easyJet is Europe's leading low-fares airline, operating nearly 200 aircraft on over 550 routes across 30 countries and carrying over 50 million passengers a year.
The core of easyJet's business is the delivery of high-quality, efficient low-cost services based on an Agile business model with IT as the enabler: all of easyJet's management and administration systems can be accessed from secure servers anywhere in the world. Fast, flexible and reliable IT applications, coupled with effective use of the data held within them are absolutely key to helping easyJet stay ahead of the competition in the fast-paced aviation market.
Sopra Steria has worked closely with easyJet for many years providing application development and support services for the organisation's business-critical operating systems.
easyJet's internal Business Intelligence (BI) team engaged Sopra Steria to help meet the increasing information requests, which were being received from across the business, in the timescales required. In some cases the business was supporting its information needs using Excel spreadsheets or Access databases to overcome limitations of the legacy systems.
Valuable information was therefore difficult to consolidate and duplication of effort was occurring - these solutions were being applied in a localised way and information was being developed in silos. As easyJet's success depends in large part on quick turnaround, it was clear that a more strategic way of managing data was needed across the organisation.
Business Intelligence solutions help organisations to 'unlock' the potential of the data held within them and make better and more-informed decisions. As easyJet's Business Intelligence partner of choice since 2008, Sopra Steria was asked to help build a BI strategy for the airline, and is now delivering to this strategy based on an offshore BI delivery model.
Within the context of a major upgrade of the main easyJet operating system the airline was keen to fully leverage the benefit of the identified BI Strategy and the investment in BI technology. The first phase of the strategy focused on a major Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) replacement that will encompass all of the airline's business domains.
"A significant aspect of the EDW development was the Sopra approach to determining the requirements of the business, consisting of a specialist BI Analyst working very closely with the end users, and gaining a clear insight into the business processes and, crucially, the data that supports them. The complexity associated with Crew Rostering meant that business rules had to be precise and that a clear understanding of the data was essential." Senior Business User, easyJet
Sopra Steria began by conducting a BI Maturity Scan to determine easyJet's position in relation to BI: where it is currently, where it wants to be and how it can get there. The scan showed that easyJet did have some BI elements in place, in particular two existing Data Marts that had evolved over time, were relying on old technologies, and that could no longer produce information that was robust enough to deliver further value to the business.
The BI strategy that was subsequently developed focused on replacing the old Data Marts with an architecture based on a new Enterprise Data Warehouse including two new consolidated Data Marts – one for Operations and the other for Commercial information. The recommendation was that the development be undertaken in a domain-led way (one business area at a time) and based on Sopra Steria's cost-effective offshore delivery model.
"Sopra Steria worked alongside easyJet throughout the EDW project development lifecycle through to implementation. Key to project success was their ability to provide high-calibre individuals with the required level of BI expertise." Senior IT Manager, easyJet
Building an Enterprise Data Warehouse
The replacement Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) plays a crucial role in the monitoring of operations and decision support and is helping to drive the easyJet business forward. Many business processes relied on the details held in the old Data Marts and the process of amending and checking reports to ensure that the right outcomes were achieved was a challenge.
The critical area of Crew Rostering was chosen as the first business area for development within the EDW – it is extremely complex as around 7000 crew need to be rostered on an average of over 1000 flights per day out of over 20 bases.
The initial assignment of crew to flights or other duties like training, while taking into account their contracted days off, leave etc. is a very complicated process and is dependent on extremely accurate reporting of the requirements and available crew. This information is key to ensuring that certain aspects such as the legal level of rest required for crew after duties can be scheduled without incurring costs from under utilisation. Without this function, which is supported by the EDW, the costs would be much higher and passenger service might be affected through delays etc.
The new EDW has also given the business full visibility of such aspects as the level of sick leave taken and positioning only days (where crew are travelling between airports to crew their next flight) which needed increased monitoring to improve the efficiency of the crew scheduling.
What did we do?
In joint collaboration with the easyJet BI team a full-lifecycle managed development from requirements to implementation including:
- Introduction of multi-dimensional data cubes for use by end users: data is now grouped in a way that allows the Business to analyse it in an ad hoc way
- Creation of over 20 reports: (many are highly complex) to provide Crew Management and Availability analysis
- Design and build of an Enterprise Data Warehouse: updated with daily deltas of data
- Sopra Steria's Totally Integrated Delivery Model: using resources from across the Group it ensures the right team is in the right place, at the right time and at the right price. Offshore support and maintenance are provided by Sopra Steria India with clear local ownership in the UK
The business-critical details on crew availability provided by the new EDW provide a wealth of information to improve efficiencies in Crew Rostering. Some key business benefits include:
- Access to the right information, at the right time and in the right format: including enhanced reporting capability for crew availability, scheduling, duty analysis and sickness
- Better and faster access to more meaningful data: business analysts now have a centralised, consolidated repository that is refreshed daily and is a credible, accurate and up-to-date source of information; access to ad hoc reporting has been much improved and daily reporting also means questions can be asked about yesterday's performance rather than having to wait until month end
- Significant gains in monitoring crew efficiency and effectiveness: these were previously achieved at a local level where definitions were not universal with different people replicating manual reporting processes. The EDW has vastly improved the reporting of crew sickness, in particular, as well as other aspects of crew performance, for example delays attributable to crew, according to roles, bases, contract types etc. enabling a better understanding of how the business functions and the ability to encourage and reward best performers as well as identify abnormalities. For example, in the past it was impossible to compare the performance of crew based in Rome with crew based in London Gatwick as the characteristics of the bases were so different (size, type etc). Now that the information is cohesive anomalies are identifiable and any resulting issues can be addressed
- Long-term solution: the EDW has been designed to meet the future needs of the easyJet business and is based on the latest technologies and best practice design
- Cost-effective solution: the BI offshore model keeps the costs down
- Freeing up the easyJet BI Team's time: to service other needs of the business
Sopra Steria is currently working on the next phase of the EDW project to include the addition of the following three business domains to the Data Warehouse – Flight Operations, Ground Operations and Finance. Additional phases will see the roll out of the EDW to include further easyJet business domains.