visibility internally or externally which I consider a disruptive and bold move that instills greater confidence in the system’s ability..

Technology

While I am not technically qualified to write about the tech stack, DIABOS 3.0 seems to incorporate a suite of technologies that are on par with, or in some areas potentially superior (like the Kubernetes Cluster) to, other modern financial systems in terms of scalability, reliability, and operational efficiency..

The specific choice of technologies indicates that this system has been designed with contemporary cloud infrastructure and security best practices in mind..

This may give it an edge in terms of performance, scalability, and user experience compared to systems that do not utilize a similar stack or that might rely on older technologies..

Integration

While the robustness of DIABOS’s system is evident in its ease of use and integration with various VMSs and ERPs, an API portal would provide optimal benefits to data partners and clients.. I was told that work is being done on this API portal as I write this review..

While the core DA Processing module is predominantly for ship operator’s use, the Smart Agent is a specialized web and mobile application designed for vessel agents to manage their side of the DA processes efficiently..

Aside from setting up their company details for the first time, this application also allows agents to upload the various DAs which can then be accessed by the ship operator to check, compare, and approve as per the processes described above..

The strength of this application lies in its operational capabilities.. Users are easily able to manage operational aspects such as the allocation of boarding persons for a specific ship, generate port line ups, and vessel declarations, and generate key operational documents such as NOR, SOF, AR, and TDR in real time..

The other strength seems to be its ability to integrate not just with the applications within the DIABOS 3.0 platform, but also with other local ERP systems, Customs, and Ports and share information using various messaging formats including EDI such as CALINF, BERMAN..

Users who prefer a digital approach to vessel agency management, irrespective of their geographic location will find this application quite useful..

In summary, DIABOS 3.0 emerges as a solid and reliable system for customers in the maritime space looking to streamline their disbursement accounting processes and optimize their payouts..

The experience of using DIABOS reflected a significant focus on operational efficiency, control, and workflow which leads to substantial cost savings for all entities involved..

The platform distinguishes itself by offering a blend of compliance, expert knowledge, technological advancement, and cost savings supported by an easy-to-access/navigate dashboard..

Its integration with existing systems and its capacity to automate and refine complex workflows stand out as particularly beneficial features..

DIABOS 3.0 is also being launched as a Mobile App at the time of this review and is expected to incorporate critical features to make it easy for ship operators and agents to estimate, receive, accept, and approve DAs on the go..

The absence of hard numbers in this review doesn’t diminish the evident operational benefits that users can expect..

Conclusion

DIABOS addresses the nuances of port, ship, and cargo operations offering solutions that cater to the intricate needs of the industry making it a strategic partner rather than just a service provider..

Ultimately, DIABOS offers a compelling proposition for ship operators, agents, and charterers who prioritize compliance and operational efficiency..


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..

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