What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
I don’t have any statistics or metrics. While we were focusing on some of the heavy lifting, they carved off some portions of work that allowed us to do things more efficiently and deliver to more customers. They did a lot of library integrations so we’ve had greater ability, when we’re talking to a university, to tell them we support that library system.
One of the pieces of work that they worked on with us was the Ex Libris Primo integration which is just a patron-facing library system made by Ex Libris. A lot of potential customers and people we’re bidding for work use that system. It’s very helpful for us.
How did Andersen perform from a project management standpoint?
It was good. They had a couple people who were involved, Roman and Vitaliy. They were responsive, curious, and checked in regularly. They sat in on all the early meetings we had with their staff which was good. They wanted things to work and they worked well with us. We had Slack accounts set up for them. We had regular chats either in Slack audio or Skype early on. With the management team, we use Skype.
We have a standup meeting each day and we ended up having two standup meetings. That was just par for the course because we had one in the morning and one in the afternoon when Andersen’s staff was starting. Roman’s English was excellent. Our development team worked closely with each other and I did not find it as easy as speaking directly with a native English speaker. I’m not sure it really impacted our project. We noticed it. It was raised a couple times, but the second member that we collaborated with, Eugene, worked really well.
What did you find most impressive about them?
For us, it’s unique because we haven’t worked with anyone else and we tend to rebuff all advances. I like Roman. I trusted that if we had a problem, I could tell him and he’d sort it out. It was a positive experience. They showed considerable interest in making sure everything was smooth. They came to forecast upcoming work and resources, and when there was a new resource on their end, they would make it available to us. They’re proactive in that way.
Are there any areas they could improve?
I’ve worked with people in other countries and time zones for many years - I think it’s hard. You don’t want to be working all kinds of crazy odd hours just because the people you’re working with are. I think that would be an area they could potentially work on. But it’s not good for anyone to be out of sync with their location. Maybe something to do with time zones would have made it easier for us, but it’s an unreasonable request.
Do you have any advice for potential clients?
Be clear about what you need them to do. I’ve had a couple people call us to ask about Andersen. I tell them we didn’t have them to do everything. We didn’t have them do all the development work for our product, and I would never do that with anyone who I didn’t have some kind of direct contact with. Andersen worked well for us in portioning off specific, explicit parts of work and having that delivered. That is a smart move in my opinion.
We were able to give them responsibility for specific things. It’s lots of mini projects that get cohesively brought into our code tree. That means our risk is low. When we’re working with people on the other side of the world, we don’t necessarily know what they’re up to all of the time. My advice has nothing to do with Andersen or is a negative. Just be clear about what you want them to do. I would suggest having someone who can ease the developer into your knowledge domain. That’s even important for a product owner that’s a developer.