This article, written by Stephen Ashkin, was published in Private University Products and News


In the 1980s, British Airlines was going through a difficult period. One of the airline’s challenges was that it simply did not have a good departure and arrival flight record. There were many flights- far too many-that were leaving or reaching their destinations from two to as many as six hours behind schedule.

What the airline decided to do was look for key performance indicators (KPIs) that could help determine where the delays were originating from and what actions could be taken to minimize or eliminate these delays. Calling their program “The Late Plane KPI,” the airline’s employees decided these KPIs needed to focus on six criteria, as explained in the 2015 book Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs by David Parmenter.

First, they looked at custodial: the amount of time it took to clean the planes. Secondly, they looked at refueling, quite simply the amount of time it took to refuel the planes. Next, they accounted for catering, the amount of time it took to restock the planes’ food and beverage supplies. Fourth, they considered slow passengers, those who might need more time boarding or who could potentially slow down the boarding process. Fifth, they looked at high-paying passengers, specifically how to accommodate first and business class passengers without delaying takeoff. Finally, they considered traffic control-primarily in updating traffic control so they are aware the plane is boarding and soon ready for takeoff.

Following these KPIs and taking actions where needed, it was not long before British Airlines had turned things around and actually had a better than average reputation for leaving and arriving on time. As you can imagine, this had a big impact on the airline. This process helped British Airlines financially, resulted in more loyal and repeat customers, improved employee morale, reduced costs, and even promoted sustainability and the environment.

Bringing KPIs Closer to Home

At this point, you might be wondering what KPIs and British Airlines have to do with operating a private university. Plus, while we referenced it in our discussion, what does all of this have to do with sustainability? Quite a bit actually, especially if your private university is working to become more sustainable, use natural resources more responsibly, and reduce operating costs.

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