Management Systems

Why a Management System?

So often we hear talks of a need for culture change or more generally change management for organisations to move into the next phase of their development. Most of these initiatives have good intentions. A considerable amount of management time and effort, in addition to money, is spent on creating the elusive change. Research shows that a high proportion of these initiatives fail to meet their objectives.

One aspect that often gets missed is the support this effort requires from the management system of the organisation, not just to make sure that tangible progress is made but also that the new change regime can embed itself.

Airports, as organisations, have been very regulated and most have a lot of focus on a culture of safety, risk and compliance. However, the effort required to make this happen day-in-day-out is often at odds with the commercial need to deliver enhanced results for shareholders and keeping the cost to serve low enough for airlines and ultimately passengers.

This is where a well thought-out and implemented management system comes in, to make sure that the regulatory focus is maintained whilst at the same time delivering value for money propositions for airlines and passengers.

How will Airports benefit?

Airports have not had the same journey as, perhaps other organisations in the manufacturing or services sector in terms of implementing a robust management system e.g., ISO9001 systems or lean manufacturing. They have been isolated and insulated at the same time from such advances. Of course, this does not apply to all areas of airport operations. For example, a number of airports have done a lot of work in the area of digital services and passenger experience.

Implementing the cumulative learning of the manufacturing and services sector to the management of an airport will undoubtedly help them in many ways. Three main areas are identified below:

  • Integration of safety, security (including information security), risk, compliance and quality under the framework of a Quality Management System (QMS) on the lines of ISO9001: 2015. This will ensure that all these disciplines are approached in an integrated way thus maximising impact and minimising effort by bringing these under one single framework.
  • Broad-basing performance management using methods and tools such as a Balanced Scorecard (BSC). Such a scorecard gives the organisation the ability to balance its strategic objectives across not just financial and customer dimensions but also people and process dimensions.
  • Adopting Lean Thinking across the whole eco-system to reduce cost to serve and improve key performance measures such as turnaround time for aircrafts. As we all know, in today’s world, it’s not just organisations competing against other organisations but the whole supply chain competing with one another. Hence, it makes sense to focus on the supply chains and optimise and innovate at every opportunity available.


Airports, as major logistical operations, need an integrated management system to catch up with the progress that the manufacturing and the services sectors have made. This would set them up for growth in the next few decades especially as more and more of them continue to move out of government control to being commercial organisations in their own right.