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How to manage business transformation in CAMO/MRO projects

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Coping with ambiguous regulations and effects of digitalization: Please read this blog that describes the challenges for airlines’ CAMO/MRO organizations and how CAMO/MRO consulting can support

Changing MRO business

In the last couple of years I noticed that airlines increasingly invest into business process transformation coming along with new state-of-the-art MRO software. Two main drivers can be identified:

  • New requirements / regulations: there is a new generation of aircraft which require more up-to-date MRO software capabilities.

  • High cost pressure: airlines need to operate as process- and cost-efficient as possible

CAMO/MRO solutions available on the market today usually cover the business requirements of airlines of any size and type while being suitable for all aircraft types. They allow airlines to manage their maintenance, engineering and logistic needs and to assure their compliance with existent regulations.

When talking about the CAMO/MRO process, eight main categories of tasks can be identified:

  • Airworthiness control

  • Maintenance planning

  • Management of material logistic tasks

  • Capacity planning

  • Preparation of maintenance events

  • Streamline of maintenance processes

  • Managing the maintenance operations

  • Compliance with quality standards

Sophisticated systems cover this task categories and additionally offer advanced features, like workflow management, reporting, interfaces, management of new generation aircraft, multi-entity and multi-operator functions for airline groups, etc.

MRO Business Transformation: It is more than a single IT project

Digitalization in the MRO environment has far more complex challenges then just getting the system set-up and running. In the following I therefore would like to outline three problems concerning MRO business transformation and their consequences:

  1. Effects of ambiguous regulations

  2. Effects on Processes and Organization

  3. Effects on Culture

1. Effects of ambiguous regulations vs. best practice CAMO/MRO set-up

Even if the MRO industry is highly regulated, not all regulations provide airlines with concrete instructions on how to correctly fulfil the requirements. This might put some airlines into difficulties.

Let me give you an example for such an ambiguous situation: EASA Part-M regulation describe how airlines should set-up their CAMO (Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization). The CAMO is a part of the airline that organizes and manages all documents and publications for Maintenance Organizations Part 145 and Part M approved, like development and management of aircraft maintenance programs fulfilled, to ensure the safety of flights. A CAMO must also provide record keeping of maintenance performed. The other above mentioned regulation is EASA Part 145. This document on the other hand describes the set-up of maintenance and repair organizations covering pure maintenance issues.

The following problem might now evolve for an airline: To comply with these two regulations both topics should be handled separately. But it is not always clear where to draw the line? In other words: Who is responsible for the (pure) maintenance and who is responsible for the control? According to my experience, especially within mid-sized airlines, those responsibilities are not clearly defined and bring along a lot problems in aircraft maintenance and planning. The worst case scenario hereby might be airworthiness control. In less critical cases it results in an unclear organization structure and ambiguous responsibilities. This makes it difficult for airlines to control tasks and responsibilities and to improve the performance of CAMO/MRO processes and organizations.

CAMO/MRO consulting – based on best practice - might be a solution: It can support airlines in how to fulfill regulations for airworthiness control and do their MRO set-up more sufficiently and profitable.

2. Effects of Process & Organization vs. Business Process Engineering & Organization Change

After taking the decision about the right CAMO/MRO software some airlines might underestimate the scope of such a complex project: Implementing a new MRO software is not just about getting the system started, interfaced and ready to use. It is more than that - it goes beyond. It is about getting a whole organization and its people transformed into a new way of doing things. So the important question is: What else has significant influence on the CAMO/MRO performance?

  • On the process side new or improved maintenance business processes have to be implemented. This includes also how to use efficiently those features and benefits of the new IT application. Only the implementation of a very good CAMO/MRO software and a “simple” user training are no guaranty that the organization will work efficiently.

  • Coming from the organization perspective: New IT usually requires that CAMO/MRO organizations have to be prepared mentally, technically and organizationally for this big step. It’s about transforming the division to a certain model of running its business. It must be clear for all stakeholders how the organization looks like and performs its daily business activities once the new system is in place. Apart from getting the system itself up and running, topics like organizational structure, roles & rights & responsibilities, and resources must be addressed during the implementation as well. Otherwise it might end in severe problems, such as:

    • lack of airworthiness control, safety operation problems (worst case),

    • insufficient maintenance planning which might lead to additional expenses for aircraft parts or the technical aircraft availability for a flight, and

    • increased costs for the insufficient utilization of manpower, tools or hangars, etc.

As these two aspects might not be considered in full scope and effect while implementing a new CAMO/MRO system, a consultant partner’s methodological know-how in business process engineering and organization change might be the right complement for the project manager.

3. Effects on Culture vs. Change Management

Looking more deeply at soft fact aspects of business transformations of CAMO/MRO organizations, cultural aspects are usually another important component to address. As the latter are “intangible”, project managers might tend to neglect them. But organizational psychology teaches us that work-culture is always present and takes it affects. You can´t omit it. Also another rule applies: Culture is very resistant against changes. These need therefore to be managed pro-actively, if they shall be adapted successfully.

The magic word here is Change Management. This means to be able to answer the following question: How can an airline prepare an organization in a cultural and mental way to adapt to the new rules, definitions, processes, and organizational changes – and even more important – to stick on that. The last aspect illustrates another common “intangible” cultural pattern: Organizations usually have an affinity to roll back to their previous work, cultural and mental patterns after the successful completion of the implementation project (and the decreased focus by the management).

To make sure that the new way of working becomes part of the new cultural DNA, Change Management consulting with experience in this particular soft topic might be the right way to go.

Summary: Consulting Partners as a complement

CAMO/MRO organizations face three main challenges when transforming their business: First, ambiguous regulations that might result in safety issues, insufficient maintenance planning and increase costs. Second, implementing a CAMO/MRO software is not just about getting the system itself up and running. It’s about transforming the business to a new model of running its affairs and, third, achieving a long- lasting change in culture for the people behind. The scope for CAMO/MRO digital transformation projects therefore becomes often quite extensive. For a CAMO/MRO organization undergoing such a transformation it might therefore be worth a thought to get a consultancy partner. This partner will bring know-how methodologies that are based on best practice and already have succeeded in the past, to achieve the desired outcomes.

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