AIM Consulting Delivers on Airline Crew Systems Integration Project

Case Study: Delivery Leadership

SITUATION

After a successful merger between a major U.S. airline and a competitor, a large-scale crew systems integration initiative began to manage both airlines’ pilot and flight attendant schedules, flights, and personnel details. However, the project delivery team ran into a number of issues in developing the solutions, and the project stalled midway through the effort.

The incumbent program manager heading the initiative also had full-time responsibility as a development manager for other projects and lacked the bandwidth to address issues that arose. Project managers supporting the initiative were using different project schedules, formats and reporting standards; scope was not being managed appropriately and change controls were not in place. As a result, project schedules were fluid and not reliable.

Additionally, the parent airline had migrated to a new third-party crew system solution and was encountering difficulty using the product as designed. The third party system was just one component of a complex interdependent set of home-grown and third-party applications, all of which needed to incorporate the acquired airline’s crew system data as well as any emerging requirements that arose during the project.

Halfway into the 15-month effort, stakeholders searched for experienced leadership to reset the project and complete it on time, and found the solution in AIM Consulting’s Delivery Leadership practice.

SOLUTION

An AIM senior consultant served as program manager and aligned the numerous project resources to deliver the unified crew management systems on time.

Working with several customer-focused program managers and leading four project managers on the development side, the AIM consultant managed the development workstreams for both the pilot and flight attendant crew system software integrations.

Within one month, AIM Consulting gathered requirements and expectations from stakeholders and team members, identified gaps, and established a clear and consistently communicated development schedule by:

  • Creating consensus on project schedule task formatting, how to status tasks, and how code would flow from development to user testing.
  • Standardizing project status reporting, including harmonizing of definitions, declaring status report time-frames, and ensuring that reports were always delivered with fresh data.
  • Standardizing development meetings to uncover issues quickly and determine the best processes to expedite their resolution.
  • Developing a communications cadence leading to an end-to-end view of software delivery, testing, and user acceptance.
  • Developing a change management process to address scope changes as they were uncovered.
  • Merging the development content timelines with environment planning, integrated testing and user testing schedules to ensure those teams understood when to expect software deliveries.

AIM worked onsite with the project teams, establishing a development cadence that accommodated for change as it occurred. Once teams and workers were aligned, key milestones were met and the project ran smoothly to an on-time completion.

RESULTS

After flawless cutovers to the pilot and flight attendant systems, each system now operates fluently within the airline’s family of crew systems applications and on a mixed fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes.

An additional benefit from AIM’s involvement was the creation of a project backlog of priorities the development teams are working on to further tune and enhance the systems moving forward.

Upon the systems integration project’s completion, the airline requested for the AIM resource to lead a larger and longer-term project.