by Alan Joch
El Dorado International Airport, in Bogotá, Colombia, is fast becoming one of the leading transportation hubs for flights across South America and beyond. The facility supports more than 30 international airlines, which last year served approximately 30 million passengers, and 18 air-freight carriers help El Dorado rank as a leader for cargo traffic in Latin America. The airport’s high-traffic status prompted government officials last year to announce new capacity improvements, and the latest plan will enable the airport to serve an additional 10 million passengers annually by 2021.
Headquarters: Bogotá, Colombia
Industry: Airport management
Oracle products: JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solutions, Oracle Database, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management
Andrea Liliana Ibañez Galvis
Length of tenure: Six years
Education: Bachelor of Accounting, Universidad Libre de Colombia; Specialization in Taxes Science, Universidad Central; Specialization in Finance, Universidad de la Sabana
Julia Piedad Gomez Silva
Length of tenure: Four years
Education: Bachelor of IT Engineering, Universidad Católica de Colombia; Specialization in Project Management, Universidad EAN
Personal quote/mantra: “First, select your team properly and empower it correctly, then work according to a strategic plan for the short-, medium-, and long-term goals.”
While government backing and new funding are essential first steps, these commitments alone won’t ensure ongoing success. That takes strategic planning and expertise in managing all phases of airport operations, whether that’s billing air carriers for airport support services or moving passengers efficiently through check-in lines. Behind the scenes, OPAIN S.A. is responsible for these areas and more. Its staff ensures that El Dorado’s internal operations run smoothly each day, while also managing a host of other activities, from marketing to keeping the underlying technology systems up to date and efficient.
As part of that role, OPAIN executives continuously analyze what new services will be required to support current growth and establish a foundation for the future. In recent years, this led airport officials to approve nearly Col$2 billion in new investments, including the implementation of Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne applications. Other investments paid for state-of-the-art technology to enhance customer service, such as upgrades for speeding passengers through customs and security checkpoints, providing more-timely flight information, and offering high-quality restaurants and a well-stocked duty free store.
These efforts are paying off. El Dorado Airport was recently recognized as the best airport in South America in the World Airport Awards, a prestigious annual ranking published by UK-based research organization Skytrax. The awards are based on passenger surveys evaluating more than 500 airports throughout the world. “This recognition is the result of a strategy and a goal we set for ourselves to focus all our efforts on being the best airport in South America,” said Andrés Ortega, an OPAIN manager, at the awards ceremony. The fact that the rankings are based on reviews by users of airport services “is even more exciting and meaningful,” he added.Legacy Shortcomings
As the central overseers of all El Dorado operations and resources, the OPAIN staff members perform many diverse duties. They collect payments from air carriers for a host of resources, such as leased space for airline check-in counters, hangars, and cargo loading and unloading areas. OPAIN personnel also manage contracts for airport restaurants and gift shops. In all, the vendor list represents about 500 contracts.
We now have control of all the resources within the company, which means better management of budgets, improvements in the accounting department, better support of the whole operation.”–Andrea Liliana Ibañez Galvis, CFO, OPAIN S.A.
The magnitude of this role convinced OPAIN officials to modernize with JD Edwards solutions rather than continuing to use a legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) application to manage the airport. The old system fit the requirements of smaller companies, not the demands of a fast-growing regional airport. “It was falling short of what we needed for our current operations and for what we’d need in the future,” says Julia Piedad Gomez Silva, chief technology officer at OPAIN.
Some of the most glaring shortcomings were surfacing when OPAIN processed invoices with contractors. The old system’s limitations meant the OPAIN staff couldn’t directly invoice vendors, and instead had to use a third-party invoice processor. As a result, OPAIN financial managers had little visibility into receivables. “The previous system would only show us the total revenues that were being invoiced,” says Andrea Liliana Ibañez Galvis, chief financial officer at OPAIN. “While the values were calculated accurately, this high-level view didn’t give us additional information that might help us make strategic decisions about optimizing our operations.”
Similarly, OPAIN’s staff struggled to closely manage real-estate assets—the spaces where airlines maintained check-in counters, hangars, or other assets. A third-party proprietary management program handled these assets, but it wasn’t integrated with the legacy ERP software, making financial analyses difficult.
Other legacy-system growing pains centered around the purchasing and management of supplies. Related workflow processes were overly complex, requiring multiple steps for obtaining quotes, issuing requisitions, obtaining the proper authorizations, and finally making the actual purchases. “The old system didn’t automatically provide us with transaction details from the purchasing system; everything had to be done manually,” Gomez Silva says. “Because we couldn’t easily gather statistics, planning became almost impossible.”
For these reasons, OPAIN executives thought twice before upgrading the ERP system when the vendor released its newest version. After reviewing their options, OPAIN’s finance and IT leaders chose the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system and selected the systems integrator and Oracle partner SYWORK to help with scoping the project and managing the implementation. SYWORK came with extensive industry experience, having contributed to projects throughout South and North America, including expansions at Ecuador’s Quito International Airport and at Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport.
In addition to confirming how the modern capabilities of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne would benefit OPAIN, SYWORK’s planning revealed another incentive for moving forward—the cost of JD Edwards was equivalent to what OPAIN would have paid to update its existing ERP application, says Elias Zakzuk, director of consulting services at SYWORK.Opportunities for Improvement
To implement the JD Edwards system and enable performance improvements, the SYWORK team helped OPAIN expand its virtual-server environment to include Oracle Linux. OPAIN’s IT staff and SYWORK technicians also integrated the airport’s Oracle Database with the new JD Edwards system for a direct connection that eliminated many of the data sharing problems of the past. OPAIN’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne platform went live in the spring of 2016, and it is now addressing the operational pitfalls of the legacy program and enabling other improvements in the airport’s operations.
The integration of Oracle Hyperion and JD Edwards will enable us to improve the overall management of budgets.”–Julia Piedad Gomez Silva, CTO, OPAIN S.A.
For example, in a step forward that helps OPAIN better control invoice processing, the company now uses its JD Edwards system to directly invoice leaseholders, eliminating the need for an outside invoice processor. Better oversight of these transactions means the financial staff can be more confident that invoices are accurate. In addition, the platform lets managers conduct detailed analyses of physical resources, whether by drilling into the details of contracts or visually using maps that quickly show where in the airport each vendor rents space. “With JD Edwards, we have additional financial information that in the future could help us consolidate some areas and make the business more efficient,” Ibañez Galvis says.
These benefits stem from the fact that the JD Edwards system consolidates information from all the other systems to generate invoices sent to airlines and other companies doing business at the airport. Having information centralized within the ERP application enables the OPAIN staff to gain insight into all airport operations, including how long aircraft are parked at gates and utilization rates of terminal services.
Ibañez Galvis says her staff can now drill into details about why some areas of the airport are less profitable than others. OPAIN personnel can also analyze why some airport resources, including the movable bridges for boarding and deplaning passengers, are used less frequently than others and thus may present opportunities to speed traffic flow.
“Our staff analyzes a wide range of information every day to quickly understand the latest trends in airport operations, whether that’s usage by each airline, utilization of jet bridges, or activities in the terminal,” she explains. “We now have control of all resources within the company, which means better management of budgets, improvements in the accounting department, better support of the whole operation.”Future Plans
With the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system in place, OPAIN executives are looking for ways to take further advantage of their more sophisticated ERP foundation. One priority is to add Oracle Hyperion Financial Management to their technology stack. “Our goal is to combine it with the more comprehensive information we now have to improve purchasing planning,” Gomez Silva says. “We expect the integration of Oracle Hyperion and JD Edwards will enable us to improve the overall management of budgets throughout the company.”
In addition, Gomez Silva’s staff and SYWORK will implement JD Edwards One View Reporting, which will give business users real-time operational data via dashboards and custom reports. Also on the enhancement list is Oracle’s Composite Application Framework, a tool that supports multiple JD Edwards applications, as well as Oracle business intelligence reports and external web applications. The IT department will also roll out expanded mobile capabilities for monitoring and contributing to all internal processes, something that is already available for requisition and purchasing approvals.
Along with ready access to information about all of El Dorado’s operations, these new resources will enable the OPAIN staff to create personalized reports for each department. “Everyone will be able to better understand how resources are being used in their areas and look for opportunities for becoming more efficient,” says Gomez Silva.
Photography by Shutterstock