Outsourcing

Whether the problem is to manage a large project with just-in-time delivery of component parts or subcontracted services or a just-in-time maintenance service, all can be done over the Net.

The requirements are the following:

• A common database

• A common mechanism (interface) for accessing that database

• The ability to set up different views of the data

Each contributor to the project needs only to see that set or subset of data relative to his or her portion of the project.

A good example of this might be an airline that outsources some or all of its services. For example, it has a schedule for the following:

• Flight crew • Flights themselves

• Airframe maintenance • Meals (catering)

• Engine maintenance • Wheelchairs

• Reservation agents • Cabin cleaning

• Ticket counter agents

The list is almost endless. Most airlines outsource catering and fueling services, but they could outsource everything. Although the crews typically work for the airline, they are treated almost as outsource subcontractors. The flight and cabin crew members individually bid on each flight. Their bid is accepted or rejected, not on price, but on seniority. Maintenance could be handled the same way and for small startup airlines it typically is. (Small startup airlines, to keep initial investment costs down, outsource many more services than the major carriers.)

The flight hours of the plane are published on the Extranet page. Then the maintenance company prepares a bid and crew to handle the scheduled maintenance stop. Note that the maintenance company doesn't need to see the catering schedule, nor almost any of the other schedules. Each contributor to the overall project has its own view of the common project database that contains all of the schedules. The capability to provide these different views, as discussed, can be implemented by using the inherent system file permissions, a "portal" software product, or a data management system.

Watch for these outsourcing trends using extranets not only for airlines, but also for design and construction projects both large and small.

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