To provide instant insight for decision-making, the ARFF division wanted to accelerate reporting cycles and make safety and compliance data available to all stations and management on a daily basis.
Working with InfoCapital, ARFF replaced its spreadsheet-based reports with an IBM Analytics solution that unifies data from seven systems and automatically generates daily reports and scorecards.
- 500+ person-days saved per year by automating reporting processes
- Insight into operational data now delivered daily, not 15 days after month-end
- Smarter decision-making supports an efficient and effective ARFF service
Business challenge story
Gaining a holistic view of operations
To operate successfully in a strictly regulated industry – and more importantly, to keep staff and passengers at Australia’s airports safe – Airservices Australia’s ARFF division must achieve a level of responsiveness and operational efficiency that many other organizations would find extremely challenging.
“InfoCapital were great at challenging our assumptions and explaining how IBM Analytics could help us accomplish our goals much more efficiently.”
—Megan Brennan, Planning and Reporting Manager, Airservices Australia
Liza Pegorer, Manager of ARFF Business Strategy and Performance, explains: “We need to be able to respond to an incident in certain parts of the airport movement area within the regulated response time of the initial call. To make sure we’re complying with this requirement, we track a lot of data about incidents and response times, as well as data on aircraft movements, personnel availability, safety incidents, and so on.”
However, while ARFF had a robust set of systems for capturing and managing all this operational data, it lacked an easy way to get oversight of all its data at once.
Megan Brennan, Planning and Reporting Manager, comments: “We have seven main systems, each of which manages a different aspect of our operations. While we could see what was happening in each system individually, it was difficult to bring everything together. We realized that if we could gain the ability to correlate different data sets, it would mean that we could discover, for example, what impact the number of emergency responses has on WHS incidents, and how our financial performance relates to operational performance.”
The only regular method of sharing operational data with fire station managers and senior leaders was a monthly reporting pack, which took up to 15 working days to assemble after each month-end.
Meanwhile, if fire station managers or analysts wanted to gain an overview for themselves, they had to pull data together manually from the seven systems, and consolidate it in spreadsheets. The organization estimated that each fire station manager was spending up to two days per month on this kind of manual reporting activity.
Dianne Anderson, Manager, Corporate Information Systems – Solutions Delivery, adds: “When different parts of the business are doing their own analyses, you run into issues regarding data governance and data quality. We wanted to build a central analytics system that would act as a single source of truth for the whole organization.”
Building a fully automated analytics platform
Following a comprehensive procurement exercise, the ARFF team selected a suite of IBM Analytics solutions at the heart of its new business intelligence platform. To help its IT team deliver the new platform, the organization chose InfoCapital, an IBM Business Partner that specializes in data warehousing and analytics solutions.
“We have a very strong relationship with InfoCapital,” comments Liza Pegorer. “They were embedded in our team for the duration of the project, and having them on-site made them feel like true partners.”
Megan Brennan adds: “One of the issues with moving from a spreadsheet-based reporting process to an enterprise-class analytics solution was that at the start of the project we did not know what the full capability set of an IBM solution could be. InfoCapital were great at challenging our assumptions and explaining how IBM Analytics could help us accomplish our goals much more efficiently.”
The solution uses IBM InfoSphere® Information Server to extract, transform and load data from ARFF’s seven operational systems into a central data warehouse, which is updated on a daily basis. The data is mapped against the organizational hierarchy held in the company’s ERP system, which makes it easy to manage and control access to the data, and ensure that each user can see the information that is most relevant to their own department and role.
IBM Cognos® TM1® provides a scorecarding engine that uses the data to calculate around 30 key performance indicators (KPIs), and provide a drill-down capability that allows users to click through from the top-level figures to the departments, teams, and even individual members of staff who contribute to the results.
For example, if a compliance KPI is lower than usual because some documentation hasn’t been logged in the compliance system yet, managers can quickly identify which pieces of documentation are missing or overdue for review, and which departments are involved. The system also provides a write-back capability to enable staff to comment on the data – for example, describing the action they are planning to take to fix a problem, or requesting additional support.
Finally, IBM Cognos Business Intelligence provides custom reports, which can be generated with a few mouse-clicks whenever they are required. It also provides ad hoc analysis tools to help the organization’s analysts query data quickly and respond to specific one-off reporting tasks much more rapidly than ever before.
Dianne Anderson says: “The whole system is now automated from end to end: the data flows from the source systems to the final output without any human intervention. This not only saves a huge amount of manual work for business analysts; it also provides robust data governance and a single version of the truth, which means the IT team doesn’t need to spend time answering questions about data quality.”
Benefits in detail header
Instant insight and significant time-savings
Although the new solution has only been online for a few months, it has already begun to transform the way ARFF operates. Instead of taking a purely retrospective view of its performance at the end of each month, the organization now receives timely, accurate insight into each day’s operations. This enables fire station managers to manage their time more effectively and take action as soon as problems arise.
“Instead of piecing together data from all our different systems and trying to get an idea of how things are going, our managers now have all the most important performance metrics at their fingertips every day,” says Megan Brennan.
Liza Pegorer adds: “Safety and compliance are our top priority, but we also have a responsibility to operate cost-effectively and provide the best value for the customer. IBM Analytics helps us allocate our resources where they’re really needed, so we can meet all of our compliance obligations and provide a first-class service while still keeping our operations lean and efficient.”
In fact, the solution itself makes a significant contribution to these cost-efficiency objectives. By eliminating the need for each of the 26 fire station managers to spend two days each month on analyzing data, it saves more than 500 person-days per year.
Moreover, the analysts who used to spend 15 working days at the end of each month compiling the monthly reporting packs can now focus on much more valuable analysis tasks, answering questions for senior management and investigating ways to make the organization even more efficient.
Dianne Anderson comments: “This project is proving to the business that we are capable of extracting much more value from our operational data than we’ve ever done before. As a result, the appetite for analytics is growing, and we’re keen to invest in new projects to extend our capabilities further.”
ARFF would now like to consider a second phase of the project, which could include the introduction of predictive capabilities to further enhance operational efficiencies. The direction that IBM is taking with the next generation of Cognos Analytics is seen as an exciting prospect for the next stage in ARFF’s analytics journey.
About Airservices Australia
Airservices Australia provides Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) services at 26 of Australia’s busiest airports. Responding to approximately 6,700 aircraft and airport emergency assistance requests nationally per year, its ARFF service is one of the world’s largest, with more than 900 operational and support personnel based around Australia.
- IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence
- IBM Cognos TM1®
- IBM InfoSphere® Information Server
Take the next step
InfoCapital is an IBM Advanced Business Partner based in Canberra, Australia. With expertise in software, services, support and custom education on IBM Analytics technologies, InfoCapital focuses on delivering business value with IBM Cognos, SPSS, InfoSphere and PureData technologies. Collectively, InfoCapital consultants have delivered successful outcomes for more than 80 organizations in the Australia and Asia Pacific region.
IBM Analytics offers one of the world’s deepest and broadest analytics platform, domain and industry solutions that deliver new value to businesses, governments and individuals. For more information about how IBM Analytics helps to transform industries and professions with data, visit ibm.com/analytics. Follow us on Twitter at @IBMAnalytics, on our blog at ibmbigdatahub.com and join the conversation #IBMAnalytics.
Originally published by IBM. The original article can be found at Airservices Australia and InfoCapital Case Study.