Future Ramp: How to create a good Ramp Agent Dashboard (Part 2)

Future Ramp: In part 2 my blog sequence “How to create a good Ramp Agent Dashboard” I add five more recommendations for a professional Ramp Agent Dashboard design. If you like to hear more about the Ramp Agent Workspace Solution approach, come and listen to my presentation in one week at the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference APAC, Bangkok, Thailand

Agent Dashboard monitors the nerve center of an airline’s ground operation for one or more aircrafts on the apron. The information displayed there shall aggregate all relevant Ramp Agent Workspaces in one screen, such as

 

 

  •    Turnaround Management
  •    Passenger Handling (Local/Connecting)
  •    Baggage Handling (Local/Connecting)
  •    Load Control
  •    Cargo Handling
  •    Loading
  •    etc.

 

It is an operational reporting tool that is used to monitor these key airline business processes on the apron.

 

 

For the design of a professional Ramp Agent Workspace Dashboard I gave in my last blog some advices regarding the following five design rules:

 

  • Select the right type of dashboard
  • Relevance to the audience
  • What kind of questions shall be answered
  • Consider how your dashboard will be viewed
  • Be aware of web user reading pattern

 

To complete this topic about a professional Ramp Agent Dashboard design I would like to add another five important rules.

 

Operational Workspaces shall be grouped logically

A well-designed dashboard shall display data in logical groups. Examples for logical groups in a Ramp Agent Workspace Solution might be: If your dashboard includes flight, passenger, bag, cargo, turnaround and load control data, it is important that the flight related data (ETD, STD, gate, registration, etc.), the passenger related data (local and connecting passengers and bags; booking, check-in and boarding situation) and the loading related data (cargo; load control data) are displayed together, but each in a separate logical group.

Another advantage of sorting the information into logical groups is the following: When grouping the charts by theme with the comparable metrics placed next to each other, the Ramp Agent doesn´t have to change his mental gear while looking at the dashboard by, for example, jumping from passenger data to turnaround data, and then again to passenger data.

 

Do not add a graph or text simply because you think it's "important"

Nowadays, we can play with a lot of options in the chart creation and it’s tempting to use them all at once. However, it is advisable to use those frills sparingly. Frames, backgrounds, effects, gridlines, etc..…of course these options might be useful sometimes, but only when there is a reason for applying them.

Some dashboards I have seen at airlines therefore are often excessed with useless graphs and irrelevant effects, because in the design process everything seems to be “very important”. Such displays deflect the focus from the important message and the user will be distracted from the important information.

To be honest: There is no hard and fast rule to follow here, except ensuring that everything you display is relevant and meaningful to the audience – the Ramp Agent. Therefore, the airline project team shall make sure that enough user tests are made in advance by asking critically: Do you really need this information?

 

Make it as easy as possible

This recommendation goes along with the previous one. Don’t lose sight of the purpose of designing an operational dashboard. You do it, because you want to present data for the Ramp Agent in a clear and approachable way.  This shall facilitate his/her decision-making process on the apron. If the charts look too complex, the Ramp Agent/Turnaround Coordinator will have to spend even more time on reading the data than they would without the dashboard.

If a Ramp Agent Workspace Dashboard is visually well organized, the Ramp Agents users will easily find the information they need. Otherwise poor layout forces them to think more before they grasp the point, and no Ramp Agent - especially if you only have 30-45 minutes time to turnaround the aircraft – likes to look for data in a jungle of charts and numbers.

 

Provide the right context:

How will a Ramp Agent know whether those numbers or values are good or bad, or whether they are normal or unusual, if there is no context? Without comparison values, numbers on a dashboard are meaningless for the Ramp Agent. Therefore, one should remember during the design process to provide comparison values.

The rule of thumb here is to use comparisons that are most common, for example, comparison against a target times, against a preceding period or against a projected value. If you have two relative values, it is more advisable to add a ratio to show either an evolution or a proportion - to make it even clearer. Example: For monitoring the transfer passengers and bags: You don´t need to display the ones, that will for sure make their connection. It is completely sufficient to show only the critical ones, where the ratio between needed connecting time and estimated connecting time indicates, they will have a problem with their connection.

 

Operational dashboards need to be refreshed in real-time

This last recommendation is so to say a no-brainer, but out of completeness reasons, I do not want to omit it here. Only by ensuring that your dashboard data is being refreshed in real-time can ensure optimal performance once the dashboard is live. Getting live data sounds trivial, however it is one of the most challenging things when digitalizing the ramp activities.

 

Summary

Ramp Agent operational dashboards are powerful because they can help the Ramp Agent to you use relevant, current information to understand clearly how the operations on the apron is performing in real-time. By having this overall transparency the Ramp Agent is better in being in control of business decisions. By following the simple principles explained above, your Ramp Agent Dashboard most likely will be well designed and only contain relevant data. This  will generate the insights that your Ramp needs to pro-actively steer your Ramp operations.

 

Hopefully these tips of mine can help you for your design process of a Ramp Agent Dashboard. If you are more interested in the topic, please join also my presentation next week on the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference APAC, Bangkok, Thailand. I will be also happy to assist you within your dashboard design process. Please do not hesitate to contact me therefore.


 

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