Index of Contents
The 555-seat, double deck Airbus A380 is arguably the most ambitious civil aircraft program of all times. It is the largest passenger jet ever built. Its designers claim it will increase efficiency, use less fuel and generate less noise. Airlines can transport more passengers and cargo with the A380 than by any other commercial airliner, particularly on over sea flights and other extremely long flights (Airbus, 2011). Many airlines around the world, such as Air France, Emirates or Lufthansa have placed or will be placing orders for the A380.
This report is all about the troubled history of the Airbus A380. In four stages it will describe how Airbus can improve its business efficiency. The first chapter is about systems and operations management and how it is integrated at Airbus. The second chapter describes how information systems and operations management can be updated to improve their business efficiency. The role of soft systems methodology is evaluated in the third chapter analysing and defining the business requirements at Airbus. The last chapter is about the people, technology and organisational issues involved in improving the operations at Airbus.
Airbus first began studies on a large 500-plus seat airliner in the early 1990s. Airbus saw its new jumbo not only as a competitor to the Boeing 747 but also as a successor. In June 1994, Airbus began engineering and developing the new design, then designated this new project as the A3XX (Airbus, 2011). Just putting an A380 together presented Airbus with some big problems. It was not possible to create a manufacturing facility large enough to build the entire plane in one place. Different parts were constructed throughout Europe at so called Centres of Excellence (CoE):
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A company like Airbus, which is spread over whole Europe, needs a powerful systems and operations management. Systems and operations management (SOM) should be integrated in every part of a company. To assess the role of SOM at Airbus the different meanings of these terms have to be described first.
System Management is a centralised management of the IT infrastructure. To keep the overview over the resources is very important. Every financial and other shortage has to be spotted in time and has to be fixed (Laudon and Laudon, 2010). Systems management helps to save time and money especially at such big companies as Airbus S.A.S. or EADS.
Operations Management is an operational leading task and a very important module of the management. It consists of planning, organization, enforcement, controlling of the value chain and the provided services (Sox, 2011). Efficiency and effectiveness are very important. Efficient in terms of using less resources as possible and effective in terms of meeting customer requirements. Effectiveness is easier described as; doing the “right things” and efficiency means to do those “right things” right (Krcmar, 2003).
SOM connects every function of a company to a closed cycle. In this form of cycle every function is connected to each other and SOM is managing the information exchange between the different functions (Slack, Chambers and Johnston, 2010). In the case of Airbus, the function “Product and Service Development” (PaSD) is inviting new products or the range of services. This function for instant has to develop the new aircraft, the Airbus A380. PaSD needs a good knowledge of the terms of references in the company. These terms of references have to be forwarded, with the help of SOM, from the superior function to the PaSD function. But without the right staff the PaSD function cannot work effectively. Therefore the function Human Resource (HR) is needed. HR is concerned with the employment and arbitration of people in accord with the law and with the directives of the company. But HR also relies on SOM, which overviews all the needs, regarding the targets of the company. After the SOM function has clearly defined the staff requirements HR can begin with searching for new employees. Now the function Accounting and Finance (AF) comes into the play. SOM provides the relevant data to the AF. On the other side AF has the financial analyses for performance and decisions. The AF is concerned to all business transaction costs of Airbus. It ensures the money to the HR function so they can search for new employees etc. AF is also managing the payouts to the employees.
The Marketing function is always searching for new customers and ways how improve their effectiveness. SOM has the understanding of the capabilities and constrains of the operation processes. On the other side the marketing function is best known with the market requirements. All these functions mentioned above are supported by the functions Information Technology (IT) and the Engineering and Technology (ET) function. All the required information has been allocated and forwarded by the SOM. IT function and also the ET function are linked to each other. ET function needs a running and identical software across the whole company. SOM determines the tasks and responsibilities of the IT function. What kind of software has to be developed, which will be used in the future and which has to be overworked and improved, might be some of the tasks forwarded by SOM. After a successful development, the new software will be provided to all other functions, which are in need of this new software by SOM.