Running a successful airline like JetBlue takes precision, timing, and communication. When the airline's IT department struggled with a lack of consistency and visibility into its project tracking and delivery, JetBlue turned to Intuit QuickBase. Moving from a spreadsheet and email system to QuickBase has alleviated project bottlenecks and improved life for IT and business users alike.
- Inconsistent, decentralized IT project management slow response times and IT bottlenecks
- No formalized project delivery structure to support a rapidly growing department
- Frustrating, manual-based project tracking and status reporting
- No consistent or centralized repository for capturing and tracking changes to projects
- Inability to easily, collaborate with external JetBlue partners
- Familiar, cost effective solution to quickly address IT project management issues
- Great home base for teams to see, share and update project info
- Clear and timely communication of critical information with automated reporting features
- Seven QuickBase applications and two prototypes up and running in only three months
- Readily accepted and widely adopted solutions by JetBlue business users
- Self-service reporting for business users
- An effective way to tackle high-value back-burner issues
- IT bottleneck has been alleviated business users now see IT as a friend
- No longer managing projects in Microsoft Word, e-mail, or spreadsheets
The optimal use of technology is critical to the success of airline companies today. Whether it is automated airline reservations, flight operations, telecommunications, Web site, maintenance, check-in kiosks or in-flight entertainment the performance, availability, and reliability of these systems are critically important for an airline to operate and compete effectively.
Continually aiming to improve its strength in technology, JetBlue has, over the past two years, optimized its systems and exponentially expanded its IT department to meet the challenge. As it realigned and grew, however, gaps emerged in how it managed its dozens of active projects.
"We lacked some of the central visibility we needed into the various projects and teams," said Alora Chistiakoff, IT manager for IT Revenue. "That was undermining our ability to give the maximum value for our IT spend. We didn't have consolidated views of how we were spending our time. We were tracking different data and metrics in different styles and schedules. Without that consistency, we were attempting to roll that up manually in Microsoft Word and through e-mail which was laborious, painful, and wasteful."
"We wanted consistency in IT project governance for both IT and the business users we serve so that we could be more responsive and manage expectations far better. That also applied to external partners we work with for services such as flight-status notification."
Seeking a solution to quickly and efficiently address JetBlue's IT project-management issues, Tiffany Miley-Parks, IT System Manager, returned to a solution she'd used in the past knowing that the customizable business applications from Intuit QuickBase were just what JetBlue needed. "I was familiar with and had successfully used QuickBase previously," she said. "We signed up for a trial, started with the ready-made Project Manager Plus application and quickly concluded that it was by far the fastest, most cost-effective and flexible solution available. There was nothing to build, nothing to install, no hardware to purchase, no resources to allocate. QuickBase took us off the hook for long-term management, scalability, and support."
The QuickBase Project Manager Plus application gives JetBlue a home base on the Web where their teams can see, share, and update every detail of their projects whether they're working across the office or across the country. That means simple, clear, up-to-the-minute communication: no more e-mailed spreadsheets or outdated documents.
"We were able to customize the application's weekly status report table so that every week, our project managers can update any activity for that week and expected activity for the following week," said Chistiakoff. "Now that they add in the current 'project health' based on where it all stands, we can track week-over-week progress more easily. And we've recently added a change log, so that we can maintain a single repository about the evolution of the project over time."
JetBlue IT has more than 70 active IT projects of varying complexity as well as another three dozen on hold or awaiting a start date. Today, the user base for one of our QuickBase applications is 80 people primarily located at the company's two IT facilities in Forest Hills, N.Y. and Salt Lake City. JetBlue business partners have also been given access to our QuickBase applications to help ensure that joint developments for projects, like flight-status notifications and web site re-design efforts are synchronized and aligned. Most of our users will use QuickBase for initial project setup, adding tasks, issues and risks, change log entries and weekly status reports, which is the most-used aspect of the system.
"Adoption of this system was really fast," said Chistiakoff. "Once our users saw how straightforward it was to use, any resistance they may have had just melted. Our ability to customize has also played a big role here. If I receive feedback from a project manager about seeing certain fields in certain ways, I can make those changes immediately. Or better yet, we can even set permissions to enable them to make changes themselves giving them the ability to create personalized reports. That has really led to the rapid, widespread adoption we've seen with QuickBase."
According to Chistiakoff, the popularity of QuickBase extends well outside of the IT domain. "The people who are the happiest are the business users," she said. "They receive 'push' reports on a regularly scheduled basis that show the status of their projects being worked on by IT. They don't have to hunt down a manager to get a status. Instead, they can get an update in QuickBase, which is much more efficient and valuable."
JetBlue is leveraging QuickBase in other areas of the company as well. "QuickBase expands our repertoire of options," Chistiakoff said. "Historically, we had built many of these applications ourselves and that forced us to work on the larger projects. So the smaller groups, who tend to have smaller projects, got overrun when it came to IT priorities. Now, using the QuickBase platform, we are able to rapidly create and deploy QuickBase applications that satisfy our users needs and also, continue to eliminate manual processes across the organization."
"My CIO is in love with QuickBase. He continually calls it 'the best thing since sliced bread.' Given what we've been able to accomplish in such a short time, I absolutely agree."