Office 2007 takes off for CAA, after successful trial

Early adopter is happy with the results

Microsoft Office 2007 has been deployed across the whole of the Civil Aviation Authority’s operation, following a four month trial earlier this year, says Arthur Devitt, the CAA’s CIO.

The CAA sets civil aviation safety and security standards, and monitors adherence to those standards. The organisation, which has around 200 staff, also carries out aviation accident and incident investigations.

“We were in a transition phase, looking for a new architecture,” says Devitt. “We heard about some of the new features in Office 2007 and, essentially, they met a lot of the requirements we had for moving our existing line-of-business system into a new environment.”

Devitt says that Office 2007 as an application became a prerequisite if the organisation was to move ahead with some software development that it had under way and implementing Office 2007 for this programme meant it had to be deployed across the organisation.

“The primary driver for us was to re-develop a part of a line-of-business application — a surveillance system,” he says.

The surveillance system is used to oversee all civil aviation within New Zealand, including airline and air transport organisations and individuals who fly, he says.

The system collects and manages information on aviation community activities, leveraging InfoPath and SharePoint Portal server, he says.

“We find the [Office 2007] interface easier for our users to pick up [than Office 2003]. It is very intuitive and users don’t have to spend a lot of time in training sessions,” he says.

“We deployed with a two-hour training session for all of our users and that was adequate.”

Most of the training is done online, he says.

But changing environments brought some challenges, too. One of them was getting high-end users to buy into the new interface, says Devitt.

“The people that knew everything about Office 2003 became a lot more frustrated [with the new interface] than some of our novice users,” he says. “But, within two weeks the level of helpdesk calls [decreased] markedly, because people were getting used to the intuitive interface.”

A typical CAA user would be an auditor or inspector who uses Office for, say, authoring reports in Word through to using the new surveillance application that allows staff to undertake surveillance processes, says Devitt.

CAA has a mature, predominantly male workforce that specialises in a number of aviation-specific areas, says Devitt. Their average age is 52 and a lot of the staff are on their second career.

“[Many] have had a career already in aviation and are now coming into the regulatory environment to try and give something back from a safety perspective,” he says.

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