The Elite Squad

The tagline Fearless, the Elite Squad Team and the phrase ‘impossible is nothing’ was all put together one evening at Kraya…

It was an interesting evening and it harked back to a time a few years earlier.

The first project where we had to pull out stops was the pilot project for megabus.com.

The original version of the site was based on an idea and needed to be built from scratch and taken live within a very short timescale. Working on this was exciting, not just because of the adrenalin rush to be working on a project that could change the world (which it did promptly), but also because of the enormous amount of pressure to succeed.

We have since been involved in several such high pressure projects where failure is simply not an option. To date, we have delivered.

My favourite example of this is the work we did last year for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The fringe had a serious issue on their hands about a week into their programme launch in that they were unable to make sales due to problems with their new ticketing system.

On the Thursday (12th June) evening the Fringe called asking if we would be able to build a booking system for them over the weekend. John who answered the call (and initially thought they were kidding) roused the troops.

This started with a meeting on Thursday late evening with the Fringe to identify exactly what needed to be done and the best way to move forward.

We had already been involved on a limited basis in trying to resolve the issues with the booking system. We had also integrated the booking system into the website. This meant that we had a good idea of what was involved.

We had also built the website in such a way that it was fairly straightforward to plug another ticketing system in.

With these things working for us, all we had to do was put together a booking system over the weekend.

In reality, we started work in earnest on Friday morning and the site went live on Tuesday morning. It took four days and about five or six of us. We ran into numerous problems and hurdles, a large number of which were outside of our control including problems with the data.

The edFringe website went live on Tuesday, facilitated online bookings, and we also set up a section within the website for agents to sell tickets over the phone or in person.

All over four days. The last part was the hardest, working about 36 hours straight apart from a wee nap…

Sleeping Shri

Sleeping Shri

There were a few issues that cropped up and had to be resolved over the next few days which was expected considering the timescales involved.

Over the first week or two, the sales had almost caught up to the similar numbers as the previous year. The site was making all the bookings, not just a percentage (as it was the previous year) and it held up with minor issues. Load on the systems did not cause it to fail at any point.

We had completely revamped the infrastructure on which the site was hosted to allow for the kind of traffic that was expected. It was unfortunate that we didn’t really have a chance to take that live properly but it did help to reduce the number of issues the site faced.

The interim system we put into place was since replaced with the original booking system around mid july.

We are responsible for keeping megabus.com running day in and day out and it sees over 100,000 visitors every single day. With this kind of pressure being the basic level of service delivery that we do, there is a certain level of excitement and adrenaline rush that comes from doing something that seems so far out of reach and impossible.

We are currently involved in another project of a much higher caliber that I’ll write about once its completed. Projects like these remind us that we are really are fearless and impossible really is nothing…

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