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A Week in the Life: The ANSL Project Management Office (PMO)

Have you ever wondered what a week in the life of the Air Navigation Solutions team looks like?

We spent a week catching up with our Project Management Office (PMO) team to get an insight into some of the vital work that goes on behind the scenes of ANSL’s biggest projects.

Our PMO is the team that oversees and manages the delivery of all our projects, be it ATS Asset Replacements, Concept Development work, internal and external Change Management projects, or any other project activities our customers, friends and partners throw at us.

The PMO manages an incredible variety of tasks, not just on each project directly but also all the work that is required in order to juggle numerous projects simultaneously, ensure the business is ready for the change, and that we are fully aligned with our customers. The team has a broad and diverse background but what unites them all is their unprecedented collective experience of having successfully managed big and small, short and long, challenging and critical Air Traffic Management projects – and there are plenty more to come, so let’s have a look at a #WeekInTheLife of the ANSL Project Management Office:

Day 1: Carrying out a portfolio dependency review

On the first day, we heard from Sophie Mills and Emma Cuthbertson who talked us through their portfolio dependency review process.

Sophie explained: “To ensure that the complex network of portfolio and project dependencies are coordinated and risk assessed, a monthly Portfolio Dependency Review is undertaken.

“This review ensures that any new business requirements are planned and synchronised into the roadmap. We also make sure that any changes to project milestones do not impact any other project within the portfolio.”

Emma continued: “The review is carried out by the PMO together with other important stakeholders around the business.

“It encourages transparent and honest management of expectations and allows the business to efficiently and effectively allocate resources to deliver to their agreed timescales with both our suppliers and customers.”

Day 2: Pre-tender process and procurement strategy

On Day 2, Brian Jack told us all about the Feasibility & Options phase and explained the pre-tender activities the team carried out for our Electronic Flight Strips upgrade project at Edinburgh Airport:

“The aim of this phase of a project is to identify the options we have available for the problems we are trying to solve.

“This project required us to carry out a tender process to procure the best and most suitable system for our customer and as part of our procurement strategy the team visited various ATC towers to see potential solutions in action.

“In this instance, we pursued a pre-tender process for an electronic flight strips (EFS) upgrade. We had a number of possible solutions to choose from and our strategy at the PMO is always to take end-users with us, where possible.

“For the EFS project, an ATCO and engineer joined us so they could ask the right questions and help inform key decision making. This challenges the way the process is run and keeps the staff engaged and informed from the very start of each project.”

Day 3: Soak Testing the MIDS System

On the third day, we spoke with Emma Cuthbertson, who explained what Soak testing really is and how you use it to test a MIDS system:

“Throughout COVID-19 we have adapted to deliver certain activities remotely, in order to continue successful outcomes for our customers.

“One of these remote meetings was with our supplier in Canada, who we were virtually meeting with for a Soak test of the new MIDS system that ANSL is delivering for Gatwick Airport.

“The Soak test allows our team to test the new system with a typical workload. It enables the operational and engineering teams to familiarise themselves with the new system in its development so far.

“Taking the time to prepare will benefit our transition into operation later on.”

Day 4: Transition planning for our VCS project at Gatwick Airport

On Day 4, Charlotte White, together with Emma Cuthbertson and ATM Specialist Engineer, Douglas McMillan gave us an insight into transition planning for ANSL’s Voice Communication System (VCS) project at Gatwick.

“As VCS is a highly complex project, transition planning is a vital part of the PM process to ensure that all stakeholders are fully informed and all details have been covered” said Douglas.

“Using previous projects, such as the recently installed VCS system in Edinburgh Airport, our team is continuously building their experience from one transition to the next.”

Charlotte continued: “Engineering and operational plans are created 30 days ahead of going live. These are run through in full ahead of the transition to make sure everything has been covered. During this period the team also continues to test the system to gain further confidence in the change.”

Day 5: Creating a ground-breaking Unit Validity Course (UVC)

On our final day of “Week in the Life”, Sophie Mills told us about one of the change management projects that the PMO has been delivering, which resulted in our new UVC:

“With a strong team of operational and project staff, we took the opportunity to create a Unit Validity Course (UVC) that uses not only live traffic but systematically uses simulated traffic hours as the basis for On-the-Job Training (OJT).

“Our state-of-the-art simulator, alongside the pandemic, gave us the opportunity to create a new course for our trainees. The course makes use of a wonderful asset and allows training to continue if live traffic levels remain low. By allowing for tailored traffic scenarios to be simulated, training can be made highly effective, the ability to pause or repeat situations intensifies the learning effect and the independence from live-traffic means that training can be scheduled more reliably.”

ANSL’s UVC training in the simulator commenced in April 2021, a milestone that was recognised by BBC South East.

We’ve learned the work of the PMO is vital to ensuring deadlines are met, the correct resource is allocated efficiently, and that we deliver the best possible results for our customers. Thank you Sophie, Emma, Charlotte and Jack for your hard work and determination, and for providing us with a fascinating insight into the day-to-day life of the PMO.

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