BIMCO has added several features to its contract editor since it was launched in 2018, and more will be added by the end of the year and throughout 2020.
“We have received a lot of valuable feedback from SmartCon users on how they would like to use the system and see it develop in the future, and we’ve listened to that,” says Grant Hunter, Head of Contracts & Clauses at BIMCO.
The first major upgrade for SmartCon included a compare function and, at the request of many users, BIMCO has added fixed line numbers to some contracts . Furthermore, BIMCO improved a ‘reverse changes’ functionality to enable an easier workflow when deleting another user’s text in a document.
“It is important to us that the tool is based on how maritime industry professionals actually work – not how we imagine they ideally should work - with one exception,” Hunter says
The exception is that he has been surprised as to how many companies are prepared to rely on unverified Word copies of BIMCO contracts downloaded from the internet or even just typed up in somebody’s office. There is no guarantee that these are true copies of BIMCO contracts, so the allocation of liabilities and responsibilities may have been subtly changed.
“I can’t see why it is a risk worth taking when genuine authorised copies are so easily obtained through products like SmartCon,” he says.
New features before 2020
Before the end of the year, BIMCO intends to launch two additional features.
The first new feature is storage through SmartCon. Essentially, users will have the choice to have their contracts stored in SmartCon Storage instead of on local systems.
The second feature is SmartCon as a Service. In this setup, BIMCO will host SmartCon on behalf of the company using the system and users simply log in to a BIMCO-hosted server. This solution is mainly for companies, which for technical or internal it-policy reasons, are unable to use the standard solution, as SmartCon as a Service is more expensive to subscribe to. As an example, some companies do not allow login to cloud-based solutions and thus preventing use of SmartCon in its normal form.
Further down the pipeline, BIMCO is working on an option to eSign a contract. This way, users can easily add an electronic signature on a SmartCon contract and request other stakeholders to do the same instead of sending the contract around for paper-based signatures.
Most IDEA users have transferred
SmartCon was released in early 2018. Its predecessor, IDEA, was based on software, which is no longer supported, and therefore IDEA will be shut down by the end of 2019.
“Right now, we are working hard to transfer the last customers from IDEA to SmartCon. We encourage all IDEA users that haven’t made the transition yet to get started, as it does require some work,” Hunter says.
When SmartCon was released it included around 40 of BIMCO’s most commonly used contracts, but it has since been expanded to contain more than 100 contracts to cover the entire spectrum of the industry.