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Our team embarked on a journey with Southwest Airlines (SWA) to revamp their 25-year-old operational systems, specifically enhancing OpsSuite to manage "irregular operations" (IROPs) and forecast potential delays. This collaboration aimed at reshaping how operators leverage real-time contextual information to mitigate delays.

Overcoming Legacy Shackles by Transforming Operations

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

Project summary

TLDR;

01

Internal Team

UX Designers · UX Managers · Product Managers · Tech Managers · Business Directors 

02

Date

2019 - 2020

03

Role

Researcher · UI Design · Copywriting · Interviewer

04

Key Contributions

  • Collaborate with business leaders for prioritization of backlog items and estimates of UX time and needs

  • Conducted contextual research and workshopped with Superintendents of Dispatch (SODs) to highlight a data point hierarchy and translate key features

The core team

DISCOVERY

Complexity 

An aging program not aligning with current use, resulting in elaborate, expert-only workarounds.

Performance 

The outdated system is slow, unstable, and often crashes, demanding time-consuming manual solutions from users.

Manual Process

Excessive reliance on manual entries and expert decision-making, where algorithms could have simplified operations.

 

Inflexibility

The system's limitations lead to manual planning, inducing inefficiencies and failing to utilize optimization tools effectively.

Engagement with Southwest's Superintendent of Dispatch (SOD) team and stakeholders unveiled the operational resilience despite existing technological hurdles.

Ground-level interactions with users in InFlight and FlightOps formed the foundation of our data assimilation, unveiling the reality of operational flow and gathering invaluable feedback.

INITIAL PAIN POINTS

RESEARCH

AFFINITY MAPPING & UNDERSTANDING NEEDS

Our journey commenced with on-ground interactions with users in InFlight and FlightOps. Observing their operational flow and gathering real-time feedback formed the cornerstone of our data assimilation.

  • Analysis

  • Automate processes

  • Communication

  • Comparisons

  • Customization

  • File Management / Retrieval

  • Headcount

  • Performance

  • Technology

  • Training

OPPORTUNITIES INDEX

Creating a roadmap for feature prioritization

IMPACT

Key features like Data Visibility, Data Sorting, and Focused Alerts were introduced to minimize operational hiccups. Interactive workshops with stakeholders helped prioritize and roadmap these innovations, aligning with SWA’s ambitious outlook towards operational excellence.

Data Visibility and Hierarchy

Minimized visual noise by focusing on relevant data at each process step.

 

Data Sorting

Enabled relevant data display, easing the transition from the old data dump format to a trustable, refined UI.

 

Focused Alerts 

The introduction of live data and visual alert hierarchy enhanced operational confidence and efficiency.

DESIGN INNOVATIONS

The enriched information architecture of OpsSuite, reflected in an intuitive UI and streamlined operations, aligned with Southwest’s ambition for operational excellence. This effort marked a significant stride in marrying UX practices with technological modernization in the airline industry for many decades to come.

OUTCOME

Obstacles

RETROSPECTIVE

  • What is my current mantra?
    Wabi-sabi 侘寂[ wah-bee-sah-bee ] Appreciating the beauty in all things that are incomplete, imperfect, and impermanent
  • What do you do for fun outside of work?
    I build 📠 mechanical keyboards that are as quirky as they are functional. Despite my amusing attempts at 🏐 volleyball, I dive all the way to the doctor's with a 🩻 herniated disc. My 📸 camera is my companion (Fuji X-E4). And I'm a ✏️ pro doodler.
  • Are you currently accepting clients?
    Currently I am not taking on any more clients! Get in touch and we can figure out timelines and upcoming availabilities 🤠

7-Eleven

Strength that speaks for itself

BENEFITS

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Availability

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Efficiency

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Trust

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