Austrian Airlines’ off-the-shelf PPM creates efficiencies

Austrian Airlines moved to packaged Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software when its highly-bespoke system could no longer cope

Austrian Airlines moved to packaged Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software from Compuware/Changepoint when its bespoke system could no longer cope with the volume of IT and business projects it faced.

In 1997, the airline was using Excel spreadsheets to manage projects. In 2002, it moved to a bespoke XML-based system designed specifically for it but when that no longer met the requirement, it went to market in 2009.

It wanted a holistic view of projects and a user-friendly interface that could be interpreted by project managers and the IT department.

Austrian Airlines has 74 aircraft – 10 of which are for long-haul flights – and runs commercial flights to 130 destinations in 66 countries every day. It has 6,000 staff, including 120 in IT, none of which is outsourced. 

Its turnover is over €2bn.

Ulrich Aigner, director of corporate project management, at Austrian Airlines, said that by 2009 this system was no longer fit for purpose.  

“We had a system, but it had a lot of failures. For example, the new program wasn’t able to be managed internally. We also wanted to implement resource management and enhance PPM, so we had to change to a new tool.”

Today, Austrian Airlines usually has about 90 projects ongoing at any time, with 80% of these IT. These range from migrating customer-facing systems, virtualising servers, upgrading memory, and conceptualising the use of tablets by on-board staff.

The IT department at Austrian Airlines faced a growing queue of major IT initiatives. The largest projects involved upgrading the airline’s systems for booking flights and checking in passengers, a system that affects millions of users. This migration was initiated when the system provided by Lufthansa was at the end of its life. The project is expected to be finished next year. It has already migrated its ticketing and inventory systems.

In 2009, Austrian Airlines went to the market to find a replacement. It wanted a system from a major supplier that would encompass the whole life-project cycle. It also wanted it to be intuitive enough to be handled by project managers and the PMO, require minimal administration and provide a modern graphical user interface (GUI). It is now in the early stages of using Changepoint’s PPM.

Aigner said the company now has a better overview of all the projects going on and can better manage the resources available. 

“The biggest challenge for us was getting a holistic view of out projects and understanding interdependencies,” he said.

“The old tool was XML-based so the usability was very limited,” said Aigner. “With Changepoint, we plan to compare projects with each other using bubble charts, new parameters and other features. Changepoint can make a big improvement in our decision-making process.”

The latest figures from Gartner indicate that the PPM market grew by 11% last year, compared with 2011, reaching a global value of $1.65bn with the major suppliers continuing to expand their portfolios and move into emerging markets.

Gartner also noted that as well as customers using PPM to help drive growth, there was also more of a focus from suppliers to develop different ways of delivering products, with SaaS [software-as-a-service] becoming a popular option.

"In 2012, the PPM software market had strong growth for the third consecutive year despite, or perhaps because of, slow economic growth, tight IT budgets and merger and acquisition activity," said Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner.



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