Public Transportation Sector

Defining Key Performance Indicators for Airport Security Control

ProMES as a managerial tool to align interests of public and private stakeholders

Running a complex organization such as an airport involves dealing with divergent interests between different stakeholders.

Running a complex organization such as an airport involves dealing with divergent interests between different stakeholders. In this example of a security control, there are representatives of the airport operator and the police who have to negotiate organizational goals and interests on managerial level to ensure smooth operation. In this study, initiated by the police’s research & development team, the participative approach of ProMES was applied in four workshops in order to build a common performance management system. This served the following purposes:
• Clarifying organizational goals
• Resolving conflicts of interest on a basis of facts
• Prioritizing goals
• Developing “common” approach and spirit among different stakeholders
• Establishing a framework of objectives as “guidelines” for employees in lower organizational hierarchies

Using contingencies to clarify priorities

In 2011, four workshops with management representatives of both airport and police were held. During those, managers set up a common ProMES System consisting of six objectives and eleven indicators.
• Objective “Productivity”: Indicator “Mean throughput of passengers per hour”
• Objective “Security”: Indicator “Knowhow of Security Officers”
Particularly helpful were the consensus-oriented moderation technique used for ProMES and the quantification of priorities that could be visualized through the development of contingencies. A task force group, led by the police’s internal research & development team and consisting of airport and police representatives, now takes care of regular feedback sessions. As the system serves as a general “cockpit” on an abstract level, productivity increases are to be expected less prominent and slower than in other ProMES projects where indicators can be influenced directly by work groups.

Not all indicators are currently available for measurement. As an example, the chart shows quarterly results (2011) for the indicator “Knowhow of Security Officers”. Here, productivity visibly increased by 127% within one year.

ProMES framework for lower hierarchical levels

After successful implementation of ProMES on managerial level, units on lower hierarchical levels could start building their own ProMES system. They could use the objectives that had been developed by the management to guide their own work regarding the clarification of their tasks. They aimed at finding tailored indicators for their own objectives and duties. In 2012, this resulted in two units of supervisors (passenger control and hold baggage control) developing their respective ProMES systems. The feedback phase for these units is currently in preparation. Again, the participative approach of ProMES helped in dealing with initially divergent ideas regarding their job profile by clarifying expectations in leadership tasks or the measurement of satisfaction.

ProMES as a useful tool to start performance management of larger organizational units

“The introduction of ProMES helped us to clarify different positions and to unite interests without generating conflict in our task force. It now serves as a common ground for mutual discussions on strategy and fosters fact-based discussions among ourselves. Moreover, we can follow the ongoing ProMES developments in hierarchically lower work units with a thorough understanding of the ProMES principles. This helps us to align our interests as executives with those of our work units on different hierarchical levels. In the end, we can only achieve best possible performance if we all share a mutual vision of what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. This shared vision and the common approach will play a key role in establishing our corporate security culture of the future.”

Felix Walz (Zurich Airport Police, Head of Staff Branch and Martin Horn (Zurich Airport Operation, Head of Airport Steering)

Literature on the Case Study

Wetter, O. E., Fuhrmann, H., Lipphardt, M., & Hofer, F. (2011). Bringing adversaries together: The importance of a common management-level approach in complex work domains. In M. Faundez-Zanuy, V. Espinosa-Duró, & L. D. Sanson (Eds.), Proceedings of the 45th Carnahan Conference on Security Technology (pp. 20-25). Mataró, Spain: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Wetter, O. E. (2012). From short-term goals to organizational objectives: Managing security control using goal setting. Zürich, Switzerland: Doktorarbeit der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich.


Research & Development Team, Airport Police Zurich