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Southwest Air ruptured fuselageAll you travelers out there have undoubtedly heard about Southwest Airline’s issue last Friday: A Boeing 737-300 experienced a ripped fuselage shortly after take-off. Southwest has since voluntarily cancelled at least 600 flights since Friday’s emergency landing. Photo cutesy of Ross D Franklin/AP.

After further inspection and information analysis, the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it will issue an emergency directive Tuesday to require operators of certain Boeing 737-300, -400 and -500 models that have accumulated more than 30,000 takeoff-and-landing cycles to conduct electromagnetic inspections for early signs of incipient fatigue damage. Those inspections must be repeated at intervals not more than 500 cycles.” (See the Seattle Times article here.

Imagine the information governance that both the FAA, Boeing, and individual airlines must have in place. First they must (very quickly!) identify the causal issue, based on detailed maintenance logs, manufacturer data, and even the specific manufacturing processes involved.

Next, they must (just as quickly) do some predictive analytics to find where similar problems may be lurking to stop a disaster before it occurs. These predictive analytics had to be run across the individual airlines, and take into account multiple parameters: manufacturer, manufacturing process, model numbers, inspection logs, and more.

As if that wasn’t enough, Southwest Airlines alone had to cancel flights, notify passengers, move aircraft around, and rebook at least 600 flights. Pronto. One example follows:

“Last night, another Southwest flight was diverted. The flight, headed from Oakland, Calif., to San Diego, Calif. made an emergency landing because of a burning electrical smell. “

To track all of this information and react quickly, these organizations had to, in advance, clearly identify critical data elements that they needed to track (maintenance logs, manufacturing processes, etc.). They also had to document their information policies: how long to keep information, how to analyze information in maintenance logs, service level agreements (SLAs) for notifying passengers of flight changes, and so on.

I can’t understate how the business processes above absolutely rely on clean, consistent information. If a model number is not stored according the defined data standard, quick access to that aircraft would not happen. The risk of NOT applying information governance principles is well-known and unacceptably high.

Now think about your business. Which information elements are absolutely critical to your business? Which business processes depend on those information elements being of high quality? What does “high quality” mean to each individual business process? Which elements must be dealt with first? Who owns understanding the ramifications of poor governance and driving the information governance program forward? Do you have an accurate assessment of where you are now? Could you quickly use predictive analytic techniques to proactively avoid large problems? Of course, SAP tools and services can help you with these tasks. Check out our Enterprise Information Management Suite, and throw in a healthy dash of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (for your predictive analytics), and SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (for your business processes).

Above all, get your organization talking about how quality, timely information is critical to business function, value, and risk reduction. In independent agencies, government contractors, and the federal government can do it, it’s hard for you to say “it’s too hard.” 🙂 

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