Often neglected – but so important: KPIs in Schedule Management

Key Performance Indicators allow users and managers of schedule departments to measure and manage their targets and goals. But there is still a gap when it comes to this discipline. Read more about this topic in my blog.

KPIs – the alpha and omega for schedule improvements

Good business information is critical to the success of a schedule management department. That is why KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and Reporting are essential for flight scheduling as well. Unfortunately, at many airlines the culture of KPI Monitoring in Schedule Management is still not fully developed or very basic. However, if a schedule management organization does not have a clear picture of its own strengths and weaknesses via KPIs it will not be able to formulate strategies and measures to improve its performance.

 

What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A very good definition from my point of view is the following: Key performance indicators (KPI) are a set of quantifiable measures that a company uses to gauge its performance over time. These metrics are used to determine a company's progress in achieving its strategic and operational goals, and to compare a company's finances and performance against other businesses within its industry.[1]

A more simple way to explain KPI can be found in the Cambridge dictionary: The Key Performance Indicator is one of the most important indicators (= something that shows what a situation is like or how it is changing) that show how well an economy, company, project, etc. is doing, or how well an employee is working.[2]

 

Why identifying and implementing KPIs

The ultimate benefit of key performance indicators in schedule management is the ability to measure the results of your schedule development and schedule change / modification actions, which are often undertaken based on certain assumptions. So what are the benefits in detail?

  • Quantifiable results: KPIs provide actionable information because they are always measurable and quantifiable.
  • Minimize risk of wrong assumptions: To minimize the risk of always acting on the basis of false assumptions, a well-defined set of KPI can help you make more educated guesses. Thus, continuous KPI Monitoring will help you increase or stop activities that create better- or worse-than-expected results and identify relevant fields of improvements.
  • Improved Tracking and Monitoring: Setting key performance indicators lets you track the results of your efforts in ways that help you to make early adjustments and possibly change your strategies, if necessary.
  • Earlier problem spotting: Setting key performance indicators lets you spot problems earlier (with possible root causes) then just “doing operations” and improving it based on gut feelings.
  • Improved decision making: Knowing which schedule changes or modifications are working better than expected and which ones do not allow you to make better future decisions.
  • Alignment toward common objectives: It is often difficult to work towards a common goal among  all schedulers within an organization. KPIs break down complex schedule information into understandable metrics that provide constant feedback on the schedule department´s progress. This keeps everyone moving forward in the same direction.
  • Platform for future strategies: Information gained from KPIs provides a platform for future strategies for schedule management.

 

Which schedule management challenges shall be covered by KPI reports?

KPI Monitoring with schedule departments shall cover two main tasks:

  • Provide transparency and allow performance monitoring
  • Answer flexibly specific management questions

 

Standard reports for full transparency and performance monitoring

To gain full transparency about the performance of the flight scheduling performance and achieve better results, a common, organized and structured approach by implementing recurrent standard KPIs (reports) is the solution. It helps to identify areas of weaknesses and monitors KPI trends over time. Such standard KPIs (reports) shall cover ideally areas, such as:

  • Aircraft (reports on aircraft availability, daily Utilization, etc.)=
  • Gantt (Gantt Chart print outs, seasonal views, etc.)
  • Passenger (reports on change statistics, load factor summaries, etc.)
  • Schedule (flight number lists, flight pairs list, non-operational flight listing, etc.)
  • Station (route lists, route statistics, etc.)
  • Time (reports on block hours and seat distance, idle block- and ground times per sub-fleet, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (tour operator overview, etc.)

To demonstrate the advantages of KPI Monitoring even better, I would like to give you the following two examples:

  • By making a block hours and seat distance comparison, I am able to evaluate the differences in block hours, number of departures, and seat distance per aircraft type between two schedules or schedule scenarios. This will put me into the position to make a good decision about the more productive schedule, which can be evaluated hardly by only looking at the Gantt Charts of each scenario.
  • I might find out with my report about the idle block- and ground times, that a certain sub-fleet has significantly more (block and ground) times than their counterparts. One measure could be to either reschedule the rotations for more productivity or to offer charter flights to increase revenue when idle times allow.

 

Flexible reporting to answer specific management questions

  • “Can you show me the passenger connections in my schedule where PAX connections time is smaller than the Minimum Connecting Time, so we can evaluate how to adjust flight timings in order to match Minimum Connecting Time requirements?”
  • “I need the block hours performance data by aircraft sub-fleet instead of a monthly analysis, now on a quarterly (not like usual monthly) base.”
  • “Please provide me with an aircraft (midnight at ground) count per station for today.”
  • “Please create me an overview about the last schedule changes for the last 10 days.”

These might be examples for very specific questions, which schedule management can be asked by the management to evaluate. However, these questions cannot always be answered with standard KPIs, as these are most of the times largely pre-determined in time (period and frequency), content and even layout.

Therefore, a schedule management business analyst must have options to create flexible reports that are tailored to the airline’s specific reporting needs at that moment. This also includes the easy comparison of two reports (of two schedule scenarios for instance). That´s why BI and reporting tools on the market should be staffed as well with flexible reporting features to answer specific questions as listed above.

 

Summary: KPIs are critical to the success of schedule management departments

KPIs allow users and managers of schedule departments to measure and manage their targets and goals. They keep the right people within an organization up-to-date with business KPI performance. Simple or standard KPIs help to track project performance and report to them management. Additionally, flexible reporting options are the solution to answer more complex or very specific questions.

If you look for support to identify or implement KPIs in schedule management, please feel free to contact me here. Your general feedback is also highly appreciated.

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