Few businesses face greater operational challenges than a global airline. Managing everything from ticket billings and business partnerships to flights, maintenance and financial modeling is a daunting task.
“There is a need to manage huge volumes of data—both upstream and downstream from our ERP system,” says Eric Pona, technology manager for enterprise systems at Qantas Airways Limited, which operates more than 200 aircraft spanning Australia and around the world. “Our ongoing challenges have always revolved around a rather complex ERP implementation. It has to handle heavy batch-processing loads, particularly at night, and, at the same time, continue to support business tasks and our worldwide operations.”
Adding to the challenges: The ERP system operates in a highly integrated landscape with numerous interfaces—something that requires customization and oversight. “In the past, a lot of effort and resources were allocated to the monitoring required to keep the system functioning effectively,” Pona recalls.
The airline recognized a need to upgrade from Oracle E-Business Suite 11i to Release 12. However, Qantas had a number of options in terms of how it would roll out the upgrade and manage the system going forward.
“We wanted to avoid a complete revamp of the application and its environment, and steer away from a potentially huge change management program that could involve thousands of users across the organization,” he explains adds.
Leverage, Simplify, Consolidate
Qantas turned to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to guide the airline through the transformation. Together, they established three key goals:
- Leverage new functionality in R12 to boost IT and business agility, flexibility and performance, while improving the user experience.
- Simplify the platform.
- Consolidate IT services under a single provider in order to boost the quality of service (QoS) and implement a usage-based billing model.
However, this introduced a new challenge: The agreed-upon approach involved moving all existing data attached to the project to a private data center that TCS would manage.
“TCS would take accountability for the entire vertical stack,” Pona explains. “This was a huge opportunity to streamline and improve performance, but it also represented a certain amount of risk and uncertainty, because it wasn’t something we had ever done before with our financial data.”
The ERP upgrade, which included the migration to TCS, began in July 2012 and took nearly two years to complete. Qantas went live with the new enterprise suite in April 2014, on-schedule and on-budget.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform is hosted by Macquarie Telecom (MT) as a private cloud. It consolidates all of the airline’s Oracle ERP modules: financials, procurement, projects, supply chain and human resources.
Pona says that the initiative has helped Qantas meet goals and expectations. The platform also reduces the company’s total cost of ownership, streamlines vendor management, dramatically decreases IT administration by eliminating the need to oversee upgrades and patches, and delivers a highly agile and flexible platform with a single point of contact.
“As the organization evolves and restructures, we require technology that shifts end users from a set of applications or modules to an integrated IT services environment,” he explains. “The private cloud-based platform is a totally new way for Qantas to operate. It’s more fluid, more integrated and more secure than anything we have done in the past.”