Air NZ sets out to simplify processes

Air New Zealand is getting to know SeeBeyond's business process management (BPM) software after committing to a six-figure implementation.

Air New Zealand is getting to know SeeBeyond’s business process management (BPM) software after committing to a six-figure implementation.

The airline is using the software to integrate application systems and map its processes to improve and simplify them.

BPM software has few users in New Zealand (see Taking care of business), but analysts say it is a development whose time has come.

Acting CIO Andrew Care (pictured) says the airline has an historical problem of growing multiple computer systems which need hundreds of interfaces built between them so they can talk to each other.

Air New Zealand uses a variety of reservation systems, ancilliary applications for processes like departure control, Oracle financials, SAP for engineering, PeopleSoft for HR and recruitment and a suite of Sabre products for operations, such as flight schedules. It also uses revenue systems written in XML and run offshore by Navitaire.

Such a “spaghetti” of interfaces creates large overheads in development and becomes expensive to maintain.

The SeeBeyond system will act as middleware, integrating the applications and getting rid of the multiplicity of interfaces, says Care. Its system mapping function will be used to study whether systems can be improved further.

“This is the enabler, not the fix. We still have to think about processes,” Care says. “At the end of the day, it does not absolve anyone as to what the processes should be. This [software] might make these processes run faster or be easier to support, [but it does not tell us] that they are the right processes.”

Care says a decision to buy the software was made a year ago, with SeeBeyond chosen in place of WebMethods in August. Other firms in the running were Microsoft and IBM’s CrossWorlds product.

Testing is still under way but the software should be working by Christmas. “So far, so good,” is Care’s initial comment.

Air New Zealand is also still testing Linux as part of changes to its operations that saw the introduction of revamped meal-less Express domestic flights, and new reliance on selling tickets via the web. It has revamped its website to run WebSphere on Linux on Intel hardware.

The changes also mean customers can use kiosks at airports for self check-in. An Irish middleware platform called Runway has been installed to act as an object message broker. As Air New Zealand adds new systems, they can be connected to the booking system with few changes, Care says. He says the Linux servers are testing adequately and web platform interfaces are “running fine”.

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