Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Since we have created a completely new project area, I don't have a basis for comparison, other than the fact that Cheesecake Labs doubled the number of chapters we could support through one of the solutions they built. We have gone from 25 to 60 clients, and have offered them self-service support for becoming a chapter, adding listings, and publishing events in the university community-calendars.
The efforts by Cheesecake Labs enabled us to scale the growth of our global program, doubling the number of international chapters supported. They enabled us to build a richer relationship with our program alumni and enhance the opportunities for our alumni to interconnect and collaborate around the world at far more events than our US-based headquarters could support.
Cheesecake Labs not only provided quality software engineering support, but they were a strategic partner in helping define the right user stories and priorities for our audiences and business goals. Furthermore, they were very easy to work with and gracefully collaborated with the rest of our engineering and business organization.
How did Cheesecake Labs perform from a project management standpoint?
Cheesecake Labs has had a transparent project management process. We've used an Agile approach and made many iterative adjustments. There is only a few hours' difference between our teams, so we can work together through Slack and video conferences. We're also a heavy JIRA and Confluence user for project prioritization. This flexibility has allowed us to adjust and readjust our business priorities based on what we're seeing on the ground. We could take a more restrictive approach to the development, giving fully detailed specs and schedules, but we have a first-time project, so there's a need for immediate adjustments. We still have a roadmap, but the weekly adjustments allow us to be reactive to the audience, and not proceed blindly.
Cheesecake Labs' team flew to our location and worked for a couple of weeks on-site with us, assisting with the launch. We're hoping to do the same thing in 2017 after a budget approval. Cheesecake Labs complemented our virtual process, making sure that we're also staying in touch in person.
What did you find most impressive about Cheesecake Labs?
Whenever we had a meeting with Cheesecake Labs, everyone on the team had a smile on their face. They've made the day more pleasant, and are very responsive.
Are there any areas Cheesecake Labs could improve?
Cheesecake Labs could put more emphasis on formalized documentation and code reviews. This is also a reflection of our growing maturity, as we continue to add engineers. High-level design documents can be useful for people who join the project at a later date.
The area in which we're developing now has complexities which will require more unit tests. It remains to be seen how Cheesecake Labs will perform. We have a formal quality assurance engineer who was introduced in the past month. We will start to cross-reference our JIRA user stories with the documentation, making test cases easier to trace. This is just a part of the natural maturity we see as we evolve the product scene.