Describe the impact this engagement has had on your business.
There was always a lack of transparency in terms of what work had been done, what was still to be done, and what we were getting invoices for. We sent them a debriefing at the beginning of 2019, at which point we faced the first major issues with the project.
We got to the point where we more or less had application functionality, but we still had the really poor design. Additionally, we were never officially asked to accept the design. There was not a negotiation process, where we’d ideally be presented 2–3 designs to choose from. We were faced with a design that we ultimately never approved.
We started pitching the app to potential partners and investors, stating that a proper design would cost additional money. We hired an external designer on our own, and they were able to create a proper design for our application. After bringing it to ANODA, they asked for additional money to implement it, which was one-third of the cost we’d already paid.
To give an example of their professionalism as a company, we found our application under a different name on a site where they were showing their references, even though we’d signed an NDA. The design, which is still online, is pretty close to our application design, which was made by the external designer we hired.
How was project management handled?
We had contact on Slack. The expertise of the developers was okay, as far as I was able to judge it. We were in contact with the developers about several functionalities. In my opinion, there was very poor project management on the project. Project managers only showed up when they wanted us to pay additional invoices; it was never about having routine check-ups.
When we began to struggle with the quality of the design and to complain about the project progress, they offered to do weekly calls to improve the situation, but those calls never took place. The project milestone list, which we created on Excel so that we could check the app’s functionalities, the invoices, and the project’s progress, was always out of date. They repeatedly told us they’d send us a new list. It was never 100% clear to us which functionalities we’d already paid for, or which we had to make additional payments for. It was a very chaotic and unprofessional process. There was definitely a lack of project management.
Is there anything that the vendor did well or that you would consider a strength?
The actual coders were capable in their field. Everything around that was a bit messy.
In what specific areas can they improve?
The design was the most obvious problem. They can’t publish a reference with a slightly different name than that of our app, with a design that comes more-or-less from an external designer we hired, and post it online.
Then, when working on design, the first thing to do is make some kind of mockup, and not directly implement the design on the application framework. They didn’t ask us to approve the design before moving on to the next step. We were constantly talking about the possibility of working on the design, so we thought that that might be some kind of development process, and that it was just a rough framework of the app design, but we were never asked for final approval.
In the end, we had an app with functionality that more or less met the requirements — that’s the reason why I actually give credit to the coders themselves — but we had a really messy design. After the application was 60% done, they added a lot more cost to redesign it, which wasn’t in our budget. It was very disappointing working with them, given how their project management worked and communicated with us. The project management only showed up when they had another invoice for us. The organizational stuff never took place.
What advice do you have for clients with similar needs to yours?
I’d recommend to anyone working with them to have clear project management, to have control over objectives and key results, and to never make a payment in advance. In the end, it can be messy to work based on trust and to make payments in advance. We thought that there would be some improvements and more work on the design, but it turned out that that was it. Our money was gone, and the design was bad. It’s important to clearly control the results and the work that will be done for the money.