Airline Maintenance Optimization

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Challenge

Uptake’s aviation team was working with an airline maintenance planning operation to demonstrate to our client (the operation’s parent company) our ability to provide value to analyst roles at the operation. I joined the project at the beginning of its second phase, at which point the operation was undergoing physical and process changes. The objective for the end of the second phase was to create a pre-production ready solution, which would inform a decision to move forward with a longer contract.

Due to my non-disclosure agreement with Uptake, I cannot discuss the content of my research. However, I can speak generally to the process we used to conduct the research.


Process

The first step was to learn about the impact of the operation’s changes to the internal working team’s knowledge from the first phase of the project. In preparation for a more extensive onsite visit, another researcher and I conducted remote interviews with a few analysts and stakeholders. This allowed us to gauge the initial effect of the changes, as well as learn more about the gaps and pain points in the analysts’ work from new processes that were in place.

The onsite visit spanned over a weekend in order to accomplish two research objectives: (1) more discovery around the analysts’ work, which informed changes to the prototype over the weekend for (2) prototype validation with the analysts. A third objective for the trip was to uncover contextual insights that would help the external working team build a data science model for our solution.

Returning to the office, I prepared a summary of our findings and worked with a designer to visually document the comparison of knowledge from before and after the operation’s changes. Additionally, development was underway and the developers needed to know what to build. The prototype served as a baseline but required iteration based on a more thoughtful synthesis of the research. We sat down with the prototype’s designer and conducted an ideation session that transformed our research findings into features for the solution. These changes were incorporated into the prototype and subsequently into development.

We went to the operation’s office for a second onsite visit in order to conduct usability testing with the pre-production solution. We made sure to test the solution with participants who did not have exposure to our work, in addition to ones we had previously interacted with, in order to mitigate some bias. We also documented the top insights and used them to prioritize remaining features through the end of the second phase while onsite.

Upon our return to the office, I created a design implications deck explaining the recommendations for the solution’s design based on our research findings. The designer took these findings and made design changes for the prioritized remaining features, which were in turn incorporated into development. Additionally, she prepared changes that might be pursued with a longer-term contract.


Outcome

The aviation team met its objective of creating a pre-production ready solution for the second phase. While our client decided not to move forward with us on a longer-term contract, they used the project deliverables to continue the project on their own, with the intention of taking the solution to production themselves.

 

Length:
6 months

Tools:
Microsoft Office

Skills:
Discovery Research
Iterative Research
In-depth Interviews
Contextual Inquiry
Prototype Validation
Usability Testing