Case Study

Heathrow Airport – The ultimate ERP transformation programme

An empty airport departures lounge, looking out of the window onto planes outside.

In Summary

Heathrow Airport is the UK’s largest airport, handling 80 million international passengers annually pre-pandemic. Heathrow contacted BIE to seek assistance with the largest transformation programme in the airport’s 75 year history: an organisational redesign and upgrade of their entire aging ERP on-premise infrastructure to the cloud. BIE worked with Heathrow to understand the specific requirements of the project and deliver the expertise required.

The Situation

Heathrow needed an experienced Transformation Director to support in the replacement and modernisation of the infrastructure for all the back office functions of the airport – Finance, Revenue, Income, Asset Management, HR and payroll and Aeronautical Billing.

Heathrow needed BIE to recruit quickly as the project was against the clock with a burning platform deadline with the data centre. The successful candidate would have to join, setup from scratch and deliver a vast programme at pace with business critical deadlines and needed the skills and temperament to take on the challenges this brought to the role. The successful candidate was expected to ensure that there was appropriate ownership and buy-in to the solutions, together with a strong change management background.

The Solution

As the programme progressed, the pandemic added logistical challenges, significant resource and budget constraints while lockdown required the creation of an innovative agile-remote digital methodology for coordinating the vast, globally distributed team.

The pandemic decimated the travel sector, as Heathrow and other airports faced substantial loss of revenue and personnel. Such losses greatly impacted the programme which still needed to deliver the transformation despite restricted resources and business capacity.

In addition to the typical ERP functionality, further functionality needed to be delivered in HR to accommodate complex employment contracts, and finance to address various regulatory and accountancy requirements.

The Outcome

BIE worked with Heathrow to understand the specific requirements of the project and the skills and attributes needed to ensure the appropriate candidate was identified.

Given the time constraints of the project, BIE suggested an interim solution. The appointed transformation specialist, Stephen Williams, ensured a benefits of realisation workstream was implemented from the start of the project and that his team, the Board and the wider business understood the benefits of and reasoning behind the programme.

The project was completed successfully ahead of the deadline and under the original budget. The programme overcame unprecedented challenges and all functions were consolidated and streamlined, enabling Heathrow to continue operating with improved efficiency.

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