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The Power of Personalized & Targeted Distribution for WestJet Engineers
Author: James Homeniuk, manager of Technical Standards and Audit Compliance with Lyndsay Steffler, Analyst, Technical Standards and Audit; both at WestJetSubscribe
James Homeniuk, Manager of Technical Standards and Audit Compliance with Lyndsay Steffler, Analyst, Technical Standards and Audit, share WestJet’s switch to a digital content management solution.
WestJet is a Canadian airline operating a large domestic and international network with a fleet of Boeing 737, 767 and 787 types as well as Bombardier Q400 aircraft. This is the story of how the airline realized it needed to update its documentation management and then went about the process of implementing that update.
COMPLEX OPERATIONS & CUMBERSOME PROCESSES DECREASE PRODUCTIVITY
WestJet has a complex operation. The Tech Ops team supports three airlines under the WestJet organization with policies and procedures specific to different fleet types. This makes the documentation revision process, and the documents themselves, complex and hard to navigate. As a result, there were two problems to solve:
- One: find a way to streamline the publication, approval, and distribution processes;
- Two: find a way to provide the Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs) with easier access to their documentation as well as navigation tools allowing them to locate specific information.
The publication and distribution process was slowed down by procedures that had been created to support a paper-based environment. For example, revision requests were received on a paper form and before a change could be authored, a physical signature was required from multiple individuals. Once the changes were incorporated, the content had to be reviewed and approved – again by multiple stakeholders. These physical processes made record keeping very complex and audits even more difficult. Once an update had been published, it was very challenging to identify and report who had complied with the update and who had not. So, to complete the distribution process, the read-and-sign method (which is the maintenance of compliance) needed to be more efficient.
Upon publication, accessing information was just as challenging due to the physical distance between the aircraft and a desktop workstation. Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs) had to leave the aircraft (their point of work) and walk to the desktop every time they needed to reference information. In addition, it was a struggle to navigate these documents to find the required information due to the basic filter and search features from within a PDF. AMEs needed to be able to access relevant information without spending any extra time remembering where something was or scrolling endlessly to search.
These challenges were affecting the operation in extended turn times and it was obvious that a different approach needed to be taken.
SIMPLIFICATION AND AUTOMATION STREAMLINE CONTENT USE AND CREATION
The first step was to set up electronic forms and workflows. These automated workflows send email notifications to each person identified along the process when it’s their turn to review or approve a content update. This allowed for digital tracing of requests, approvals, and feedback from content stakeholders. The implementation of this solution alone has drastically sped up publication process and removed paper from the equation.
Once workflows were in place, the next step was to organize the content for a better user experience. Document libraries were customized, based on collections so users could only see the documents that applied to them. AMEs were provided with an iPad with the Comply365 app installed. The app has been really easy to use and AMEs have the resources they need at their point of work, which means, walking to and from desktop workstations is no longer required. In addition, the Comply365 app has provided the ability to target individual user groups with compliance notifications. Now the AMEs can receive their communications faster, and tracking compliance is no longer a challenge as it is automated.
Through the utilization of ProAuthor, Comply365’s end-to-end document management solution, all documentation is being transitioned to an HTML output. This will allow all published material to be even more compatible with mobile devices. Once content has been transitioned, users will be able to filter it based on the specific fleet, model variance, or even equipment such as ‘type of engine’. They’ll also be able to search for key terms across the entire library rather than just the text itself in a single document. To continue to optimize the tool, communication catalogs are being developed with HTML filter and search capability to house documents such as bulletins. These features are going to help the Tech Ops team to further personalize their own user experience and provide them with better support while they’re on the job.
PERSONALIZED & TARGETED DISTRIBUTION INCREASES EFFICIENCY, SAFETY & COMPLIANCE ACROSS THE OPERATION
As a result of these changes and the implementation, across the board, efficiency has increased. Content approvals are faster and easier; the rate of compliance has improved and, due to targeted distribution, everyone is able to navigate content faster without struggle. Overall, the downtime for aircraft has decreased and that is a huge value gained for the operation. Provisionally, because there’s less paper and checking to do, there is more time to focus on revisions and continue process refinement while preparing content for the full roll-out.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
To further illustrate this case study and tie it to the real-life priorities of users, we have included a few actual questions that were asked of James and Lyndsay, during a recent webinar about the implementation, with their responses.
Q. What feedback have you had from the engineers?
A. That’s a good question. The feedback that we’ve had from the engineers since we’ve launched DCM, over a year ago now, has been positive. When we started, we hosted a brief demonstration, and now, they support themselves quite easily on- or off-line; any time of the day or night. Once they understood the Comply365 features that allow them to navigate quicker and find the content that they are looking for, intrinsically it took over. They find things a lot faster and are now asking for more of the content that we haven’t yet transitioned.
Q. What was the implementation like?
A. The implementation at WestJet has been really successful. We did have to reverse engineer and heavily analyze our processes prior to adopting Comply365, but the guidance that the Comply365 organization provided was awesome and that was really important to us. Overall, we’ve found it very easy to transition our content into the Comply365 product, plus we’ve been able to distribute it very quickly and effectively to our front-line users (and we continue to receive positive feedback).
Q. Are you planning to expand ProAuthor to Flight Ops and, if so, why?
A. Actually, at WestJet our flight ops team introduced the EFB product from Comply365 more than three-years ago. Once we saw the opportunity to change how we distributed content to front-line users (in our case, engineers) we wanted the opportunity to begin managing things differently. Since then, we’ve led the charge and introduced the ProAuthor product from Comply365. Now that Tech Ops has begun to utilize ProAuthor to author in XML and create the HTML output, we have become the team driving the change. The intention is to expand to Flight Ops and our cabin crew teams as they’re interested in following this same path and using the platform as we’ve structured it out.
James Homeniuk, manager of Technical Standards and Audit Compliance
James has been in the airline industry for more than twenty years starting as an aircraft maintenance engineer, moving on to a maintenance supervisor and now currently as a lead. All of those years working on aircraft maintenance and repairs prepared James for his current role as a manager of technical standards and compliance. Understanding the challenges of the job has given James a unique perspective on how we can best equip our aircraft maintenance engineers through documentation and ensure they and the operation maintain compliance.
Lindsay Steffler, Analyst, Technical Standards and Audit
In all the years that Lindsay has been in the airline industry, she has written and worked with technical publications as well as many technical writers before taking on her current role as technical standards and audit analyst. She is also all too familiar with the challenges that technical publications departments face and how to make the most of the work they do for the airline.
In 1996, WestJet started with three aircraft and five destinations. Today, there are three different aircraft types (Boeing 737, 767 and 787 models plus Bombardier Q400) in a 150 plus strong fleet flying more than 22 million guests a year to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, The Caribbean and Europe.
Comply365 helps leverage digital content and technology for aviation manuals and more. The company provides a secure enterprise platform with a suite of mobile adaptive apps, creating a digital workplace giving users the agility, speed and intelligence they need to gain a competitive edge. Comply365 solutions, including software for aviation manuals, help companies streamline manual, time-consuming processes and make compliance and training easy.