If your company is keeping its personnel and other important records on paper these days, you might as well be wearing a leisure suit from the 1970s. Even the use of spreadsheets to record vital company information is being shown the door.

“All of that can be moved online and placed within a learning management system,” Murray Goldberg, Marine Learning Systems, Vancouver, British Columbia, said during his presentation this week at the Passenger Vessel Association Convention in Savannah, Ga. “Working with paper or looking through a bunch of spreadsheets ties up administrative personnel and too much can fall through the cracks.”

Goldberg’s company, as well as others, can develop software for any company that wants to move away from paper and spreadsheets. The program can help you track an employee from hiring to training to additional training as he or she moves forward in the company. “It can help in the management of training and training reporting,” said Goldberg. “There can be a central place where both the employee and management can have access, for example.”

The software can tell management how well a certain employee did on his or her written training exams and how long it took to answer each question. Even if the employee got the question right, perhaps there should be a discussion about what the thought process was, said Goldberg.

Even training sessions out in the field can be evaluated by a supervisor using an electronic pad to fill out training forms as the session goes along. “A company can also see what the status of an employee’s credentials is. Is his license coming up for renewal, for example.” said Goldberg. “The program can send a reminder for every employee in any situation like that.”

Marine Learning Systems puts together the software program and can add or subtract from the programs abilities for a monthly price. “We don’t charge a start-up fee,” said Goldberg.

Gerald Poyant, director of operations, Hi-Line Cruises, Hyannis, Mass., said he sat in on one of Goldberg's presentations and thought the idea was a good one.

“We’re starting slow, just the crewmembers,” he said. “I was very intimidated because I didn’t know if I was up to the task of doing this.”

Poyant said things are changing. He does interviews via Skype, and sends training questions and tests out from his marine training system before he meets them in person. “It’s going to save me a lot of aggravation going forward,” he said. “I’m very excited about the possibilities."

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.