Airport Management Software: “It has been a really positive and productive collaboration between HIAL and ISO”

Connecting eleven airports, from the Scottish Highlands to remote islands between the Atlantic and the North Sea: In this interview, Darren MacLeod of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited talks about the introduction of ISO's airport management software SKYport.

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Highlands and Islands Airports Limited was founded in 1986 and is wholly owned by Scottish Ministers. The airport company has contracted with ISO Software Systeme GmbH for the provision of financial and airport management software. In this interview, Darren MacLeod, Head of ICT & Digital Transformation, Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) reports on the current situation in the project.

Darren, Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) is a Scottish state-owned company based at Inverness Airport. It operates several airports in the northernmost part of the United Kingdom. Could you please briefly describe the history and situation of your company?

Darren MacLeod: Highlands and Islands Airports Limited is responsible for the management and operation of 11 regional airports serving some of the nation’s remotest communities: at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree, and Wick John O’Groats. Working with our stakeholders, we are committed to supporting the socio-economic benefits that aviation brings in Scotland by maintaining and developing a sustainable regional airport network to enable vital air connectivity and lifeline services.

Can you describe the structure of the stakeholders?

MacLeod: As a private limited company wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers, HIAL receives subsidies from the Scottish Government under section 34 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 and is sponsored by Transport Scotland – Aviation, Maritime, Freight and Canals Directorate. We work closely with our customers and are an integral part of the communities that we serve.

What are HIAL's fields of activity?

MacLeod: Our core activities include operating airports that meet regulatory standards and support essential and lifeline aviation connectivity.

What prompted HIAL to look for an airport management software provider?

MacLeod: HIAL had a requirement to replace our Microsoft Dynamics solution which was being used to manage our financial requirements and some airport operation activities with a modern Airport Operations Monitoring System (AOMS) solution.

Why did you choose ISO Software Systeme GmbH?

MacLeod: We conducted an open market tender. ISO met the specification required and following an evaluation exercise were awarded the contract.

How do you assess the progress to date and the corresponding benefits?

MacLeod: The success of the progress to date has been measured throughout the life of the project using HIAL’s project management methodology and signing off the benefits against the original Project Initiation Document (PID). As this is a newly implemented system introducing automation and consistent process across the organisation, rather than a like for like replacement system, we have adopted an approach which involved the setup of a dedicated 'SKYport User Group'. The user group is led by one of HIAL’s airport managers and represents all specialisms and locations to allow us to identify and realise the benefits and adjust the solution where required.

What upcoming project steps are planned?

MacLeod: While the system beds in across the business and the wide user base gets used to the new ways of working, we will be focusing on ensuring that the users are using the system correctly and identifying any training gaps. We are also focusing on the reporting opportunities that both the standard reports and the BI integration offer us.

How do you rate the overall collaboration with ISO Software System?

MacLeod: It has been a positive and productive collaboration between HIAL and ISO with open and honest conversations throughout the project. It is clear that our contacts at ISO understand the product and nuances of the industry, as well as understanding some of our practices. This helped us come up with the solutions and direction needed.

What else would you like to mention about this project?

MacLeod: It has been a challenging project which was exacerbated by COVID. We have been able to deliver the SKYport application and change to working practices across a geographically and operationally diverse estate of airports throughout an exceptionally challenging time.

Darren, thank you for this interview.

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