We all know the troubles Ryanair is facing with a reported 400,000 passengers being “hit by cancellations” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41414414
We all also know that until recently the business strategy of the company has been hugely successful. Being Yorkshire based, Episode favours Jet2 of course, who is hot on the heels of Ryanair, but that is for another day….
What struck me is that had senior management in Ryanair studied ISO 9001:2015, the global standard for quality management systems published by iso.org, perhaps this crisis may not have arisen.
What would ISO 9001:2015 possibly have to do with Ryanair?
As you might expect, Episode is a huge fan of ISO 9001, especially the latest iteration published in 2015.
We ourselves have structured our business around it’s concepts and guidance (and, in time, we will become certified to the standard, but it is important to note that is an afterthought. We adopted the framework because it’s the considered opinion of experts from 165 countries that it represents current best practice thinking). But I digress.
Consider your stakeholders (all of them)
Up front the standard makes sure you consider all your stakeholders. and understand their needs and expectations. Usually people think shareholder/owners, possibly customers. We encourage our clients to think broader and deeper – employers, regulators, your local community, and so on. Ryanair exemplifies why. In their case pilot’s must count as stakeholders, and important ones at that.
Reportedly, most of the cancellations are due to a backlog of staff leave which has seen large numbers of the airline’s staff book holidays towards the end of the year. The airline is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December instead. Ryanair said the shift meant it had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October. As a result it is reported that 140 pilots have joined Norwegian Air alone, and the BBC reported damning comments from an unnamed pilot on 6th October stating that pilots have “had enough and they are leaving” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-41384789 . Had the needs and expectations of pilots been considered, would this have been the case?
Risk based thinking
The unnamed pilot went on to say
“The Irish Aviation Authority has changed the rules where pilots cannot fly more than 1,000 hours in a rolling year, and the flight hours have to be taken from January to December, whereas Ryanair were using April to April.”
“Ryanair have been given two years’ notice but the company have left it to the last minute”.
Proper business planning and risk based thinking might well have considered the ramifications of such a change (oh, and remember I said earlier about stakeholder engagement – Irish Authorities are a stakeholder too…)
Guess what, ISO 9001:2015 has this covered too. It asks you to consider risk – part of section 6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities asks you to “consider the issues referred to in 4.1 [the bit about strategic planning] and the requirements referred to in 4.2 [the bit about stakeholder requirements] and determine the risks and opportunities that need to be addressed”.
Yep, ISO 9001 deals with this too. There are too many references to quote them here. A key one is 4.1 [operational] processes, which says (amongst other great advice)
“The organization shall determine the processes needed and shall: …. determine the resources needed for these processes and ensure their availability.”
Yes, I appreciate running an airline is an immensely complicated business. But of the resources you need planes, fuel, places to take off and land, and flight crew immediately spring to mind; and I don’t run an airline…..
Not rocket science, is it?
What does this mean to me, I am a SME?
So very often, especially when asked what we do, people say “why should I consider an ISO based management system?”
Episode is in a great place with 5 people currently engaged in over 20 projects from a standing start in June 2016. Whilst we are proud of what we are doing, I highlight this not to brag but to emphasise just how much the success is due to learning from ISO. One of the key reasons for our success is that we have a proper business plan, the right infrastructure, considered our stakeholders, put the systems & processes in place (not least resource management).
Ryanair’s (apparent) lack of planning, risk management and stakeholder analysis is a great example of how ISO makes a real difference. If Ryan Air can be so caught out, can you?