Productivity

How Slack simplified complex operations at Cebu Pacific Air

By the team at Slack4th April 2024

Thinking outside the box paid off

If you’ve travelled by air, you’ve probably looked out from the boarding lounge and been impressed by all the activity around the planes. There’s food, fuel and baggage going on, and passengers and cargo coming off. 

It’s impressive because it’s well-coordinated and works smoothly. Yet anyone who works in an industry with complex operations, like logistics, manufacturing, construction or healthcare, knows there’s a lot of organisation and communication, as well as systems and applications, working behind the hustle to keep it all on track.

At Cebu Pacific Air, that hustle is something we know well, running 400 flights daily to more than 60 domestic and international destinations across 14 countries. That requires round-the-clock coordination with our logistics partners, ticketing and sales systems, engineers, airport authorities and more. 

The company needs to be efficient. Even with so many factors at play, we have to make sure our flights run on time and we keep costs down so our services stay affordable. Those are demands people in other industries can relate to.

In recent times, meeting that challenge has become significantly easier for us. We did it by looking outside the usual industry solutions and streamlining our workflows with Slack. It wasn’t always so simple, though.

“We looked outside the usual industry solutions and started working with Slack. It’s transformed the way we work.”

Angelo Maria BerbanoIT Director, Airline Operations Systems, Cebu Pacific Air

Disconnected systems were slowing things down

Like many of our peers in industries with complex operations, Cebu Pacific Air relies on a diverse mix of systems to keep things moving. 

Those systems vary widely in age, technology and sophistication. One thing they have in common is that they’re not designed to talk to each other. That makes it hard to share information at speed. It’s difficult, for example, to quickly share an instruction you’ve just received over two-way radio with multiple people using other systems. The flow of work becomes disjointed. 

If you’re in an industry where staying on schedule is vital, you’ll know why this is a problem. People can’t get the information they need to make quick decisions, solve problems and keep things moving. For us, this meant that it took too long to respond when one of our flights was delayed by unexpected events like bad weather or a bird strike. Those delays affect the rest of our schedule. In your industry, it might mean delayed shipments, missed deadlines or disrupted production. 

We knew that to be more efficient and move faster, we needed to bring all our systems together. We wanted to simplify our workflows and make it easy to access all the information, approvals and clearances that we needed. And we had to do it in a way that would be easy for everyone from a baggage handler to a pilot to use.

Putting key information and workflows all in one place

Cebu Pacific Air was prepared to think differently. Slack emerged as the best option because of its ease of use, powerful API, and ability to play nicely with other systems. 

It’s transformed the way we work. Instead of trying to coordinate across several different systems, we can get the information we need in one place. 

“With Slack, we can ensure everyone has what they need, when they need it, with as much or as little detail as required.”

Angelo Maria BerbanoIT Director, Airline Operations Systems, Cebu Pacific Air

For example, for every flight, we create Slack channels where everyone can share the details needed to make sure things run on time. We use Slack to bring together information from seven different airline industry systems. Crucial updates, clearances and approvals are all done via Slack and shared with as many as 100 people at once. We’ve also created automated workflows to make sure things happen in the right order and at the right time.

With Slack, we can ensure that everyone has what they need, when they need it, with as much or as little detail as required. 

Slack is saving Cebu Pacific 114,000 hours a year

So what difference does this make day-to-day? In our old way of working, recovering from a bird-strike incident (unfortunately not uncommon in the Philippines) used to take at least two hours. Today, by being able to quickly share pictures, engineering reports and other information, that time can be under half an hour. 

All told, Slack is saving Cebu Pacific Air around 114,000 hours a year in productivity. That’s more than 14,000 days of work. The time we save using Slack helps our teams focus on higher-priority tasks and make sure our flights depart on time.

For me, one of the key lessons here is that it can pay to be bold. We looked outside the normal industry solutions and, with Slack, found something that’s made a real difference. Slack has changed the way we run our business every day for the better. Where would Cebu be without Slack? Still flying, of course, but it would probably be a lot harder than it should be.

If you work in an industry that requires managing a lot of moving parts, coordinating and sharing information across big teams, I’d recommend you do the same. Have a look beyond the default choices to see what Slack can do for your productivity.

 

Written for Slack by Angelo Maria Berbano, IT Director, Airline Operations Systems, Cebu Pacific Air

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