Frontier Flies on Work-Management Software

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2009-06-24 Print this article Print

The airline uses collaborative work-management software to navigate through turbulent times.

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Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc., operator of Frontier Airlines, has had to navigate through turbulent times recently: a bankruptcy filing in 2008, depressed domestic travel, and layoffs. To help manage operations during these challenges, the Denver, Colo., company is relying on collaboration software that it procures via the software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model.

The airline is using SaaS collaborative work management software from Seattle-based Daptiv Inc. to prioritize and track initiatives that help it manage through the difficult times.The application enables better collaboration across departments, so Frontier can oversee essential projects at a time when its workforce is smaller because of layoffs.

Frontier uses the Daptiv software to manage day-to-day projects, providing visibility and accountability across functions and roles in areas such as finance, human resources, flight and station operations, marketing, maintenance and engineering, and inflight services.The software has helped Frontier—the second largest carrier out of Denver International Airport, with an average of 350 daily departures and arrivals—juggle key projects despite layoffs of IT staff.

About 100 full-time employees in IT manage the network, servers, applications and help desk activities that support the company’s operations. Many technology initiatives are driven by departments such as finance, human resources and maintenance and engineering and supported by IT, but with no centralized oversight.

Prior to the implementation of the work management software, senior managers were concerned that IT performance, in light of the reduced staff, was affecting the status of projects. Work demand was far exceeding capacity. In addition, there was disorder with projects due to a lack of accountability, visibility and structure.

Managers weren’t sure if resources were being optimized and if the right projects were being prioritized.The Frontier IT management team realized they had “little control or visibility into what were the true priorities, andwhat the resources were working on,” says CIO Gerry Coady.

In early 2007, the company determined that it needed to alter processes, technology and personnel to better prioritize IT projects. It created a Project Management Office (PMO) to take responsibility for creating a structure to standardize project management processes and facilitate IT project portfolio management.

“We put several formal processes in place to help structure the PMO,” Coady says. “That includes how projects get into the pipeline, how they get weighted and prioritized and more importantly, how they get funded and resourced. All projects that require any IT resource must go through this process.”

One key aspect of prioritizing IT projects was to identify and implement a portfolio management tool that would provide a single source of information on all projects. Frontier evaluated products from a number of vendors, and with help from a local consulting company, selected Daptiv’s offering on the basis of cost, implementation speed and functionality.

Another key factor was that Daptiv offered its software as a service, providing cost benefits that were attractive to a company looking to control expenses. Coady, who joined Frontier as CIO in May 2007, and Tom Hortman, PMO manager, reviewed all the proposals and decided that SaaS “was the fast-track to getting up and running, as well as being most affordable for us a company,” Coady says.

Managers now use the software, called Daptiv PPM, on a weekly basis to monitor high priority, in-progress projects. Daptiv PPM’s tasks and time-sheet functionality help manage about 10,000 actual hours of effort per month applied to different tasks.

Among the key early benefits of the work management software was a vastly streamlined project status report process, giving the company immediate insights into costs and progress across the enterprise. The company now has much greater visibility into IT projects and portfolios.

“The main benefit was transparency and control over what people worked on,” Coady says. “Before [deploying the software], the projects and resources were managed via spreadsheets, and a lot of time and resources went into ‘spreadsheet management’”, which was frustrating to business users. The workforce management application gave company managers not only visibility into projects being worked on, but a true enterprise view of work in progress, he says.

“From an IT perspective, we can now focus on the executive approved priorities, and focus on execution rather than spreadsheet management,” Coady says.


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