What was the scope of their involvement?
Firstly, we laid the foundation, and then we started adding functionalities that we would test and release throughout development. We waited until the product was almost completed before we went live with the system, but we were testing these functionalities the entire time to make sure we were getting the desired results. During those processes, there was a lot of change order management that had to be done, and there was also scope creep due to added functionalities.
We used the new Drupal engine and linked to the existing ERP system. We have database tables that we wanted to pull information from, and we wanted the backend of our system to be user friendly to allow easy changes to styles, colors, as well as price and discount controls. We had a VIP site that we were concurrently building as well.
Bluespark created every part of the website. The e-commerce side is very complex because users have to go into the VIP portion of our portal in order to buy directly from us. It looks just like a regular, fully-integrated ERP system with a web frontend. The platform needed to perform on the professional level, but not on the end-consumer level. A lot of work went into making sure the systems were presenting the styles correctly and as we wanted.
We had many features in our old system, and we added them to our functionalities. We added a very complex B2B portion which allows our customers to place orders for goods, then grid out our selection to allow for easier ordering. This functionality came after we went live with our regular system, but it’s part of the foundation and building blocks which Bluespark provided.
We still have many things we want to do with the system. We just launched our direct consumer functionality in Europe, and with Bluespark’s assistance, we’re now able to allow those users to log into our site and buy products directly.
We planned for it to go live in September 2016, which in total, gave us 7–8 months to make massive changes, have everything be cohesive, get it working, test it, and go live. We then did a rest period of 3–4 months, and started building some of the B2B functionalities that we’d been asking for. This was phase 2 of the plan.
What is the team dynamic?
When we were building the core features, we had as many as 6 people working on the team. As we got the majority of the work done and wanted to add functionalities, it scaled down to 2–3 people. They have a very modern staff with a QA resource, project manager, and a team ready for rapid deployment.
How did you come to work with Bluespark?
We wrote an extensive RFP (request for proposal) and sent it to multiple companies to see what kinds of solutions they could provide. Part of the RFP was that each company would come back and show us what they’d done in the past, but also articulate what we needed back to us. We were adamant that we wanted to go with the latest version of Drupal, an open-source solution on the backend. We wanted to make sure we got the most sophisticated users or programmers for those tools.
After looking at all of the bids that came in, and interviewing management and staff, Bluespark was the team we believed would be the best fit. They aligned with our philosophies, and they understood the nuances of what we wanted to do. The system was very complex, so their knowledge and understanding was key in our decision. They were the most competent team.
How much have you invested with them?
We spent $300,000–$500,000. We ended up adding much more labor and more functionalities, thus going beyond the original scope.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working together in the beginning of 2016, and the engagement is currently ongoing.