OSM Maritime Group using Control and Pay
OSM Maritime Group is a Norwegian group of worldwide companies that provides services in the ship management sector both in the form of crew management and full technical management. With more than 30 years’ experience in the maritime industry, they currently employ in excess of 17,000 sailors from 70 different countries. The company also operates more than 700 vessels. As a result, the business handles extremely high number of payments on behalf of its shipping companies.
Jostein Aase, Group Controller at OSM Maritime Group, explains that they oversee a large volume of transactions in many world currencies, and that it is essential for payments to be correct:
‘Since we operate vessels on behalf of shipping owners, ensuring that we have good systems in place that run properly without any downtime provides them with great certainty,’ Aase emphasises.
When Aase joined the company in 1996, there were just a handful of people working in the accounting department split across Norway and its Manilla office in the Philippines, but today there is a team of 200 – something which demands robust systems and streamlined processes. As a result, OSM began using Aritma Control which they connected to their accounting system, Visma Business. This solution reconciles accounts on an ongoing basis, allowing them to check their work from day to day.
‘We began by trialling automatic reconciliation of bank transactions, and we found it worked very well. We save a lot of time by not doing this manually. Now we can reconcile transactions on a daily basis and know that we are always up-to-date with our bookkeeping,’ says Aase.
‘It also ensures that those in charge of overseeing these tasks on a daily basis can beone step ahead. This is particularly beneficial in terms of possible deviationsin the accounts. By the time we reach the first of the new month, we have already reconciled our accounts in full. That’s a real boost,’ Aase adds.
As the company grew and became more complex, new challenges arose:
‘As the company grew, we found that we needed to do something about the payment process itself. We simply didn’t have the time to keep on processing that many transactions manually any longer. It was taking too long, and manual processes lead to the possibility of errors,’ says Aase.
OSM Maritime Group is an umbrella for dozens of subsidiary companies, which means that the accounts team have hundreds of accounts to stay on top of. As a result, they were keen to try out Aritma Pay, which automates both receipts and payments. This meant they no longer had to log in to their online banking platform to authorise payments and could instead work directly in Visma Business and Aritma Pay.
‘One of my colleagues who is responsible for our bookkeeping told me she found it really beneficial for inbound payments to be filtered straight into the right client in Visma so that she could reconcile the transaction right away. It ensures all the right boxes in the accounts are checked off. This is the real upside here –we’ve streamlined our day-to-day activities in all matters related to bank transactions,’ says Aase.
OSM has now automated the full payment process, and Aase feels that the company has benefited from great support throughout:
‘As far as support from Aritma goes, we’ve really worked brilliantly together. We’ve remains in constant contact via Teams and there’s always help at hand if we find ourselves stuck. Things go much quicker now that we have a support team to contact who are familiar with our products and know how we operate. I think it’s absolutely great,’ says Aase.
Although OSM has been using Aritma’s solutions for many years, they still see opportunities to make their accounting processes even better and more streamlined:
‘We’re only going to expand our partnership with Aritma. Among other plans, we want to start using Aritma Control to reconcile other balance sheet accounts. At any rate, we are keen to do so in respect of large volume accounts where we disburse payments to thousands of sailors, make loan repayments, or have advances that are being held and need to be recognised in the balance sheet. You need to stay in control of your balance sheet, and this is a great tool to help you do that,’ says Aase.