Customer stories

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport Ltd. gets instant access to more than 2.5 million documents. OpenText Documentum reliability keeps aircraft flying by managing 180 ongoing projects while lowering costs


  • Legacy document storage system could not manage or quickly access hundreds of thousands of documents for complex project management
  • Required accurate search and archiving functionalities to control projects and meet compliance
  • New solution must provide operating consistency and reliability to meet longer-termed needs


  • Centralized solution enables instant access to 2.5 million documents

  • Ensures regulatory compliance

  • Document searches conducted in minutes rather than days


Since its opening as London’s primary transport hub right after the Second World War, Heathrow has been commited to a consistent and safe expansion. Continuing upgrades to terminals, taxiways and related infrastructure, together with the construction of Terminal 5, enables the airport to safely handle an ever growing volume of larger aircraft, such as the Airbus A380 and the passengers they carry. Efficient project engineering is key to that process. And managing project-related documents is critical to success.

Luggage sitting on the floor.

OpenText Documentum has proven that if you stick to things and stay consistent, people appreciate it. When I see an engineer using Documentum to fix something, I know it’s worth its weight in gold.

Andrew Manington
Document Manager, Heathrow Airport Ltd.

First steps

Until the late 1990s, Heathrow relied on another solution as a repository for contracts and related documents. However, the system became outdated and lacked effective search capabilities. Critically, it could not be employed to efficiently manage and control engineering projects.

When Heathrow embarked on the critically important Terminal 5 (T5) build, project engineers recognized that they required a stateof-the-art document management system to manage hundreds of thousands of project-related files. Everything from detailed architectural drawings and maintenance manuals right up to project handover files had to be immediately available.

“Heathrow engineers knew that thousands of project documents were going to fly all over the place,” said Andrew Manington, Document Manager at Heathrow Airport Ltd. “We needed a solution that could handle the scale of documents generated by T5 while also providing control throughout the project’s lifecycle.”

In 1997, Heathrow chose OpenText™ Documentum to help manage T5 build related documentation. Documentum was deployed in two mirrored enterprise storage server systems for 24/7 reliability and high availability. During the T5 project, the solution managed more than half a million documents within a single centralized repository, was accessed by up to 40 primary suppliers and thousands of subcontractors located across the globe and was used by hundreds of on-site engineering and construction staff.

Journey of Documentum solutions

The original 1997 deployment of Documentum was only the beginning of the journey. During the T5 project, Heathrow project engineers learned they could rely on Documentum for effective project management. Compared to the older document management system, finding specific drawings and files took only seconds rather than hours. Project staff could access critical electronic documents first thing in the morning rather than wait for hard copies. Rapid access to the documents contributed to a considerable increase in efficiency and productivity, helping engineering and construction teams meet budgets and deadlines.

Operating costs also fell. Staff printed hard copies of only what they needed. Management discovered that Documentum’s ease of use meant they no longer required an army of document controllers. Instead, anyone authorized and trained to use Documentum could quickly access and contribute in critical documents. Due to Documentum’s advanced design, users were able to search and retrieve the most recent and approved documents, regardless of the number of previous versions that were stored. This capability enabled management to tightly control the project by keeping everyone on the same page.

With Documentum, we had realized a consistent, reliable and stable method of managing large volumes of documentation, while also ensuring security and long periods of retention.

Andrew Manington
Document Manager, Heathrow Airport Ltd

“We learned so much during the T5 project,” Manington explained. “With Documentum, we had realized a consistent, reliable and stable method of managing large volumes of documentation, while also ensuring security and long periods of retention. We began to wonder how this might be applied to the rest of the airport.”

Block to block consistency

Every year, Manington upgraded Documentum to the latest version and used the solution to manage a variety of projects. It was instrumental in the Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 upgrades, as well as ongoing taxiway expansion. All Heathrow construction and engineering projects relied on Documentum. Simultaneously, related manuals and historic documents were digitized and managed by the solution.

“All of a sudden, Documentum not only managed ongoing projects but was also a repository of historic data,” Manington said. “We have architectural drawings of the airport going back to the Second World War. It is an asset that engineers and managers can instantly use for research, compliance, or other purposes. In some ways, we also act as a trustee for historical artifacts, which is a very satisfying outcome.”

To lower costs and increase efficiency, in 2007 the airport appointed OpenText partner SynApps to fully manage Documentum. About the same time, IT solutions expert CapGemini was assigned to manage Heathrow IT infrastructure, as well as help Manington get the most from the Documentum solution. “These partners understand our business requirements,” said Manington. “They’re a breath of fresh air.”

Stretching wings with OpenText™ Documentum D2

Recently, Manington learned that the Heathrow HR department was seeking a human resources software package to centralize document management. Historically, HR hard copy documents were manually filed in Scotland. However, manual filing was prone to mishap and inefficiencies.

Engineers using Documentum had long relied on OpenText™ Documentum Webtop as the user interface. But Manington learned that Documentum D2 was available. Documentum D2 provides a modern experience that enables users to increase productivity by locating actionable content among millions of stored documents and provides easy configurable automation to increase productivity, consistency and control.

Heathrow Airport HR chose to deploy this latest version and Documentum D2 for HR and Legal Record Management. As part of the deployment, the HR team scanned thousands of paper documents. These digitized assets are now instantly available using a centralized Documentum repository. Documentum D2 has also been integrated with Oracle, enabling users to retrieve personnel files and histories even more effectively. Heathrow Airport HR is also able to better meet compliance because employee record retention policies parallel legal requirements.

The Heathrow Finance Department has also adopted Documentum D2 and in doing so, has lowered costs by increased efficiencies and accuracy. Manington plans to extend Documentum D2 to all users within the near future.

Flying to the future

It has been a long term partnership between Heathrow Airport and Documentum. Today, Documentum acts as a workhorse for the airport by managing more than 2.5 million documents related to 180 ongoing projects, as well as historical data. Heathrow Airport trusts Documentum to protect those critical resources and processes.

“Throughout its life, the solution has never had a major failure and users unquestionably rely on it,” Andrew said. “We are currently studying how Documentum might be expanded to allow for even greater levels of access, flexibility and agility while further decreasing CAPEX.”

About Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport Ltd. operates one of the world’s busiest airports. Every 50 seconds, an aircraft lands on one of its two main runways. Every day, almost 140,000 passengers move through the airport’s five terminals.