As employees, managers, or leaders of organizations, people often consider the idea of improving corporate processes, yet it is very rarely that an everyday process of an individual’s life is viewed as a possible area of making improvements (Kubiak & Benbow, 2009). For example, optimizing sales is a part and parcel of a company’s manager, yet, in the environment of their home, a company manager is very unlikely to consider how it improve the process of serving clients at a grocery where they shop regularly. However, what makes the principles of the iSix Sigma framework so fabulous is that they, in fact, can be applied to any process and any environment period, whether it belongs to the business realm or not.
Traveling, in its turn, seems to have become an integral part of people’s lives nowadays. Therefore, the process of checking in at an airport is not only inevitable but also an essential process that one has done or is likely to do quite a lot in the future. Despite the fact that the check-in procedure has been around for quite a while, it could still use significant improvements, especially as far as the use of time and the security issues are concerned. By incorporating the iSix Sigma philosophy, in general, and the DMAIC framework, in particular (Kubiak & Benbow, 2009), one is likely to design the new approach toward the check-in process so that the latter could be enhanced and could become faster, easier, and more comfortable for all parties involved.
As a rough draft, the concept of checking in at the airport is a fairly simple and rather fast procedure. Indeed, most of the elements of the process can be deemed as rather fast and not requiring any complicated actions or tools. However, taking a more scrupulous look at the subject matter will show that some of its elements may conflict with others, thus, creating premises for an excessive use of time.
The process of checking in at an airport includes five essential stages that must be accomplished for the passenger to get on board. The stages were initially designed to make the process consume as little time as possible. However, with a rapid increase in the number of passengers, as well as the lack of awareness among the target audience about the basic principles of safety on the plane, the duration of the procedure increases, whereas customer satisfaction drops along with the quality of the services provided (e.g., a passenger may miss their flight due to a misunderstanding at the check-in stage). The following stages of the process are typically used at an airport currently:
- Waiting for the plane to arrive;
- Getting into the line of other travelers;
- Showing the ID to the airport officials;
- Walking through the metal detectors or
- Pat-down screening (used very rarely);
- Checking baggage security;
- Getting luggage tagged (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, 2016).
As stressed above, while being rather simple and involving a comparatively small number of steps, the procedure of checking in at the airport may often cause inconvenience to the passengers. As a rule, the necessity to wait in line, the issues that may emerge in the process of baggage checking, such as the overweight or oversized luggage, troubles with ID or having time management issues when undergoing the checking-in procedure can be viewed as the key problems that one is likely to face during the identified procedure.
Based on the specifics of the procedure outlined above, it can be assumed that delays causing both passengers and the staff members problems occur due to the lack of effort of both sides involved. In other words, the issues that emerge in the process of checking in are triggered by both the imperfections in the current framework of carrying the process out and the lack of awareness among the passengers. In other words, the inconveniences experienced during checking in are the oversight of both the passenger and the airport staff (Kubiak & Benbow, 2009).
The measurement stage, in its turn, will also require much attention as it will consist of several levels. First, the measurement of the current customer satisfaction rates will have to be considered. For this purpose, surveys will be used as the fastest and the most efficient way of retrieving the necessary information (Martin, 2014). The surveys will be based on the Likert scale measurement framework and suggest that the passengers should evaluate several aspects of the check-in procedure.
The analysis of the time that people spend on average while waiting in line to have their ID swiped will also have to be included into the range of measurement processes, as well as the time spent on waiting for the plane to arrive. The specified procedure will have to be carried out to collect information about the waiting time for different flights so that a plot chart could be designed and the general tendency could be determined. It should be noted, though, that, even in case the trend is positive, further implications for improvement will have to be considered (Brue, 2015).
From the airways company perspective, the lack of proper information management tools needs to be brought up as the essential impediment to providing high-quality services. In other words, airport organizations should consider introducing more powerful tools for transferring data and making it available to every member of the company. It could be suggested that the promotion of hand-off communication tools that will allow for transferring information from one member of the organization to another should be viewed as a possible solution (Meurant, 2013).
The issue of scanning is another obvious reason for concern. Indeed, the process of checking the passengers’ IDs is supposed to take seconds, yet lines continue to grow. Seeing that the enhancement of the current ID sweeping tools is hardly an option, it could be suggested that the procedure should be carried out by several members of the personnel simultaneously. As a result, the line is likely to be reduced.
The passengers, in their turn, could also consider reading the guidelines for undergoing the check-in so that the process could be improved. It could be argued that the identified issue is the fault of the airport company as well since it is the responsibility of the staff members to provide the customers with the necessary data and guidelines to ensure passenger safety, as well as create the environment of the maximum comfort. However, one must admit that the clients of airport organizations often disregard the guidelines for personal reasons.
Therefore, the problem can be viewed as twofold, yet the customer-related issues are also linked to the issues within the organizations since the provision of the guidelines and tips concerning the expected behavior and the required items that passengers will need during the check-in phase is evidently the concern of the organization (Morley, 2016).
Seeing that information management can be deemed as the crucial issue that will need to be addressed, it will be a reasonable step to suggest that the process of improving the current situation should be based on redesigning the tools for communicating with clients and company members.
As far as the former are concerned, it is imperative to make the company and state requirements regarding the check-in process be not only available to all those concerned but also immediately noticeable before the passengers have to face the check-in procedure. Specifically, a variety of tools including the traditional and the modern media will have to be incorporated into the process. Posters hanging in the airport buildings and outlining the primary stages of checking in, as well as booklets with pieces of advice, detailed instructions at the company’s site, e-mails to the customers with reminders about the corresponding regulations, and any other tools that will help avoid issues at the check-in must be considered. Specifically, the passengers should be advised to make sure that their luggage is in order, that they do not have any items that may prevent them from passing the metal detectors, etc.
At the same time, the operations that the company’s staff members perform as a part of their daily routine will have to be rationalized so that the process could occur at a faster pace or, at the very least, cause the passengers less frustration. For example, the process of transferring information about the possible delays in the schedule because of weather conditions or any other factor may be transferred faster; as a result, the people will be able to manage their time more efficiently (Pyzdek & Keller, 2014).
For these purposes, the introduction of a new principle of data management and the design of the campaign for increasing awareness among the passengers about the issue of checking in will have to be designed. It is crucial that every single type of media should be incorporated into the process. As a result, it is expected that people will experience significantly less discomfort when undergoing the procedure. Furthermore, the number of misunderstandings concerning the luggage issue will be addressed as the passengers will be aware of the items that may potentially cause problems during the check-in. last but definitely not least, the number of conflicts that emerge as a result of the flight delay may be reduced once the customers realize that the changes in the schedule are made to maintain the safety rates high and ensure their security.
Finally, the concept of the Just in Time (JIT) approach should be promoted in airports as a part and[parcel of the corporate philosophy. Seeing that the HIT framework is geared toward reducing the time taken to deliver the services, it will have an immense effect on the quality of the check-in process. Particularly, the waiting time will be reduced, and the passengers’ data will be processed in a much more expeditious way (Hossain & Islam, 2015).
When it comes to considering the tools for controlling the process, one might argue that the stage in question is going to be quite difficult to complete given the twofold nature of the project. Indeed, on the one hand, there is a necessity to maintain high competency rates at the airport, which is quite attainable; on the other hand, there is a necessity to keep the customers informed about the specifics of the check-in, which requires gathering data from the clients directly. The further statistical analysis of the information obtained from the target audience will serve as the basis for the further development of new tools and strategies that will help improve the quality of services (e.g., the purchase of new scanning systems that will help speed up the process and reduce the waiting time (Forgione, 2014)).
As stressed above, the control of the internal processes at the airport, including the information management will have to be executed by using supervision and the analysis of reports submitted by the staff. In addition, surveys distributed among the customers to evaluate their satisfaction levels and figure out what they consider to be the most painstaking part of the check-in should be viewed as an option. Furthermore, the application of a statistical analysis as the means of testing the strategies designed to enhanced the check-in [process must be adopted. Thus, the introduction of innovations and a consistent update of the airport’s security system will not disrupt the staff’s operations but, instead, factor in rather successfully (Harrington, 2013).
The use of the latest IT tools for executing control in the airport facilities should also be considered an option. Despite the fact that the suggestion is likely to require significant expenses from the airport companies, the identified change is bound to trigger a significant increase in customer satisfaction rates.
The incorporation of the DMAIC framework, which is a part of the iSix Sigma theory, into the plan of improving the check-in procedure at the airport is likely to improve the current situation and prevent the creation of the environment, in which passengers will experience the lack of comfort. By using the newly designed model, one will be able to reduce the waiting time significantly. As a result, an array of issue and conflicts emerging at the airport quite often is likely to be avoided or, at the very least, prevented in a fast and efficient manner. In fact, the problems that will emerge in the new setting may be nipped in the bud as long as the principles of the DMAIC framework are implemented and the current approach to time management is reconsidered.
One must admit, though, that the suggestion made above is only a model that does not take the attendant circumstances into account. More importantly, every airport setting is unique and, therefore, has a range of specific intrinsic characteristics that create additional obstacles to, as well as opportunities for quality improvement. These unique environments will need to be included in the analysis so that the model could be applied successfully, hence the need to make the model flexible so that it could be adjusted to any setting.
Nevertheless, the overall design of the tool is likely to serve as the primary concept for improving the airport check-in process. As soon as the essential improvements are made and the JIT framework is created to address the recurrent dilemmas, one is likely to experience a lot more comfort and much less frustration when checking in at the airport.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. (2016). Check-in process. Web.
Brue, G. (2015). Six Sigma for managers (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.
Forgione, M. (2014). $85-million scanning system aims to speed up airport security lines. Los Angeles Times. Web.
Harrington, H. J. (2013). Performance acceleration management (PAM): Rapid improvement to your key performance drivers. Chicago, IL: CRC Press.
Hossain, M., & Islam, M. R. (2015). Fingerprint matching through feature extraction and matrix equalization. New York, NY: GRIN Verlag.
Kubiak, T. M., & Benbow, D. W. (2009). The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt handbook (2nd ed.). Milwaukee, WI: ASQ.
Martin, J. (2014). Lean Six Sigma for supply chain management, second edition: The 10-step solution process. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.
Meurant, G. (2013). Airport, aircraft, and airline security. New York, NY: Elsevier.
Morley, K. (2016,). British Airways passengers face long delays after IT ‘glitch’. The Telegraph. Web.
Pyzdek, T., & Keller, P. (2014). The Six Sigma handbook (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.