Melbourne Airport employs 10 fence inspectors. Across a 12-hour shift, each five-person team has to inspect the fence line around the airport half-a-dozen times. And every inspection has to be lodged on a paper report. That’s 4380 pieces of paper every year, describing fences. But no more.
Improving inspection forms is one of five areas where Melbourne Airport is trying to improve its business processes, increase its use of technologies and reduce expenses. As process improvement manager Anna Gikovski explained at Gartner’s BPM conference in Sydney today, shifting from paper to a tablet-based system has several benefits.
“If they find a hole in the fence, they need to make a phone call and alert someone. With the business process management software (BPMS) they will be able to use a tablet to complete this form, the right people are alerted and we have an interface with our Maximo asset management system to initiate a repair.”
Melbourne Airport is just completing the first stage of its implementation of Appian’s BPMS. The airport deliberately chose to concentrate on just five areas initially — airside inspection forms, live incident management, health and safety reporting, customer feedback and permit processes — rather than trying for a company-wide approach across all 300 staff.
“To begin with we thought we’d go full steam ahead and implement all five components at once, but we reflected and thought ‘No, that’s a massive change’,” Givovski said. “We need to be realistic and practical. It has been our experience that we need to implement and embed in bite-sized chunks so our staff can absorb the new technologies.
That doesn’t mean the changes won’t come eventually. “We need to get smarter in the way we do things. We’re looking to ensure we don’t grow costs as we grow revenue. “We’re looking to automate and move manual processes into automated workflow. There are significant amounts of double handling and data entry.”
“Through this project what we are trying to achieve is improved data management — it’s critical that the right people are alerted at the right time. We saw a BPMS tool as the right platform to communicate once and get the right people involved.”
The first phase of the project will finish in June. What lessons has the airport learned? “For us, I think this is about change,” Givovski said. “This is not just putting in a tool — we need to communicate what the overall vision is and why we’re headed this way.”
The other big lesson? Make sure you have sufficient training resources. “We probably didn’t anticipate the need for training and support post-rollout,” Givovski said. “It’s just ongoing.” For some operational staff, this was their first exposure to a tablet. “With some of our operational staff who have not used systems and come from a paper-based environment, this is all very new.”
Picture: Getty Images