What were the results of the projects? Do you have any statistics or metrics you can share?
It was very good. We were very satisfied with it. There were a number of things which we had issues with, but that had more to do with our end and their lack of shipping knowledge. However, they quickly picked up and worked through it. The company I left, didn’t really know the system. We never did documentation of the system or anything like that. It’s mostly in my head. It was pretty self-evident to me how it works. Training is important but something we didn’t focus on during the project.
Did you see any kind of improvements in efficiency since Salesforce was implemented?
Yes, it was just kind of a headache to get everyone on the same track. As Salesforce developed, it became pretty efficient in terms of managing the business. Everything shifted to be in real time, especially between our offices in the US and Russia. The Russian office staff could also use it and see what was coming. It became pretty efficient because keeping spreadsheets updated caused a lot of misinformation and repetition. My thirteen-year-old daughter would have to pull from our vendor’s websites information and enter data into Salesforce. The staff could use that information. That’s probably something you could automate. But our volume was not all that great.
Since customizing in Salesforce do you still feel like that was the right decision?
Yes, absolutely. I use it today. I’m very happy with it. There are many things I can do with it, which I didn’t know even then. I have enough to keep me busy now. I use it for all reports and tracking, as well as pricing. It works very well for me.
Overall, how did you feel Astrea performed?
They did quite well. The issues we had I think really had to do with not defining things properly for them. Also, I have some other people calling and asking for recommendations so I recommend Astrea. The client must know what they want though because they don’t know about shipping and transportation. Also, they were responsive and flexible with me. They would quickly learn new concepts.
What about their ability to wrap up the project cleanly, on time, and within the budget that you set?
They did. I think they probably spent a little more because some of the documentation part was really difficult. They had a small issue in designing documentation so I would say it’s probably one of the weakest areas for them. I went through an American man for that. They were good overall.
Looking back on the project, is there anything that you think they could improve on?
Yes, design was the only major issue. I was quite happy with that. I have done a few little adjustments here and there, and they’re always willing to help me. They never offer excuses. Now, we’re under a tight budget. It’s a startup business. We are trying to limit our spending now.
Did you notice anything unique or special about them compared to other companies that maybe you have worked with in the past?
One of the attractive parts was the price. It’s much less expensive than working with American companies although they often need to bill extra hours because of communication issues. I know they have gained a lot of experience over the years. And they understand more the way we think. A lot of our vendors are in India and Mumbai. You just have to get used to those differences.