Four Tips to Help Schedulers and Dispatchers Sharpen BA Operations

In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey tells a story about a man walking in the woods. This man comes upon another working feverishly to saw down a tree. The first man says, “You look exhausted. Why don’t you take a break and sharpen your saw?” The second man replies, “I can’t. I’m too busy sawing.” If that sounds like the schedulers and dispatchers in your operation (or you if you’re a scheduler or dispatcher), read on for some ideas that might offer a break and a chance to sharpen your saw.

Odds are good that your schedulers and dispatchers are using some kind of software package to juggle the myriad demands of scheduling, flight planning and trip planning. Unfortunately, you’re likely using a different system for each of these phases of a trip. The data flowing from these different systems then integrates in the minds of professionals whose job it is administer the running of your operation. But as the world gets smaller, and the demands on your flight operations team loom larger, overwhelmed staffs are looking to rebalance the scales between administration and the important work of finding new ways to increase efficiency and optimize safety. One way this might be accomplished is through integration.

Systems integration is more than systems that can “talk to each other.” While it’s a great start, an integrated system is one that can, “can think as one.” An example of integration is the way Google Maps can not only provide several routes to consider between points A and B, but optimizes the trip for walking, driving (including traffic and toll ways), biking or public transportation. Regardless, the system is thinking on the user’s behalf, weighing alternatives and offering options.

There are few things more complex than business aviation flight operations. Whether its price quoting a trip, flight and trip planning, crew briefings, securing overflight permits, interpreting regulations, administering customs, arranging ground transportation, monitoring maintenance schedules/crew duty times, and the list goes on, the minutiae of a given trip can be endless. Yet, the human brain’s ability to manage it is not.

Thinking Smarter, Not Harder.

Since there isn’t a tool in the marketplace today that helps integrate all that data, what can flight operations do to spend less time managing data and more time applying it? Try these tips—they will take more time to learn initially, but could save time and add efficiencies to your operation in the long run:

  1. Reduce the number of times data is entered—One of the biggest enemies of efficiency is the simple mistakes that come from having to enter the same data multiple times. Can you share information instead of rekeying it? Can you expand the utility of a single report and eliminate the need for others? Can you reduce the number of people entering data into your systems?
  2. Be more visible/transparent—The thing legislation and sausage share is that no one really wants to know how they’re made. The same could be said for scheduling, flight planning and trip planning. Still the more visible you are with your calendaring, emails, passdown notes, etc., the more chances you have for others to help more easily find and fix errors, connect the many data points that go into a single trip, and help you see efficiencies that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  3. Get the right help at the right time—If you wanted to, you could probably build a deck on your home if didn’t have one. You have most of the tools already—you have friends who can help, and after a few minutes on YouTube, you’d have a good sense of how to do it (if you don’t already know). Or, you could call a contractor who builds decks on homes every day. For not a lot more money, you get a deck that’s likely built better, completed in a shorter period of time and is constructed avoiding a lot of the pitfalls that do-it-yourselfers wouldn’t know to look for. The same can be said for scheduling, flight planning and trip planning. The idea here isn’t that you’re not capable. Instead, it’s knowing when to tackle something like a trip to a new country yourself and when to get help from someone who does it every day.
  4. Restore the balance—Regardless of the role any one person plays in a flight operation, the number one job is safety. Period. Yet, spend only a few moments with a scheduler or dispatcher and you’ll see an overflowing email inbox, eyes darting between multiple monitors, people huddled around their desks pressing for answers and a phone ringing off the hook. Is staying on top of the the day-to-day needs of any flight operation crucial? Yes. But it requires that ability to step back from the daily work, and the time to think about it. Today, those two necessities are likely seen as luxuries in the eyes of schedulers and dispatchers.

Like the man sawing the tree in the opening of this post, schedulers and dispatchers need more breaks, and times to sharpen their saws. While we can’t help administer all the points noted above, we can help with one. The complexities of international operations—especially to regions where trips aren’t normally taken—can be overwhelming. Jeppesen’s International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) helps operations like yours manage international trips hundreds of times every day. Let us help you. Learn more by clicking here or contacting your trusted Customer Service representative directly. Or, you can email or call (800) 553-7750.

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