Using Ruby on Rails, PromptWorks developed a functional prototype of a talent management product. Their team supplemented core developers during front- and back-end development.
PromptWorks provided a truly personalized solution and built a fruitful partnership. The team showed an ability to work effectively with third parties and key stakeholders during the deployment process. Their flexible approach to project management ensured smooth handling of any issues.
"As we received more demand from clients, they made sure that we'd have the resources we needed."
Please describe your organization.
We develop software solutions for the executive recruiting and general management spaces. Our customers are executive search firms and search agencies as well as venture capital and private equity firms. We help them manage their talent networks and hire candidates for their portfolio companies. We have a traditional talent tracking system with more functionality on the collaboration side, in order to share profiles easier.
What is your position?
I am the president and head of products within the company.
What business challenge were you trying to address with PromptWorks?
I needed a team that could help us grow into a larger company. We launched our product a year ago, after working with PromptWorks and other teams months prior. I also hired an interactive agency for helping with the design of the platform. We just didn't have the resources or expertise to complete all the work ourselves, so we relied on a series of partners.
Please describe the scope of their involvement.
At peak capacity, we've used four developers from PromptWorks within a month. At the start of the project, we were using two to three people, scaling the number up or down depending on the project. We've scaled back resources a little bit because we have internal developers, but we will be using them for a large upcoming project. We don't want to divert far away from our core. Supplementing our team with developers will best serve our client.
Version 2 of our product was developed with the help of another agency. I've hired several developers overall that have been integrated into the process. We currently have in-house as well as contracted developers.
How did you come to work with PromptWorks?
I found them online. I was considering building an application on top of Heroku, which was bought by Salesforce in 2010. PromptWorks was listed as a possible vendor for Heroku app development. They're also a local company, which motivated me to link up with their team further. Their co-founder mentioned that he had worked on projects that were very similar to ours, from a back-end standpoint, in terms of being able to track candidates through different stages. We ended up not using the Heroku platform. We needed a more robust solution, so we're currently on Amazon Web Services.
What is the status of this engagement?
We've been working with their company for two years.
Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
When we started our work, PromptWorks was a small company. I took a risk in using them because I felt comfortable with the people running the company, especially Greg Sterndale. He not only acted as a founder, but he helped us get the project off the ground by working as one of the developers.
As we received more demand from clients, they made sure that we'd have the resources we needed to make real progress. PromptWorks put a project manager in place for us, which was nice. I could only do so much in terms of working with a vendor. They've done good, clean work. They're very passionate about having clean code and not hacking around in the system as opposed to other vendors. It's been a positive partnership. We've hit a few bumps in the road, but there was never anything drastic. We were always able to figure things out. They were proactive in addressing anything that didn't work right by rotating developers from the work and reassigning the right people to it. For example, they've given us people specialized in commission software algorithms, front-end mobile development, and so on.
How did PromptWorks perform from a project management standpoint?
I see their company as a development resource for us. I've worked with other big, interactive agencies that have dedicated project people. PromptWorks is more hands on. I would suggest that anyone working with them make available a product manager internally. Their team is great at doing back-end work. Project management and quality testing fall into my lap. I work with another person in testing all the work provided by PromptWorks. We also write the feature stories for them to work on. Excepting the one project in which we've needed an extra management resource on their end, I haven't had much experience in this sense.
We use Pivotal Tracker for project management. It allows us to write different feature stories and put them into a backlog. The completion of each story can be estimated using a point system. It's a nice way of giving a developer the story, documentation, user persona, and attaching different mockups and screenshots. Interaction is made easier this way. We use Slack as a group chat in order to talk about features with developers quickly. I'm sure that PromptWorks uses many other internal tools.
What distinguishes PromptWorks from other providers?
Their tagline revolves around the ability to build handcrafted solutions. Not all developers have this kind of approach – libraries are shared and reused and many sites are built on standard platforms like WordPress. Also, many companies advertise the concept of a platform as a service. We had a platform like this, which had been built on a HelpSystems solution. It was not flexible and, overall, it was a bit of a mess. The developers that build on these platforms are usually not as good. They rely too much on the system to help them write code. On the other hand, when building something from the ground up, we could customize it and connect it to our vision.
Is there anything PromptWorks could have improved or done differently?
We've had issues with project management at times. PromptWorks had something in place, but it didn't work for me. I had a better experience of working with their team directly, rather than having someone come between us. The person assigned to us didn't have a clear understanding of the project. We've resolved the issue by working directly with the developers. I used to go to their office on Tuesdays and Fridays and work from there. We came to integrate our teams, and they were very accommodating in making sure that our internal resources received training and experience with senior developers. We appreciated this openness. We had particular issues with one developer, but that person no longer works there. His replacement has been great. Sometimes, an individual won't be the right fit, but we've always had open conversations about getting the right resource.