International collaboration is at the heart of CCS, a unique partnership between 3 ANSPs from three countries: DSNA for France, ENAV for Italy and skyguide for Switzerland. Developed by DSNA and ENAV, two of the leading air navigation service providers in Europe, with technological support from Thales and Leonardo,CCS is run in close cooperation with skyguide, a partner acting as client. Deploying an agile methodology and a highly collaborative approach at every step of the project, CCS teams work together to provide innovative customer-centric FDP services. Based on Coflight, the most advanced FDP system in Europe, CCS is developed by and for ANSPs, no matter the size, to specifically answer their needs.

The main mission of CCS? To implement SESAR objectives, whilst harmonizing ATM services, working to achieve the ambitions of the Single European Sky and creating economies of scale by empowering collaboration between ANSPs regardless of their size.

We asked three members of the CCS team, which includes some 45 people based in France, Italy and Switzerland to give their personal insights when it comes to working on this international project. Here is what they said:

In your opinion what are the keys to successful international collaboration?

Samuel Stanbach, Coflight Program Manager & Information System Architect, skyguide, Switzerland
As with any collaboration, it consists in having common goals and values, trust and respect for each other. It is also about listening and understanding each other’s needs to reach a win-win solution.
Using agile methodologies to find a common solution together was probably one of the keys to success. Another one is to have allocated full time and adequate skilled resources to the project. Finally collaborating with people from other countries and organizations, with different ways of thinking opens your mind, makes your job a lot more exciting, and therefore makes you more productive.

Andrea Quaresima, CCS SWIM Service Modelling, Italy
Clear communication and effective coordination among teams (through periodic and specific topic- addressed meetings) are the keys to successful collaboration.

Christine Salles, Senior System Analyst, CCS SWIM Service Design, France
A constructive, open-minded and even caring attitude. Getting to better know your partners by meeting them regularly in person and in an “informal way” (around a cup of coffee or through team building activities) also helps to achieve trust and efficiency.

Are there any particular challenges related to working on an international project of this scope?

An extra care to communication is key, as intercultural dimensions and various levels of English language skills may stand in the way. Having weekly conference calls, making sure you have completely understood what the other is saying, including in written communication, and sharing the information widely and in different ways (verbally and using emails or team workspace tools) within the team have helped a lot to facilitate the work of the project.

One of the challenges is that skyguide is supporting the development of CCS as a partner, while eventually becoming a customer. Another one is that CCS should deliver a service which could be used by other ANSPs, and therefore should not be custom made for skyguide.
This sometimes made it difficult to find the right content and timeline for the partnership projects. Nevertheless, I think that so far we have succeeded in finding a win-win plan and delivery.

The main challenge is to create a robust relationship and good empathy within the different teams, despite the physical distance and the different cultures. In my view, this challenge has been successfully achieved by CCS.

Would you like to share any personal satisfactions?

During the last team building event on December 2019 in Paris, each CCS team was asked to prepare a presentation on its main goals, activities and milestones achieved and to share it with all participants including the three CEOs from DSNA, ENAV and skyguide. Together with my team (SSD team), I proposed and realized an amazing storytelling about our responsibilities and activities. The story’s characters resembled SSD team members and was a success. It made the atmosphere lighter by getting a laugh from the audience.

Working in international projects like CCS is an opportunity to discover places and food abroad with locals – and to discover other ways of thinking as well. It is also an opportunity to bring the best of each culture into the project, e.g. to work in a “southern” cheerful atmosphere while respecting meeting schedules and agendas with Swiss discipline…

The CCS program touches a lot of different areas in addition to Information Technology such as SESAR and SWIM, IT Architecture, Air traffic Management, Agile methodology & project management, politics & negotiation, legal & contract, marketing and Finance. I have been fortunate to contribute and to be involved at different levels for each of them. It has been and still is, a great satisfaction to contribute while learning and improving in so many different areas.

Intercultural communication can be challenging. Do you have any funny or amusing anecdotes in this regard?

It was during the mentioned team building event in which a mission to Mars game was organized. We were divided in groups of 4-5 people and asked to complete some preliminary tasks to be ready to go to Mars, such as to build a self-supporting bridge with wood sticks or to be tightrope walkers between two skyscrapers through the virtual reality.
I realized that, despite the different cultures, we all have fun the same way.

I love good food and one of the benefits of this program is that I got to travel from time to time to Toulouse, Rome or Paris. Once I was having lunch in Rome with a few CCS team members. At the end of the meal, one of the Italian colleagues asked who wanted an expresso, coffee; and I asked for … a cappuccino… The colleague was semi-amused –scandalized: You cannot drink a cappuccino after lunch, you don’t do that in Italy!! Lesson learned, now I do it secretly 😉

Jokes that pop up when we regroup for dinners in crowded restaurants may not always be easy to catch, especially when your English is limited to the Globish you use for work. Fortunately, communication gets a lot easier after a couple of beers…