Spotlight on Jet2.com - Interview with Stuart Bass, B.I. Applications Manager
What would you describe as your Team's key
We work across the business and we do all of the internal
development at Jet2.com and Jet2holidays which is not
directly eCommerce. We work with everybody across the
business from Maintenance Engineers, Pilots and Crew all the
way through to HR, the Call Centre and Finance.
Does your team respond to requests from
those areas of the business?
Typically we go out to the business and bring information
back from the various systems within the business. This
includes everything from the commercial websites where
customers book their holidays to the ﬂying operational
system (the system that ensures the aircrafts are in the right
places at the right times, with the right crew etc) and the
engineering systems which make sure all the aircrafts are
ﬂight ready. We pull all that information back, bring it
together and we make use of it within the business. So we'll
sit down with our customers directly, work with them from
beginning to end and do the whole project life-cycle. We will
take their requirements and turn them into user stories, from
which we will design a system to solve their particular
problem, to build it and then manage it with them as well.
B.I. Applications Manager,
Jet2.com & Jet2holidays
How are responsibilities divided amongst your
I manage a combination of developers at various levels and
some support staff as well. Also within the Business
Intelligence Team as a whole there's another part who do a lot
of the Data Integration; they will go out to third party systems
and bring the data back in for us and present it for us in the
formats that we need to solve the business’ problems.
Day-to-day in our Team each of the developers will be working
in two weekly scrum cycles where we'll have backlog items
proposed by our product owner. We will take these to the
appropriate stakeholders and go through the project planning
and entire project life-cycle with them for those particular
items to make sure that they get tested and delivered by the
end of each sprint.
What are the key technologies that are used
by your Team?
We are very lucky in Jet2.com, because the BI Team as a whole
has not been around that long and in particular the
Applications side really only started about three years ago.
Because of this we don't really have any legacy software to
deal with. We've got advanced Silverlight stack for a variety of
our existing applications. Additionally, we are moving to more
advanced web frameworks – because everyone wants to access
everything on their iPads these days and our customers are no
different – so as a result we've got a lot of ASP.net MVC and
Web API. On the front end, we make extensive use of modern
looking at Angular.js.
We're very lucky in what we do, because we tend to build small
bespoke projects to ﬁll in gaps in systems for people. As a
result of this and the fast business growth I manage over 20
projects and we get to build lots of green ﬁeld sites and choose
the appropriate technology to build it quickly for the end user
in the way they want. So we have a range of technologies and
are constantly looking for the right technology to use to build
things efficiently and to a high quality.
How are these technologies used in the
projects you and your Team work on?
The projects we work on tend to fall into three categories.
We have lots of Process Automation, particularly around
billing. We have systems that handle hundreds of millions of
pounds worth of invoicing that come through this business
every year. We are also now responsible for the custom parts of
the operational systems which ensure planes and people are in
the right place at the right time.
We also create projects which allow us to capture information
which isn’t otherwise available, for example we have a system
built in ASP .Net MVC, using knockout.js, to allow us to capture
product information directly from hotels for use in marketing
materials and in the call centre.
Another kind of project we have relates more to the classic
Business Intelligence, where you're reporting and helping
people analyse data. We help ﬁll in the gaps where standard
tools can't help people analyse or look at the data they want.
So for example we've got an advanced dashboard solution
which sits on top of ASP.Net MVC using razor templates. It uses
Bootstrap for general styling, Knockout.js, D3.js and other
binding. It's using Signal R for up to date transmission of data
and it uses Entity Framework in the back end for conﬁguration,
while collecting data from Analysis Services Cubes using MDX.
Are there any skills or speciﬁc areas of
technology that are essential for everyone in
your Team to know?
I think these days everyone needs to know Web. We will have
to maintain and continue to use Silverlight– what it does is
fantastic– and we'll train people in that, but the focus really is
on building good, scalable and reliable web applications. I'm
particularly looking out for ASP.NET and MVC. I don't have any
web forms on my estate so it really is MVC and some of the
do involves fairly intensive client interactions to help people do
the things that they need to do, or to visualise the data, for
data visualisation we use the D3.JS, which is another big library
in the work we do.
What advice would you give to someone who
is starting out in B.I?
Business Intelligence classically covers Data Warehousing and
the analysis services, which at Jet2.com and Jet2holidays is
handled by the other team in B.I. What we are really doing is
much more along the business applications. I think that within
that you have got to be ready for anything and be prepared to
be able to sit down and deal with people on a day to day basis;
to understand the problems and the things that they need to
be able to do.
Communication skills and being able to work on them are
absolutely key. It is no good being the most fantastic developer
if there is no way you understand what people are asking you
to build, or communicate that back to them. Communication
skills are absolutely key.
Is the work that your Team is doing very
varied, depending on which area of the
business they are working with?
Absolutely. For example, the work we do for Finance is quite
intense in terms of high volume of transactions and
complicated business logic. We've got a system called PIMS for
managing the hoteliers information - we've got 1500 hotels
logging onto this system and managing how many swimming
pools they've got, what kids clubs they have, all the details
about them, so we've designed and built a system that lets our
Product Team manage what info they want to collect and the
hoteliers to enter it. That information then ﬂows through to the
live website and to the brochures and so on.
The work is extremely varied, not least because some people in
the wider business are very IT literate, and others are much less
so. You have to be able to deal with them all and to be able to
provide solutions to meet each of their needs.
Why do you enjoy working at Jet2.com?
I've been here for just over 2 years. I love working at Jet2.com
because of the variety. I joined as a Senior Developer and I've
been promoted up to where I am now.
I wasn't expecting the level of client communication there is in
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays. As a Developer, I think it is
absolutely fantastic that I can walk around the ﬂoors of our
Head Office, or go to the Airport and see people using the
software that I've built day in and day out. Most places you
develop software for would not give you that kind of job
satisfaction - being able to see people's lives being enhanced
by the things that you've been able to do directly. For example,
you can build a website and there might be millions of people
out there using it, but they're 'out there'. Elsewhere, you have
to create hypothetical people for your users. I don't have to
create hypothetical people, I have real people. I would say that
the thing that I have enjoyed the most is solving people's
problems for them... and then they come back and ask for
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WORKING
AT JET2.COM OR JET2HOLIDAYS VISIT
AS A DEVELOPER, I THINK IT IS ABSOLUTELY
FANTASTIC THAT I CAN WALK AROUND THE FLOORS
OF OUR HEAD OFFICE, OR GO TO THE AIRPORT AND
SEE PEOPLE USING THE SOFTWARE THAT I'VE BUILT
DAY IN AND DAY OUT.