Microsoft released Excel in 1985. And, since that day, the world’s most versatile spreadsheet application has effectively functioned as the duct tape of the workplace for the better part of four decades. It’s used for virtually everything. In fact, I’m willing to bet that there are numerous Excel spreadsheets and workbooks open on your desktop right now. And, if there aren’t, it’s probably because you just closed them to make your screen a bit less cluttered.
And while Excel has been an easy way for keeping timesheets, calculating travel expenses from recent business trips, and doing basic math problems, it’s not necessarily the best tool for every job. And that’s because it’s a universal tool capable of doing just about everything.
So, you can imagine our surprise when we heard from attendees at the recent NBAA Schedules and Dispatchers Conference (SDC2022) that tools like Excel – and even sticky notes – continue to play a role in their flight operations.
SDC2022 was held in early April at the San Diego Convention Center in sunny California. But, while the sun may have been shining outside, some schedulers and dispatchers in attendance found themselves stuck in the dark. That’s because they’re still relying on decades-old systems and processes to manage their fleets.
The shortcomings of spreadsheets and sticky notes for aviation
SDC is a business aviation-focused event. The individuals attending the conference are managing one or more aircraft that companies of all sizes use as a business efficiency tool.
“SDC2022 was held in early April at the San Diego Convention Center in sunny California. But, while the sun may have been shining outside, some schedulers and dispatchers in attendance found themselves stuck in the dark.”
Schedulers and dispatchers that oversee these fleets face a lot of challenges. In our conversations with them, we learned that some are using an Excel spreadsheet with all of the most essential information about their fleets: where the planes are, who will be using them, and which crews are working on them. All of these essential details are kept in a spreadsheet in the same application that people use to calculate their household budgets.
Making things even more challenging, these spreadsheets are often saved on an individual scheduler’s computer, making it so that only one person has access to that data. If that individual is unavailable, that really important information may be trapped on their computer, with no way for coworkers to access it.
Another challenge? As Excel spreadsheet users can attest, there is no automation built into Excel. If a flight is canceled, or a return trip is changed, those edits are not automatically reflected in the spreadsheet. If a user doesn’t go in and change the inputs manually, information quickly becomes outdated and incorrect. And this isn’t just any information – it’s the status, location, crew, and passenger information for a company’s fleet of aircraft.
But Excel isn’t the only outdated tool in use by business aviation professionals. Some schedulers use whiteboards and Post-It notes to keep track of their aircraft. While this system makes it possible for every individual within that location to easily see where the planes are located, it’s not a system that can be accessed remotely and isn’t accessible to other employees of the company that aren’t based out of that physical location.
Also, we all know that Post-It notes eventually lose their stickiness. I can only imagine how much confusion is caused when a sticky note gives up on its mission and decides it’s time to stop holding on.
It’s pretty apparent that Post-It notes and Excel spreadsheets are not the most effective solution for scheduling a company’s fleet of aircraft. So, Collins Aerospace created a better solution and unveiled it at SDC 2022.
Introducing Calendar Exchange
The newest functionality available through our Izon-connected aviation technology platform – Calendar Exchange – eliminates many of the challenges and shortcomings that are created by older, less-advanced approaches to managing an enterprise’s operations.
“…while Excel has been an easy way for keeping timesheets, calculating travel expenses from recent business trips, and doing basic math problems, it’s not necessarily the best tool for every job.”
Calendar Exchange is a single source of information for everyone within the organization that gives them immediate transparency into the things they may need to know about their flight operations. Where is an aircraft at any given time? Who is utilizing it? What crew is operating it? When is it scheduled to depart and arrive? All of these details are readily available for anyone with access to Calendar Exchange via Izon.
Calendar Exchange is an intuitive, inexpensive solution that corporate flight departments can implement quickly and seamlessly. Once implemented, it simplifies and automates many of the manual processes and data entry that these individuals previously used.
Changes to flight schedules and crews are easy to make and immediately reflected in the application. Subsequent conflicts that result from changes are highlighted and flagged for the user. And notifications are sent to flight crew members, letting them know of any changes to their schedule in a timely and automated fashion.
Spreadsheets may never disappear forever from the workplace but they no longer have a place in business aviation for fleet management. Calendar Exchange automates important processes, increases transparency, and gives an entire organization the same insight into the actual, real-time status of its fleet. And it will never lose its stickiness and fall off the whiteboard.
To learn more about Izon and the Calendar Exchange functionality and how it can benefit business aviation professionals, click HERE.