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The IT Communication Triangle--Solving IT Issues 15 2.3 CIOStakeholder Communication The relationships between the CIO and other stakeholder executives are as important as their relationships with the CEO. Their perspectives are represented in Table 2-4. The perspectives discussed in Table 2-4 lead to common communication challenges between the CIO and stakeholder executives. These challenges and suggested solutions are discussed in more detail in the following. 2.3.1 Challenge: IT Terminology Confuses Non-IT People During the research for this primer, the communication issue that brought the strongest reac- tion was that technical experts, specifically CIOs and IT professionals, speak and write in a tech- nical language that is not commonly understood by the CEO or stakeholders. Over 70% of Table 2-4. CIOstakeholder perspectives.
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The IT Communication Triangle--Solving IT Issues 17 addressed early, it is not uncommon for the procured system to have deficiencies relative to the stakeholder's needs. Solution: Collaborate as a Multidisciplinary Team As with any other project at an airport, involving the right people from the start is critical to success. For example, a common and highly successful practice when carrying out building proj- ects is to engage architects and electrical and mechanical engineers from the conceptual stage through construction, which allows a full complement of experts to ensure a high-quality out- come. This approach should also apply to IT projects, whether they are initiated by the CIO or the stakeholder. Although doing this may seem obvious, for a variety of reasons, such as time constraints, schedule demands, and unintentional oversight, it often doesn't happen. Stakeholder-Led Projects Examples of stakeholder-led projects are terminal renovations, security upgrades, and new parking structures. Almost any construction job falls into the category of a stakeholder-led proj- ect. It is rare for these projects to not have an IT component. For example: · Terminal renovations typically include work on networks, telephone systems, IT infrastruc- ture (rooms, cabling, and raceways), flight information display systems, and common use systems, all of which rely on IT design and services. · Security, which is increasingly reliant on computers and electronic storage systems, requires network support, servers, switching systems, cameras, and electronic file storage, all of which rely to some degree on IT. · Parking structures typically require a wide range of IT-based systems, including security and specialized parking management and revenue management systems. Executing the projects in these examples calls for IT to understand and support the facilities' requirements and needs. Also, design and planning must take IT requirements into account from the start. In other words, space, power, environmental conditioning, and implementation of IT upgrades must be part of the project from start to finish. Often in the planning and design phases a dollar allowance is included for IT. An allowance is just an estimate. Failing to identify accurate IT impacts early can lead to rework and cost over- runs down the line. Involving the CIO at the start of the project, similar to the way electrical or mechanical engineers are engaged, helps to clearly define costs. When CIOs are involved throughout the project cycle, they can offer new ideas and suggest technologies that improve the project. Some ideas may result in minor changes to the project, but others may modify the basis of operations of airports and airlines. For example, common use self-service (CUSS) kiosks have not only changed the way in which passengers are ticketed and checked in, but they have also altered the design of airport ticket lobbies. Clearly, IT acts not only as a discipline supporting project development but also as a partner in advancing new approaches that improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Here is a story a CIO told in which the stakeholder relationship started early and worked well: Our airport is currently installing a new inline baggage system in one of the terminals. I have been involved since the beginning, sitting in on every construction and stakeholder meeting. This has proven to be an advantage because IT is kept up to date and is able to quickly move on any IT issues encountered during construction and implementation. CIO-Led Projects Examples of IT-led projects are upgrading the network to a higher speed or implementing a new set of desktop tools for airport staff. While these are typically IT-specific, needing limited input
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18 Information Technology Systems at AirportsA Primer from other departments or the stakeholder, they have the potential to have an effect, positive or negative, on the stakeholder. Effects may include outages in IT systems, a loss of productivity while a new software tool set is introduced, or stakeholder frustration due to a lack of training and prepa- ration. An additional consequence can be estrangement between the CIO and stakeholder. On the other hand, making an early effort to discover user requirements and impacts helps the CIO plan more effectively and address what stakeholders need, whether their needs are a par- ticular set of tools or early training. The CIO may have to shift his or her notions about what should be included in the project and may expend more time and energy, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. An operating department may find that assigning an IT department liaison helps improve information flow, or IT might assign a representative to the business unit. The base requirement is that the lead party engages with the other party early on to improve project communication, foster better progress, and properly allocate funding. Otherwise, the ramifications may include change orders, delays, and cost increases. 2.3.3 Challenge: IT Projects Are Inherently Complex Aviation is one of the most technologically advanced industries. It has been an early and aggressive adopter of new technologies and solutions in an ongoing effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs. As a result, IT is part of almost every aspect of airport operations, from pas- senger experiences such as wayfinding and ticketing to back-of-house operations such as bag- gage handling and catering. This is a change from the time when IT was largely dedicated to management information systems (MIS) and finance. Unintended consequences of introducing more technology have been the increased complex- ity of systems, the requirement for professional IT staff, and the continuing interdependence of stakeholders on the shared resources of IT and information. The IT industry has undergone a major shift: delivering services through an open network architecture that allows the full range of information to be run across a common network, including data, voice, and video services. This change makes the technical side more complex but promises to simplify the stakeholder experience. An open network architecture allows serv- ices to be delivered to a wider range of users through computer workstations without needing special equipment or dedicated private networks. As technology continues to advance, IT system capabilities expand, user expectations increase, and airport business practices change. The overall complexity of IT systems grows and systems become obsolete faster. The lifecycle of IT systems is much shorter than that of buildings or mechanical systems. Promoting an understanding of this quick rate of change helps control the perception that IT systems have high costs. Solution: Stick to IT Principles and Guidelines Complexity is an inherent aspect of IT systems, so simplifying the technology isn't an option because intended benefits would be lost. However, managing, implementing, and maintaining IT projects can be greatly eased from the CEO and stakeholder perspectives by focusing on broader issues such as needs and benefits while keeping in mind that the work and systems involved are anything but simple. Specific ways to deal with complexity include: · Establish IT as a known entity within the airport's operations. The operational requirements of the IT department, including master planning, IT principles, and guidelines, should be pub-
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The IT Communication Triangle--Solving IT Issues 19 lished and available to the CEO and stakeholders. Publicize the IT department's approach and long-term plans for delivering service to avoid surprises down the road. · Practice the concepts presented in this primer, communicate in terms the user understands, and work together as a team. Having regular conversations regarding IT will help acquaint everyone with the technologies involved and the IT professionals delivering them, thereby helping to reduce the mystery. · Clearly state the goals, develop options based on those goals, and weigh the costs and benefits to arrive at the right solution. The specific means of delivering an end result is not the imme- diate concern of the CEO and stakeholder (barring cost and schedule issues), and their focus should be on high-level requirements. The most complex and technologically advanced solu- tion is not always the best one, especially when viewed in light of the costbenefit ratio. In the case of the last item, the following story illustrates the point: Our airport needed a new building management system (BMS) to control lights and temperature. After all the sales pitches were done, we settled on a very advanced system that could tie into our airport resource management system (RMS) and automatically decrease power consumption and HVAC electricity demand based on our actual flight operations. On the surface everyone was enthusiastic about this green IT auto- mation initiative. While there was a significant cost for the BMSRMS integration, everyone felt it would save a lot of money over time. That was, until the night operations manager and one of the RMS guys in IT calculated that given our typical operations schedule, we only got the benefit for about 1 to 2 hours in the middle of the night. And that was when the air conditioner load was the lowest. So in the end we could select a less expensive BMS and save the cost and complexity of the RMS integration. The solution turned out to be both simpler and less expensive, yet we still got all the benefits. 2.3.4 Challenge: IT Security Must Be Maintained Hacking, data theft, and other unethical or illegal acts become a greater threat as more people use IT systems and airports place more sensitive information on them, including financial and badging data. Over the past decade, the need to protect IT has greatly increased--a trend that is likely to grow. Unfortunately, increased security requirements can increase costs and hamper user access to needed information. Data security is a relatively new aspect of the IT industry. In many cases it is added as an upgrade feature to an existing system, which is not always the best solution, or is applied in the wrong manner. The nature of data exchange and communication requires a degree of openness; this is one of the fundamental tenets of the Internet. Restricting access or imposing onerous security procedures without users understanding the reasons leads to violations and a lack of user-community support. Security's effectiveness is difficult to measure unless an event occurs that exposes a flaw or weakness. Also, required security measures are difficult to explain and must be treated as sensi- tive information--restricted only to authorized personnel. All of these factors make IT security a significant challenge for airports. Solution: Centralize and Popularize Good IT Security Practices Security, whether for data or for physical aspects of the airport, is not just a matter of imple- menting systems and equipment. It also requires buy-in and recognition of the need for good security practices. Encryption routines and passenger screening stations are tangible aspects of security, but these systems only work when human beings use them consistently and enforce the right practices and approaches. Explaining security costs to stakeholders and the CEO is an important first step to gaining buy- in. A physical security issue such as a passenger screening breach can be measured in terms of
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20 Information Technology Systems at AirportsA Primer Table 2-5. Terminology translated from airport to IT security. delayed travelers and flights and lost revenues--real numbers that demonstrate the system's value. Similarly, the benefits of IT security can be demonstrated by using real-world examples of lost revenues or increased costs due to breaches, such as the effects of a compromised badging system database or lost access card. By equating security breaches to financial and operational costs, the user can begin to understand the effect of these events on the organization and ulti- mately on each user. Money spent to clean up after a security breach is money that cannot be used on facilities, tools, salaries, and benefits. It is useful to help airport staff and tenants understand the value of IT security in terms they are familiar with, such as those illustrated in Table 2-5. As with airport security, IT security is a continuous operation of maintaining perimeters, authenticating users, watching operations, and retaining data logs. IT security also requires a centralized and specialized group with a charter to maintain vigilant surveillance of the network and applications. This group needs to be involved in the change management of every project to ensure that new holes in the perimeter are not accidentally opened. Typically, the IT department contains the group tasked with data security management. Data security is one compelling reason for consolidating data system operations in the IT group. The IT department needs to partner with stakeholders to maintain an impenetrable data security perimeter that allows robust access to those with authorized access and swift denial of service to any unauthorized access attempts. 2.3.5 Challenge: Training Needs Are Not Fully Met Compared with other airport systems and services (such as power or air conditioning), IT sys- tems appear to have a disproportionately high need for training, which equates to time and cost. Higher training costs for IT systems are understandable when considering the number of users to be trained. Training on a new electrical system, for example, is generally confined to facilities and maintenance staff, whereas both the IT support staff and all users must be trained when a new email system or improved suite of desktop tools is added to users' computers. The training may not be as intense as for a new generator or facility management system, but it covers a much larger group with various levels of IT comfort and proficiency.
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The IT Communication Triangle--Solving IT Issues 21 The value of training is often underestimated, partly because of the lack of understanding of the need, the associated costs, and the CIO's focus falling more on the system than the user. Pro- viding quality training and supporting documentation are key concerns of the stakeholders. Solution: Make Training Accessible and Meaningful to the User There are a number of solutions to this problem. · Employ professional trainers. Because IT staff are not necessarily the best when it comes to teaching a large, diverse group of users how to work with a new system, it's helpful to hire out- side training professionals. · Train a trainer. Training is often a one-time scheduled event, offered when the system is implemented. However, circumstances arise that prevent everyone who needs training from attending. Also, new employees joining the staff after training has been completed need to be trained. Therefore, a means is necessary for providing additional training after scheduled classes have been completed. A solution is training someone to be a trainer. Designating a rep- resentative from the user organization who can offer future training to those in need helps ensure the successful operation of new systems. · Set realistic training-cost expectations. Every IT project will include some level of training (user, operations, maintenance, and administration). The CIO and others should begin to establish the training requirements from the beginning of the project, including cost, number of people, number of classes, and level of detail. Draw upon experience or benchmarking against similar projects or work done at other airports to establish these requirements. · Provide good reference materials. As a standard practice, any new system should be delivered with a set of training manuals and user manuals well before the system goes live. These man- uals should be reviewed by both the CIO and nontechnical users to identify any shortcomings before the material is disseminated. One airport discussed a particularly successful training session: The IT division provided ample training and screen shots of what to expect prior to the cutover. The change from one version of Microsoft Office to another was virtually seamless. 2.3.6 Challenge: Projects Are Not Well Managed There are many sources of program management methodologies and best practices. The Pro- gram Management Institute is a well-respected source. Although most airports have project management procedures, research for this primer indicated that many problems occur because these procedures are not followed. In addition, the assigned project managers are often subject matter experts who are not trained in project management. These two issues combined result in projects with a poorly defined scope that fall behind schedule and run over the budgeted costs. This problem is not specific to IT systems, but the complexities of interdepartmental coordina- tion and budgets make project management for IT systems that much harder. Solution: Establish and Adhere to a Standard Project Management Process The following activities can help ensure the implementation of successful projects: · Take time to organize a repeatable, consistent, and routine project management methodol- ogy. This will enable the CIO, CEO, and stakeholders to execute projects in an even-handed, consistent way. Keeping the process simple and repeatable typically saves the project manager many hours of work. Having all organizations use the same process helps ensure an under- standing of the tasks, achieve a common set of expectations for project managers, and estab- lish a standard reporting methodology for multi-organizational projects. · Use documented and structured review processes to manage projects. If the structured review process does not include an IT component, add it, and include the IT department as a regu- lar participant in reviews and project management processes.
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22 Information Technology Systems at AirportsA Primer · Provide project management training for staff. In situations where IT must both manage proj- ects and operate systems, train selected IT professionals in project management techniques. Establish a means for these IT professionals to be mentored by experienced project managers within the airport organization. An adage says that the three most important rules of project management are to "communi- cate, communicate, and communicate." Proper project management techniques and practices, including regular reporting, achieve this goal, as demonstrated in the following story: The airport hired a consultant to evaluate the airport's existing IT system and to make recommendations for future expansion. One of the items discovered was the lack of redundancy due to the airport's fiber optic backbone not being connected to form a continuous loop. Another issue was that some of the fiber optic ends were not properly terminated. Although these were not a major concern, it was determined they needed correcting prior to a major upgrade of the airport's access control system planned for later in the year. Airport staff and contractors met to determine the best solution to solve these problems. The process was carefully planned, a schedule was developed, and the responsibility of each participant was determined. Coordination was established to allow for material and labor lead time and to have the project completed prior to the upgrade of the access control system. The project was completed on time and without any issues. This just shows how proper planning and coordination can expedite and simplify a project. 2.3.7 Challenge: IT Department Roles and Responsibilities Are Often Unclear In airports today, so many systems include IT aspects that it's a huge challenge to determine roles and responsibilities throughout each phase of the system lifecycle, including which organ- ization takes the lead on funding, planning, implementation, operations, and maintenance as the project progresses. Different approaches can be used depending on the airport or the proj- ect. In some cases the IT department owns, operates, and maintains a system; in others the stake- holder owns and operates the system but IT maintains it. The result is a lack of consistency in executing and operating projects. Lack of clarity in ownership and responsibilities can lead to inadequate budgeting for both capital and maintenance costs. Solution: Clarify Roles and Responsibilities for All Phases of System Lifecycle and Budget Before undertaking an IT project, airport executives must understand and agree on ownership. IT organizations' roles may vary, as evidenced by the following statements from different groups: · The IT role includes researching, acquiring, implementing, and supporting technology. Infra- structure and integration systems are best owned and operated by IT. Application systems are best owned and operated by end users and supported by IT. · IT is a service provider and business partner to stakeholders and/or users. · IT works to help stakeholders enable their business visions and needs. · IT is a technical enablement organization and a provider of a sound technical infrastructure. We enable other teams to use a variety of technical tools to perform their mission. One single, correct solution to IT organization and project ownership probably doesn't exist. Circumstances, department size, and management styles, among other things, dictate how a department runs. However, if the system responsibilities are fractured--i.e., spread across many different organizations or managed by different groups on a project-by-project basis--the air- port management should consider reviewing practices and policies and developing a streamlined process with an identified management team. To assist in this process, the five primary roles that must be undertaken during a system's life- cycle are outlined in the following. These roles may be assigned to many different organizations and tailored to meet the specific needs of the management structure, but they must be clearly assigned, either across the airport departments or on a project basis, to avoid confusion of responsibilities.
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The IT Communication Triangle--Solving IT Issues 23 · System sponsor. This role includes: Championing the system to senior staff. Providing funding for the system during the planning and implementation phases. Developing the project scope and value proposition. · System implementer. This role involves: Project management for the systems implementation phase. Overseeing and developing procurement documentation (either performed in-house or through outside resources). Managing physical installation. Activating and commissioning the system. Managing final project acceptance. · End users. End users are the beneficiaries of the system and make use of the system on a day- to-day basis; they are the best source of information about its functionality and problems. End users should be involved in initial planning, developing system requirements, and developing the concept of operations. · Operations and maintenance funding source. This group provides financial support for operating and maintaining the IT system from acceptance until it is replaced or discontinued, including managing the budget, third-party contracts, and service level agreements. · System administrator. Overall system configuration, operation, and maintenance fall within this role, which may be different from the funding organization. 2.3.8 Challenge: New System Benefits Are Not Measured Once a project is complete, it is not always clear whether the time and effort resulted in achiev- ing the benefits expected. Benefits may fail to be delivered or metrics may not be measured for a variety of reasons, such as: · Benefits were not clearly stated or understood to begin with, or the value of a system was over- estimated. · Inadequate training may cause staff to be uncomfortable with the new system or to not use the new features available. · The new system may cause new business process issues that are either cumbersome or risky, and staff are therefore reluctant to embrace it. To illustrate the issue, consider an upgrade to a maintenance management system with the pur- pose of facilitating web-based entry of work orders and the ability to retrieve and close out work orders in the field. Were the goals achieved, or did lack of training cause the work orders to con- tinue being delivered in paper form? Is the staff still completing and turning in paper records? Solution: Set Measurable Performance Metrics The key to resolving this problem is two-fold: · Clearly state the expected benefits and goals at the start of the project and adjust them if the program changes. · Define performance metrics that can be measured before and after the project. From the example of the maintenance management system cited previously, the goals of the upgrade and some key performance metrics are provided in Table 2-6. Metrics can be measured reliably to gauge performance of the system or process. These met- rics must be implemented and measured before and after system cutover so that improvements can be calculated. One good source of metrics (and the means to take action when they are not met) is a service level agreement (SLA). If an SLA is made part of the vendor agreement, the vendor has strong motivation to collect data and take corrective action to address deficiencies.