Melbourne Airport flies high with modernised reporting processes

Melbourne Airport is slowly moving its paper-based reporting processes into an automated system as part of modernising its business process management.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Melbourne Airport has forecasted that 38 million passengers will pass through its gates by 2018, and 64 million by 2033. To accommodate for this growth, Melbourne Airport is nearing the completion of the first phase of modernising its paper-based safety inspection and incident management reporting using Appian's work platform.

Speaking at the Gartner Business Process Management Summit 2014 in Sydney, Melbourne Airport process improvement manager, Anna Gikovski, said given the forecasted growth it meant the airport had to "get smarter" in the way it did things "to ensure we don't grow our costs as we grow revenue".

According to Gikovski, the company was looking to automate its workflow as there was a "significant amount of double handling of data entry, which meant it was very difficult to instigate and enable a single source of truth".

"Through this project, what we were trying to achieve was to improve data management and to be able to only record the information once, and once it goes into the system, management is alerted and will access the information in real-time. It also ensures the right people are alerted," she said.

"We realised in an airport environment we perhaps sometimes need to have a business management team and recovery team, and that layer communication is critical, so we can communicate and get the right people involved to handle a situation."

The first phase of the project rollout, due to be completed by June 2014, is focused on automating its safety, security, environment, and service processes that involved tasks including inspections, live incident management, investigations, trend analysis, and legal claims.

Gikovski drew on how airside safety inspection processes have been improved as an example since the implementation of Appian's work platform.

"We have a team of five people that work 12-hour shift — a day shift and a night shift. A fence line inspection has to happen six times in that 12 hours, that's six pieces of paper in that shift, and 12 over the course of 24 hours. What this means we have about 4,400 odd pieces of paper from that one inspection that needs to be entered and tracked," she said.

"Along with that is the alerting process, whilst they are completing their forms, if they find a hole in the fence they need to make a phone call and alert someone.

"What BPM has allowed us to do is they will be able to use a tablet to complete this form, so single source of truth goes in once and in real-time, the alert happens and the right people are alerted, but also we have an interface with our asset management system that then puts forward a work order, so a contractor can come and repair the fence, and it's all tracked."

A similar long-winded process is experienced by contractors who are required each time to fill-out paper-based forms in order to obtain an access permit for their visit at Melbourne Airport.

"If a contractor needs to access our ceilings or tunnels to do maintenance work, they need to apply for a permit and this was quite a manual paper-based process, which would then have to be approved and signed off by project managers," Gikovski said.

"Now, we're able to do that all that electronically, which means a reduction in paper work, reduction in data entry, and a reduction in lead time."

While the results are there, it hasn't been a completely smooth process, Gikovski admitted, as the company didn't anticipate the amount of training and support that was required post-rollout.

"Thinking you can rollout a system and train people once didn't pan out for us. So for us, we learnt it means going back and ensuring we're able to support staff with the change," she said, noting the staff is made up of a combination of generation Y — who embraced the new process easily — and baby boomers, where the use of tablets was alien to them.

"This is about needing to communicate the change correctly and ensure we engage stakeholders at every level."

The second phase of the business process management rollout for Melbourne Airport will involve aviation security and identification cards. Currently 5,000 people are distributed ID cards on a yearly basis, and according to Gikovski, the process requires "significant rework".

"We're looking forward to leveraging the platform we've integrated. We can see that we can automate a lot of the processes that still exist," she concluded.

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