How a unified cloud ERP can streamline operations, enhance financial management, and make life easier for the operators who run the world’s 41,800 airports worldwide. 

Serving around 1.5 billion passengers annually, the world’s airports are a flurry of around-the-clock activity, with much of that bustle going on behind the scenes and out of sight of the typical air traveler, from managing flights to negotiating vendor contracts to tracking billing, receivables, and collections.

In many cases, these pieces are still managed using manual processes, spreadsheets, and paper, all of which stand in the way of efficiency.

Run either by a municipality, an airport authority, an independent operator, or a consortium of airlines, airport terminals handle the activities that passengers interact with while at the airport—from processing passengers to getting them boarded on their planes to orchestrating myriad terminal facility activities (e.g., restaurants and merchandise vendors).

For many operators, the key challenges that impede efficiency and make the process difficult include:

Challenge #1:  Reliance on manual, paper-based processes.

A critical aspect of airport operations, service requests (i.e., for ramp services like baggage services, cleaning services, towing, and de-icing) often must be transcribed onto work order forms or other manual documents prepared by MODs (managers on duty). When not enabled by technology, this process is both error prone and time consuming.  

Challenge #2:  Leaning too hard on offline budgeting analysis.

Without a unified technology system in place, airport often find themselves “flying blind” with their budgeting processes. When departmental-level budgeting is handled offline, for instance, gaining financial visibility across the organization (i.e., ground operations, security, tenants, and so forth) is virtually impossible.

Overall, this labor-intensive process for offline budget analysis is a major pain point for airport managers. “These customers often have elaborate budgeting processes, most of which take place offline and are manually inputted into an Excel-based system,” said Jory Weissman, vice president of sales at business software consulting firm MIBAR. “Then, they extract the financial reporting and performance data from their accounting software and do the budgets-to-actuals in Excel.”

Challenge #3:  Inability to invoice customers on time.

A measure of the average number of days that it takes an organization to collect payment after a sale has been made, days sales outstanding or “DSO” is often determined on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis (Investopedia). This data point creates significant headaches for airport managers, who have to track everything right down to the amount of de-icing fluid that’s sprayed onto an aircraft while it’s sitting on the runway (and that then gets charged to the airline).

Handled manually, the tracking process can be quickly derailed when, say, a piece of paper is dropped in a puddle and rendered unreadable. “These seemingly-minor issues can really decelerate an airport’s revenue,” said Weissman, “and prevent invoices from being sent and/or paid on time.”

Challenge #4:  Manual contract management.

For most airport flight operations, ramp services, and concessions, all billing and expensing are contract-based, with most of those contracts originating on paper and then recorded to static Excel spreadsheets that employees refer to when generating invoices. While logical in theory, these siloed, paper-based processes can quickly turn nightmarish for the companies managing them.

“This is a major pain point for terminal managers, most of which are dealing with a high number of outside vendors,” said Weissman. Adding to the complexity are the myriad rules governing billing, with variables like aircraft type, emplaned passengers, and turns, all of which are managed manually. There are also various “escalation processes” that can easily be overlooked, resulting in lost revenue.  

Technology to the Rescue

MIBAR’s Terminal Management for NetSuite was specifically designed with the airport terminal manager in mind. Pooling its 25+ years of ERP implementation experience, the MIBAR team spent three years developing this industry-specific extension of NetSuite that is typically implemented within three to six months.

Focused on creating a unified experience that ties together financial reporting, budgeting, operational execution, contracts, contract management, and both customer and vendor portals, MIBAR’s Terminal Management for NetSuite eliminates the friction caused by paperwork, silos, and spreadsheets. In some instances, MIBAR’s airport customers have improved operational efficiency by up to 30%, depending on the operation and its specific needs.

With MIBAR’s Terminal Management for NetSuite, airports get an end-to-end solution that helps terminals break out of their paper-based ways. It also helps them maximize technology tools that will help them accommodate the billions of passengers that can confidently rely on their services year after year.

Watch Now: Webinar Discussing Challenges and Opportunities for Terminal Management in the New Normal

Airports will face a variety of challenges on the journey back to normal. That’s why it pays to start preparing now for the hustle and bustle, ensuring that both front and back office processes remain consistent. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new webinar discussing the challenges and opportunities faced on this journey back to reality.

Cleared for Takeoff: Challenges and Opportunities for Terminal Management in the New Normal explores the pre-pandemic pains you may have forgotten about and discuss how the right technology can help your people work more effectively.

In this, MIBAR’s Jory Weissman will highlight the story of Terminal One Group, the team in charge of operations at Terminal One at New York’s JFK Airport. One of the busiest international terminals in the US, Terminal One faced a variety of challenges in their back office that left them struggling to keep up with invoicing, reporting, tenant management, and more. That was, until they found MIBAR.

Now, thanks to the help of the MIBAR Terminal Management Solution, Terminal One’s back-office runs just as efficiently as its gates. Ready to learn more? Click here to watch now.

Additional Resources

Airport Terminal Management: Ramping up for a Return

The Path Forward: A Terminal Manager’s Playbook to Create a Soaring 2020s

Deicing Your Processes: Why a Focused Solution Helps You Achieve Terminal Velocity