New ways with old ideas
For around seventeen years, BIMCO’s Idea charter party editor has been one of the most widely used applications by shipbrokers and owners. According to BIMCO some 40,000 contracts annually have been documented using it by the systems 3,000 subscribers. In January this year, BIMCO launched its replacement which it claims has more features and increased security. The new product is called SmartCon, and is designed to integrate with Microsoft’s Word and Cloud platforms. Grant Hunter, Head of Contracts and Clauses at BIMCO, described SmartCon as a brand-new approach to contract editing, saying it will significantly ease the work life of current users and will attract new users to BIMCO's contract universe. The SmartCon contract editing software has all of IDEA's software features, but is now based on an encrypted Word-document, which provides additional security, enhanced editing functions and dramatically reduces complexity. In addition, it has context sensitive explanatory notes, direct access to eLearning modules and members can write directly to BIMCO's Support & Advice function. The key innovation in SmartCon is that the features are built into a Word document, which will integrate and merge seamlessly with the normal workflow of users. The contracts can be shared until it is fixed, without security risks, as everything is protected and authenticated by Microsoft's Cloud security infrastructure. In common with other charter party editor's, it's not possible to turn off "Track Changes" in SmartCon. This allows two parties to work on a contract as part of their regular work flow, but neither can make any changes to the document, without both being able to see it. The core features, which make it a binding legal document, cannot be removed. Thirty-five of BIMCO's most popular contracts are available in SmartCon today, with more to be added. The available eLearning modules will be limited at launch. SmartCon customers can use multifactor identification, for example through Microsoft's app, where opening a document requires an additional code to be sent to the user's phone. In SmartCon, BIMCO does not store user information - everything is in Microsoft's cloud and protected by Microsoft's technology.