Low-cost air travel has been a boon for Monarch Aircraft Engineering Ltd (MAEL). Not only is it now responsible for the integrity of the 33 aircraft belonging to its sister company in the Monarch Group, Monarch Airlines, but it has taken on the maintenance of 100 aircraft belonging to other carriers. And it sees no end to that growth in demand for outsourced maintenance services.
However, to get to that position, MAEL had to do some heavy maintenance on its own structures. Calling in consultancy DAV Management to guide it, the engineering company kicked off a comprehensive overhaul of its core maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) systems and processes.
“The engineers were using green-screen technology with limited support, and processes were informal and inconsistent,” says DAV managing director Charlie Mayes. “Data [on different aircraft jobs] was stored on spreadsheets or hard-copy cards, and often you’d find multiple versions of the truth.”
A lack of clear processes meant there were single points of failure if a critical staff member was sick or away on holiday. “It could be a case of getting someone out of bed to make sure an aircraft had had done to it what needed to be done,” says Mayes.
The project began as a “classic IT product procurement”, Mayes explains. MAEL initially viewed the technical acquisition as an IT project, but, under DAV’s guidance, it became acutely aware that it was undertaking nothing short of a business transformation project.
And that involved the acceptance of a key principle: that the “business must own and lead the IT project, and not let IT ‘do it to them’”, Mayes says. “The IT team was extremely capable, but ownership and governance from management was initially lacking and the stakeholder community was not formally involved – they just knew a new system was going in.”
As part of the effort to move beyond that situation, DAV encouraged MAEL managers to map existing business processes. “That resulted in some very interesting discussions,” Mayes says. “People were saying things like ‘Do you really do that? We do that too’ and ‘We do that because you don’t do it’. The problem was that they did something and then threw it over the wall to the next department to deal with.”
The result of the strategy was that both IT and business became deeply involved in the project, and buy-in emerged at all levels. “We sent 40 to 50 people off to workshops. People became really enthused and excited about what [the new system] could do – it almost became a viral campaign across the business,” Mayes says.
“Now MAEL still has the can-do attitude it has always had, but the organisation is aligned to [processes] across departments. There is a quality end-to-end MRO system, one real-time database with a single version of the truth on every aircraft, and people that are cross-skilled and open to change.
“That is quite a contrast to when we started in 2004,” Mayes says.