All airlines and MRO’s strive for the best and most efficient aircraft maintenance and reliable aircraft. This maximizes your fleet in the air, especially important at revenue peak times, and ensures the safe and on-time transportation of passengers across the world.

This all evolves around the theme often expressed as ‘Continuous Airworthiness’ and how to assure it. We have published around this theme before. Today, we will highlight it from a different angle: The selection of a state of the art, functionally rich MRO/M&E software system.  

Doing it right avoids the suffering from huge negative (and hidden) impact on your business processes or issues around compliance and safety. In this article we briefly outline the complexity of the selection process.

#1: Getting started

Right from the beginning we would like to give you one important advice: Focus on your processes rather than on the system itself! The processes form the fundament of any system review and selection to gain an overall process performance improvement. If you know your business processes and required inputs and outputs for the future system you are in charge and independent of the software vendor’s advice.  Moreover, it is of importance to establish a strong project team, supported by senior management.

#2: However, how do you map or design the desired business processes?

We recommend a so called ‘Brown Paper Session’. This session leads to a detailed insight in where value is created in the process (also referred to as Value Stream Map). It is a very intensive and interactive audit with all stakeholders involved to visualize the current processes and identify ‘waste’. Often it generates surprising results and in-depth “eye-openers”. Bottle necks are defined and solutions generated. Emphasis should be on how the process runs currently to identify and map the improvement areas. Senior management attendance is valued because together with the project management they have a key role in managing the overall process and make sure the outcome is processed further. Involving external consultants leads to keeping the objectiveness during the whole process.

The deliverable of the analysis is a detailed report, amongst others including the value stream map, the required inputs and outputs as well as an overview of the responsible persons. The advantage is that its content is supported by the people who helped it come to existence. It is not something made up by a single person but the result of a true group effort. This document will be the basis for the next phase the selection and evaluation of a new MRO/M&E software system. However, it can also be used to perform a gap analysis on the existing MRO/M&E software system and often serves as a basis for any other process improvement initiative not directly related to a MRO/M&E software system .

#3: The selection of the system

If the business process mapping is done, the system selection is the “easy” part as the project team is well prepared and have the same goals and understanding of the desired business scenarios. The route of selecting a system can vary but make sure that along this process your processes and system requirements match with the offered MRO/M&E software system. It is of advantage to schedule a demo session in order to get more insights. Document project requirements and procedural changes along the whole process. Establish a solid implementation process and again coordinate with all stakeholders. It is also recommended to arrange support after go-live. 

#4: What makes a successful project

As mentioned earlier, establish a strong project team, supported by senior management and with strict governance. In our opinion, governance and project ownership from all project team members is important. These type of projects usually are better run top down to make sure everybody in the organisation is aware of its importance, impact and way forward. It is important having enthusiastic front runners that promote the upcoming change and having a selection of enthusiastic key users that take their responsibility.

It is of paramount importance that the MRO/M&E software system is implemented by an internal project team that have the delegated knowledge, decision power and time to run the project. It also is the enabler to mitigate any resistance there is against the system.

During each step in the selection process the prime goal is to focus on process improvement and not on having a new MRO/M&E software system . The MRO/M&E software system should support the desired processes and information input and output defined at the start. If opportunities are seen or discovered they need to be reported directly. In the old days, it was usually enough to implement the system and keep it running (at all cost) and people accepted that a second separate paper system was also maintained. Nowadays you should not accept this. Digital technology solutions make the aircraft maintenance operation more efficient, effective and reduce human induced errors. Moreover human resources time is increased to monitor and manage the operation. This data driven operation will run smoother and reduce costs. A holistic approach is key in achieving this.  

In general, the above given guidelines are far from absolute and every selection process at every customer is unique. It requires experience and sound judgement which can pose many challenges to the internal project team. Implementing a MRO/M&E software system remains a complex process. Next to choosing a particular MRO/M&E software system, also an organizational change is involved. This requires experts with many years of experience in IT system implementations in the aviation industry and organizational change management. The experts guide the customer in the analysis of the internal processes, the selection and implementation of the MRO/M&E software system itself, and in the change management of the organization to achieve the maximum benefit out of the time and money invested in this new MRO/M&E software system.