The mission of the KLM operations decision support (ODS) and BCG collaboration is to improve the operational efficiency of KLM. To that end, we build tools for a multitude of departments involved in the long term, medium term, and day of operations planning of KLM. Our teams investigate where impact could be made and initiate projects using the agile methodology. This means that we first come up with a solution proposal after which we quickly develop a prototype in order to validate the business case. This prototype is mostly a show of value without being designed to be directly operationally useful. It might be that we build a model and showcase it on some difficult scenarios. If the prototype shows good potential we move forward to implementing the solution.

We co-develop with business users in order to make a tool that enables them to make smarter decisions and improve efficiency. Co-developing means showing intermediate results with the business and determining new functionalities of the tool together. Our philosophy is that reality is the best test environment. This implies that we want to get a tool ready for use as soon as possible. The first working version is what we call the minimum viable product (MVP). With this MVP the users can already start working and implementing solutions. After this phase the tool can be improved with the feedback of the users and new expansions can be added. In each of these phases the consultant decision support plays a key role.

The consultant will help explore the value, build the business case and develop a prototype. The consultant will need to be able to interact with business users and stakeholders to test the tool, collect feedback on the features and instruct the end-users in the usage of the tools. Furthermore the consultant will develop the actual software which means that he/she should also be at home with coding. At ODS we have consultants from multiple nationalities and different educational backgrounds. Some of the consultants are more focused on machine learning while others user operations research. Depending on the phase of the project and the team role, a consultant might spend more time on interaction with the business, designing the mathematical framework, leading sub-projects or coding. The consultant is the central role in the department connecting software engineers, business users, front-end developers etc.

ODS was created two years ago and the BCG ODS partnership was officially started in July 2018. The partnership has not just become a key pillar in the artificial intelligence strategy of KLM but also an industry wide recognized pioneer. KLM and BCG have decided that rather than keeping the work of ODS as a competitive advantage for a short time, they will sell their services to other airlines as well. This means that the consultants from ODS also travel to other continents and countries to work on projects. Consultants should therefore be at ease in dealing with multiple cultures and speaking multiple languages can open doors.  

Examples of tools:

- Optimizes the flight schedule to minimize impact of disruptions on passengers by avoiding delays and cancellations
- Use case: A flight from Madrid is heavily delayed by weather conditions in Spain. How to deal with the flights that have been scheduled for this particular aircraft? Sentry decides whether to delay or cancel these flights or if a reserve aircraft should be used.

- Optimizes the crew schedule to minimize impact of disruptions on the crew schedule and reserve usage
- Use case: The cancelation of a flight causes some crew to get stuck in London Heathrow. How to get this crew back to their home base Amsterdam? And how to deal with other follow-up flights to which this crew has been assigned?  Harbinger swaps crew schedules and allocates reserves in order to determine a new feasible crew planning

- Optimizes the flight schedule to minimize impact of a bad weather scenario at Schiphol
- Use case: For tomorrow we expect strong winds from an unfavorable direction. This means that the runway capacity goes down from 60 to 20 arrivals and departures per hour. Do we have to cancel flights in order to make our schedule feasible? Which flights do we have to cancel? How much delay do we expect for the flights that we don’t cancel?