KPI dashboards are the perfect solution to control an airline’s operation. Either real-time or near-real-time, a well-implemented dashboard with a thorough set of KPIs, enables a huge potential for improved monitoring and situational awareness — especially on management and executive level.

Implementing, or setting-up a KPI dashboard is often considered as a simple and relatively effortless task. And many times, an airline got in touch with us after 6 or 12 month of unsuccessful — or should I say disillusioned — in-house implementation.

Retrospectively, and also based on our experience, projects usually fail because of the following four mistakes:

1 — KPIs are not clearly defined

Defining KPIs seems to be so trivial in the beginning but swiftly turns out to be super-complex.
Why’s that? Because there are a lot of details, which are not obvious in the beginning.

Let’s take an easy example: Departure Punctuality.

Trivial at first: All flights departing as (or nearly as) planned (an expert would say ATD > STD) in relation with all departed flights.

Unfortunately, there are dozens of additional questions:

  • Shall the KPI really be based on Actual and Scheduled time or probably on delay times as received for each delay reason?
  • If it’s based on delay times, do we receive the delays instantly and in a good quality?
  • When does unpunctuality start? 3 minutes late? 15? 16?
  • How do we consider cancelled flights?
  • Shall we use different thresholds?
  • Shall all airports be included?
  • Shall all aircraft operator be included?
  • and so on…

Always bearing in mind: Departure Punctuality is one of the most simple KPIs and we are already raising numerous questions.

I guess you can imagine how complex it gets, when defining KPIs as for example Ground Time Sufficiency or Misconnex Quota.

The problem now is, that most often the complexity is widely overseen in the beginning and development starts on an insufficient specification. And I’m pretty sure you can imagine how this impacts the project progress and success.

2 — Starting with too many KPIs

The above mentioned complexity and related challenges, leads directly to the fact, that setting-up a KPI dashboard with to many KPIs isn’t a good idea at all.

We’ve seen so many projects that got stuck simply because it was not possible to handle the complexity of various KPIs — each with the challenges described above.

Our advise: Start with a small set of KPIs — 3 should be sufficient (take the most important one: 3 KPIs every airline should pay attention to). And instead of trying to setup several, ultra-complex KPIs, use the 3 and tailor them to different dimensions (airport, fleets, etc.) — this is much easier and faster but already brings huge benefits.

3 — Paying to less attention to visualization

KPIs are important. Reliable data and correct calculation is important. But it accounts for 50% only.

The other 50% is about visualization. Without a at least proper — but preferably perfect and delightful visualization — you won’t get a sustainable usage and success of the dashboard.

And by the way, perfect and delightful is not a questions of favours — it’s a science called Information Design. And again there are so many things, which can be done wrong and which ultimately will lead to a reduced usage:

  • Wrong usage of colours and fonts
  • Wrong usage of charts
  • No clear design concept
  • No alignment between content and design
  • No clear structure
  • And many more…

4 — Reduced accessibility

Probably the most important and absolute killer-mistake: Your dashboard is not seamlessly integrated on required devices (screen, laptop, pad, mobile) and/or cannot be accessed with required devices at all.
By the way: When talking about seamless integration, this is not about providing a browser access to your dashboard.
Apart from that, there’s not much to say — the project success stands and falls with the accessibility of your user group — take care of it.

What are you experiences? Share them with us on LinkedIn or with the author below.

More content needed?

Download our Airline Operations KPI Guide

The KPI Guide introduces 38 different KPIs. Each KPI is listed with a short description / explanation as well as an examples and specific notes.